As many CCPA students prepare to graduate this weekend they are faced with the daunting question of what life after SMU CCPA has in store for them. We caught up with the class of 2020 alumnae, and previous CCPA Fellows, Kate Adams and Karna Small to discuss how their experience as SMU CCPA students prepared them for life post-graduation. No matter your path following graduation, whether you are planning to attend graduate school or enter straight into the workforce- there is no doubt that Once CCPA, Always CCPA. 

Kate Adams

Favorite Memory as an SMU CCPA Student

“My favorite memory would definitely be CCPA Fellows meetings at Baldos or the Lawyer’s Inn on campus. Our meetings would be hours long, full of great conversations and coffee! Honestly, the times I just popped into professors’ offices to chat about an assignment that turned into long conversations about current events, life, or whatever was going on are very memorable and special to me,” said Kate. 

“Holding my diploma at graduation and shaking it in the air as I walked down the football field. College was not easy for me. I changed majors, I struggled to find my “why” and I felt lost most of the time. There were stages of my four years that I questioned whether or not I would make it to the finish line. Holding that diploma was the ultimate sign of perseverance. It was the largest sense of self-accomplishment I have ever felt in my life. To all the graduating seniors, cherish that moment. Stand on the stage and soak it in. Find your family in the crowd. Be proud of yourself,” said Karna. 

The Lasting Impact of SMU CCPA Faculty  

Kate and Karna discussed the close relationship between the CCPA faculty and students- a bond that does not terminate on graduation day.  

“I was fortunate enough to take a CCPA course (Intro to News Writing) my first semester at SMU to fulfill my writing requirement. That class was taught by Professor Coats, who paved the way for a plethora of positive relationships with professors within the CCPA department. Professor Coats offered me an internship for my sophomore year and she continued to mentor me throughout my time at SMU. Many other faculty members spent hours upon hours in their office explaining course concepts to me, giving life advice, or sharing the latest PR news with me. Looking back, I don’t think I would have gotten through my major or landed any of the internships that I did without the relationships I created and the advice I was given by faculty. I literally called Professor Lee two weeks ago for life advice, so do not think that the help and kindness of faculty ends at graduation!” said Karna. 

Karna Small

“Of course the CCPA faculty taught me many skills related to communications, social media, public relations, etc. but most notably, the faculty always pushed me to dream bigger and helped me grow into a confident leader, critical thinker, and writer. I always felt so seen and supported in CCPA. Having professors who could tell me, “Kate, I think you would hate this” when I proposed new career ideas or revelations was refreshing and empowering. It’s very special that our CCPA family is so tight. Our professors truly know each of us so well, from our strengths and weaknesses to our personalities and interests. I also think the caliber of class discussion is impressive. Our professors have incredibly high standards for us, which have served me well already in all areas of my life. They are still the mentors I go to when I want to talk through career goals and ideas. I’m planning to go to Dr. Duhé’s virtual office hours soon to catch up with her!” said Kate.

Currently, Karna serves as the Director for LDWW, a marketing, advertising, and communications agency located in the Dallas Design District and Kate currently works as an Integrated Marketing Assistant at Rogers & Cowan, a global marketing and public relations agency headquartered in Los Angeles. Kate looks forward to being back in the classroom and refining her industry skills this fall at USC Annenberg, where she will be pursuing a Masters of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising.

Advice for Graduating CCPA Students

“The things you are worrying about right now are probably not that important in the grand scheme of things; don’t stress too much and focus on enjoying the little moments,” said Kate. 

“First, work does not define you. Also, leave work at work, don’t bring it home with you (mentally or physically). Third, don’t ever forget why you started. In other words, if you wake up one day and realize you don’t like where you’re at, do something about it. Find the fire again and be proactive. Lastly, don’t fret if you feel like you aren’t using your major after graduation. A communication degree will take you well beyond PR. You will soon learn that someone who can communicate well is a key asset in any industry,” said Karna. 

Thank you Kate and Karna for sharing your experience as SMU CCPA students! Congratulations to all CCPA students graduating this weekend and remember that your SMU CCPA community is always here for you! Pony Up!

Learn more about SMU CCPA undergraduate studies here.