By: Julia Amting
When I began my college career at Central Michigan University in 2018, I wanted to be a speech-language pathologist. I thought my perfect grade point average and I owed it to the world to be in the medical field. I couldn’t stomach anything dealing with needles and blood, but I desired to use my career to help and connect with people.
I chose CMU because of the speech-language pathology program and was the freshman who came into college convinced that I had my life figured out.
Growing up in a small town, I was a big fish in a small pond who became a small fish in a big pond. I was overwhelmed by all of the opportunities and the “should do’s” for a quality SLP graduate school application. These included things like volunteering at the CMU Center for Autism Treatment, joining a future SLP organization and participating in swallowing research.
However, my natural inclinations were towards things like writing for the school newspaper, mentorship, running a painting business and writing my personal blog.
I was conflicted. I thought I had to do it all. I felt restless not having things figured out and I didn’t feel peace with continuing in the Communication Sciences and Disorders major.
The second semester of my freshman year I did some serious reevaluating. In my pajamas, sitting on the couch on a Saturday, I perused all the majors on CMU’s website and found an area of study I had never heard of before: Integrative Public Relations.
The IPR major consists of classes in journalism, communication, broadcasting, business, design and marketing. It is a marriage of all the things I have ever been interested in that I previously thought had no intersectionality. I realized that I can utilize my many and varied interests and expand my skills. I learned that CMU has the leading PR program in Michigan.
Needless to say, I switched my major after the drop period and finished the semester in a weird combination of commitments and classes.
One year later
I’m enjoying my classes. I am a member of PRSSA, mentor freshman Honors students and volunteer weekly at the pregnancy resource center in Mount Pleasant. I am simultaneously excited and terrified about the variety my new field of study offers. I’m learning more every day about the opportunities available to me and making connections with professors and students in a new academic college.
When I come home and tell people I’m studying public relations, I typically get a quizzical look and a question like “so what is PR exactly?”
Then I get to tell them I’m preparing for a career where I can use media and communication channels to share important messages, make audiences aware of great products, help establish and maintain an organization’s public image, develop effective relationships and infinitely more.
The most important thing I’ve learned in my college experience thus far is that it’s okay to give ourselves space to not have a plan. It’s okay to change our minds, try new things and be unafraid to explore our passions. It’s okay not to graduate in four years.
As I look forward to my education and career in PR, I’m going to embrace the opportunities that come my way and continue to grow into the person and PR professional I seek to be.