Executive Master of Science in Strategic Communication student Gloria Chin is the First Deputy Press Secretary and Director of Strategic Media Relations at the New York City Department of Transportation. Since starting her master’s studies, she has been featured as a keynote speaker at a national women’s convention, earned her first educational grant, and recently was designated a national Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar.
Why did you want a graduate degree in Strategic Communication? What made Columbia’s program the right one for you?
Working in New York City government as an agency spokesperson places me at a unique nexus where I am able to witness leadership that creates change, affecting the lives of millions. The Strategic Communication program at Columbia offers a comprehensive combination of courses that focus on critical thinking, analysis, and leadership that have developed my skill set and broadened my knowledge to better serve the public every day.
How would you describe the experience of the accelerated format?
The executive accelerated program is one of the biggest reasons I applied to Columbia. The online evening classes and the weekend sessions are a great fit for full-time working professionals looking to advance their careers, skills, and education. I am now entering in my fourth and final semester and while it has been challenging, it has flown by. The experience so far has been exponentially rewarding and I look forward to what contributions I will be able to provide to Columbia as an alum.
How have the program’s faculty helped shape your experience?
It is invaluable to learn from experienced leaders who provide amazing insights and challenge the students via assignments and robust discussions. The professors and program staff have a way of being teachers while also being mentors, confidants, and cheerleaders—something I didn’t expect going into this program but am beyond grateful for. Having such an unparalleled support system has definitely shaped my experience and I look forward to continuing these relationships with staff and professors after graduation.
How do you utilize the skills gained from the program in your work at the Department of Transportation?
From the start of my first semester in the program, I began to apply what I learned at work immediately—in policy discussions, in prep meetings with senior staffers and other government employees for mayoral events, emergency response situations, engineering discussions involving safety changes at key intersections, and more. The starkest difference I noticed was the change in my thought process, which allowed me to offer thoughts and opinions at crucial moments, in meetings, and at events. I’ve also learned to approach discussions in a unique way where I’m learning more from others with little effort. The application of what’s learned in class is allowing for much more than I could have possibly imagined.
What advice would you give to someone interested in the program?
I would advise anyone interested in the program to apply. The program staff has been extremely supportive and helpful. I am extremely fortunate to be a part of Cohort 5—we are literally all extended family at this point. I would also advise anyone considering this program to remember it is a challenge—not only for the new student but for their immediate families, to brace yourself for tough but rewarding times, and to remember to take a moment to soak in the milestone moments. It is a challenging experience but the rewards are lifelong and exponential.