When alumna Shelby Geraci pursued her undergraduate degree, she had her sights set on majoring in English. As luck would have it, the college she was attending did not have English available as a major, which led Shelby to communications and her future career. Shelby is a recent graduate of Stevenson University Online’s Communication Studies master’s program and is currently researching Ph.D. programs. She has previously worked as a Communications Director at Living Hope Community Church and currently serves as the Writing Center Director at Lancaster Bible College, her undergraduate alma mater. We had the opportunity to speak with Shelby about her journey at Stevenson and beyond.
Were you always interested in the communication field?
I have always loved every aspect of communication: writing, editing, public speaking, reading, and teaching. Originally, I planned on majoring in English, but the college I attended did not have English available as an undergraduate major. As I like to say, I accidently and beautifully stumbled upon communications as my major. I quickly fell in love with the field and realized I could bring my passions to life. As a result, I am incredibly passionate about communicating messages genuinely and effectively in a way that engages my audience.
How did the faculty and staff help you reach your education or career goals?
The faculty and staff in the Communication Studies master’s program became mentors to me. My professors cared about my success in their courses and beyond. I have kept in touch with my very first professor in the program all throughout my time at Stevenson, even though I never had him in class again. Also, my Student Success Coach was the most encouraging individual that supported me throughout my time at Stevenson University Online. He always touched base with me to see how I was doing and not just in my academic life, but also my professional life. It felt incredible to have so many genuine supporters within the Stevenson faculty and staff.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
As the Director of the Writing Center at a small four-year college, I bring my communication background to the job by teaching students how to communicate their thoughts effectively. That is the most challenging and the most rewarding part of my job. Helping undergraduate students to catch the vision of the bigger picture. Of course grammar, mechanics, syntax, and semantics are of great value to us as writers and communicators, but the most important aspect is the ability to communicate your thoughts and ideas effectively. We are called a writing center, but really, we should be called a communication center.
What do you find to be the most fulfilling aspect of your job?
Seeing students have that “lightbulb moment” where they grasp not just the assignment or the concept, but the bigger picture. When students understand why it is important to develop the skill of communicating effectively and the best yet, when they apply it and do well!
What are the key characteristics needed to succeed in your field?
When you communicate with others, let your passion come through. Be real, know your audience, and relate to them. There is so much shallow, surface-level, and meaningless communication taking place in our society – stand out and genuinely communicate.
What would you consider the most important thing you have learned?
Through hands-on experience both in the classroom and in my work, I have seen my passion for communication come to fruition in all areas of my life. Effective communication skills make me a better director, teacher, student, friend, and sister. I think realizing that the skill is not just one you craft at work and in the classroom, but one that you practice in every aspect of life has been incredible for me. Many people compartmentalize their lives into sections of career, academic, and personal, but I have quickly learned that communication is the connecting tie that brings them all together for an individual.
What is the most important piece of advice you would give to anyone starting out in the communications field?
First, identify your passion in two ways: what message are you passionate about communicating? And what medium of communication are you most passionate about? Then merge the message and the medium and your passion can come to life – that is when you have fun and do not have to work a day in your life.
What are a few hobbies and interests of yours?
Writing, I enjoy creating poetry and short stories. Writing a book is actually on my bucket list. Outside of my current role, I am also a freelance editor and copy writer. I mainly edit dissertations, but also edit books and articles. I copy write for various websites, ranging from retail to maintenance. I also enjoy learning and studying languages, especially Spanish, and I am dying to learn sign language.
Your favorite place that you have traveled to.
Deep Creek Lake. It is a favorite family vacation spot and I have so many memories there of hiking to the water falls, walking on the frozen lake, riding Segways, mountain coasters, and camping.
Who inspires you?
Jesus Christ. His life on earth was an example of how to be a relational communicator. Jesus was fully present when he communicated with others, he genuinely listened, cared, taught, encouraged others, and always spoke truth. He is the communicator I strive to emulate.