Alumni Spotlight
Sarah Nicholas

by: Reagan Young, student PR Intern

Sarah NicholasSarah Nicholas received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations in 2000. 

Nicholas, a native and current resident of Starkville, Miss., serves as a writer and editor for the College of Arts & Sciences at Mississippi State University.

In her job here at MSU, Nicholas writes numerous press releases and helps staff in the office edit publications. Her job often allows her to help others in the college shine. 

Nicholas said she enjoys highlighting the accomplishments of the faculty and staff within the College of Arts & Sciences. 

“When a faculty member has a great accomplishment--winning a huge National Science Foundation grant or writing a best-selling book or being elected as a national officer in an organization--I'll write an article to let our community know about this news. I love to highlight the accomplishments of the faculty and staff within the College of Arts & Sciences.”

Nicholas’ job also includes writing articles for the college's annual magazine, Vision . 

“Vision allows me an opportunity to shine light on unique research being conducted within A&S or spotlight students' accomplishments.” 

The most important mindset for getting a job, in Nicholas’ opinion, is to use connections to get a foot in the door. Nicholas worked as a secretary in a communication office within a large company as her first job after graduation, which she got through her mom’s friend’s college roommate who owned a temp agency in town.

After two months working as a secretary, Nicholas was offered a permanent job in the communication office as a junior communication associate. 

Nicholas said she got the job because she knew someone that opened up the opportunity to get her foot in the door. 

“I got that job because I knew someone who knew someone, and I was willing to take any position to get my foot in the door. That led to larger opportunities.”

Through being friends with Karyn Brown, the Director of Communication for the College of Arts & Sciences, Nicholas found out about her current job position for writing and editing in the college. 

Nicholas said to be open about accomplishments in an interview. 

“Bring up your portfolio, take the interviewer through your work, and be open about your college accomplishments.” 

Nicholas said she feels all of her communication classes helped prepare her for her career. 

“I feel like all of my communication classes helped prepare me for my career. Even though I don't take photographs professionally in my job, because of my photography class I know what to look for in a good visual aid for an article.” 

Nicholas said her teacher Lora DeFore taught her most influential lessons.

“I don't work for a newspaper, but my copy and layout teacher Lora DeFore taught me the visual aesthetic needed for a quality publication, and I work on quality publications frequently. I use what Frances McDavid taught me in newswriting class on a daily basis. Her lessons are probably the most influential for me today.” 

Nicholas said what she learned at MSU has prepared her for every job she has ever had. 

“Everything I learned in MSU's Department of Communication has prepared me for every job I ever had.” 

Favorite memory as a communication student?
I vividly remember laying on the MSU library study room floor in the basement the night before our Orgs presentation. I was exhausted and I was getting married one week later. My group rallied around me and helped me up and we crossed the finish line together. 

Favorite communication class you took and why?
I loved all my classes, but the one that sticks out to me today is Mass Media Law. Dr. Marian Huttenstein was the professor. I took that class in the fall of 2000, during the Bush/Gore presidential election--the famous "hanging chad" election. There wasn't a clear winner the day after the election. I went to her class and we had the best conversation I've ever had about politics. She was open to all arguments as long as we could back up our statements with facts. She taught me how to have a civil conversation with people who might not have the same political opinions. I wish I could talk to her today! I think we all need to sit in her class to learn about civil conversations in 2021!

Most valuable lesson learned from the communication department?
Good communication is essential in any job. Being able to clearly express your thoughts is essential in every avenue of life. I've often wished everyone had a communication degree.

Any funny stories from your time in McComas?
In my small group communication class, we did a project on breaking social norms. I had to walk around the building holding a cigarette to see if anyone would react. The first person I saw was John Forde, and he was my parents' neighbor. I was so embarrassed and afraid he was going to tell them he saw me smoking in the hall! 

Favorite communication professor and why?
I had too many professors make a profound impact on me to pick a favorite, but I'll say that Dr. Huttenstein and Lora DeFore are two of the names that surface in my memory frequently.