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Shari Stiell-Quashie: A First Generation College and Graduate Student

Shari Stiell-Quashie (’19SPS, Strategic Communication) is the first in her family to receive a bachelor’s degree and is on track to receive her master’s degree from the Master of Science in Strategic Communication program from Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies, where she is a full-time student. She graduated from Bard College with a degree in Literature in 2016 and is cofounder and publisher of Shuga N’ Spice Magazine. Later this month, she’ll be speaking on a branding and marketing panel, “Nuance is the New Audience,” at SXSW in Austin, Texas.

What initially attracted you to the Strategic Communication program at Columbia University?

I loved how Columbia balanced theory with practice because I was looking to gain a bit more practice. Before the program, I honed in on my analytical thinking at a liberal arts school and was furthering my work in communications and events as a freelancer. I didn’t feel like I fully understood what it meant to practice communications. This program was the missing piece to my career-building puzzle. I am looking forward to getting a master’s degree as I will be the first in my family to receive one.

“This program was the missing piece to my career-building puzzle.”

What type of skills have you been able to build and improve on through the program?

This program has increased my knowledge about practicing communications through effective messaging, great strategy, and employing the powers of persuasion and research. I developed my presentation skills even more through the various classes and was happy to culminate that learning in my capstone where I presented to the executives of a market leader in the travel industry.

What are your plans after graduation?

Being of Caribbean descent, I cofounded Shuga N’ Spice Magazine, a print and digital publication connecting Caribbean people globally with Caribbean culture, entertainment, and lifestyle. I’m working on growing our editorial team and recruiting contributors. I am also job hunting and seeking a communications position at an agency or brand that allows me use strategy and data to help clients achieve their business objectives.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Strategic Communication program at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies.