Chelsea Clements Grund is a two-time graduate of Auburn University, receiving her BA in Radio, Television and Film in 2011, and her MA in Communication in 2013. Currently, she holds the role of Project Manager at The Home Depot where she oversees the planning, management and execution of social media creative in order to support marketing campaigns for the decor line of business. Chelsea specializes in project management, content development and influencer relations. Prior to The Home Depot, Chelsea worked on the agency side of the industry, starting her career as a digital intern at Edelman and spending four years working within the digital marketing practice at MSLGROUP in Atlanta. Chelsea’s Auburn master's program experience helped her grow exponentially as a person, student and professional. The program helped her build a stronger sense of self-confidence while gaining a better understanding of what motivates her professionally. It not only broadened her practical knowledge of the PR, marketing and communications industries, but also deepened her understanding of a brand’s audience strategy, which ultimately informs its communication, messaging and creative strategies. Communication theory studies also gave her a greater ability to communicate effectively – in and outside of the workplace.
Kat Harding '13
Public Relations Manager
North Carolina Museum of Art
Graduation Year: 2013
I’m the Public Relations and Social Media Manager at the North Carolina Museum of Art, responsible for all forward-facing communication about the Museum, its programs, its exhibitions and art, our 164-acre campus, and staff. I handle press releases, media events, day-to-day social media, publicity partnerships, crisis communications and more. It’s a fast-paced, nonstop job that keeps me super busy, but I love it. I started my career in the music industry at BMI in Nashville, and the arts and entertainment world is definitely the place for me. The MA program prepared me for my career by fine-tuning my writing skills and getting me comfortable with conducting research, giving presentations and public speaking. I’ve even been able to put my writing and research skills to use as a freelance music journalist. I’m thankful for my time in the graduate program at Auburn and where it has gotten me.
Ildiko Juhasz '15
Special Events Sales Manager & Wedding Specialist
Park Hyatt Washington, DC
Graduation Year: 2015
I started working in hospitality part-time during my graduate program at Auburn (at The Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon Conference Center), so you could say my path in the MA program directly intersected with my future career path, although I didn’t know it yet. I learned valuable communication skills from the program and became comfortable with expressing my ideas and thoughts openly in groups, and this gave me the starting point to be able to succeed in a sales/events position. I started as Sales Assistant for Hyatt Hotels, then moved to Event Planning Manager, where I was responsible for fully planning and executing about 65 events per year, ranging from 10-400 attendees. I was just recently promoted to Special Events Sales Manager, Wedding Specialist, for Park Hyatt Washington DC, where I am now responsible for selling all of our social events, as well as planning them. Since my position requires so many different types of communication methods, both verbal and written, I’m grateful to have the background I received from Auburn’s MA program.
Nicholas Kirby '08
Graduation Year: 2008
For the last six years, I have been a Project Manager with Schneider Electric, a multinational company headquartered in France. I manage large electrical distribution projects for clients all over the United States from New York City to Las Vegas. I interact with a wide array of people with diverse backgrounds every day and the MA program at Auburn helped me to understand how essential communication is to be successful. I study my clients and work to understand their motivations and that helps me to develop a communication strategy for each project. At the end of the day, I have succeeded if I clearly communicate a plan of action to a client and the client in turn fully understands the plan and allows me to implement it. The MA program provided me with the foundation I needed to be successful in the real world.
Josh McFall '09
Chief Executive Officer
Huntsville Area Association of Realtors
Graduation Year: 2009
My position requires that I spend a considerable amount of time communicating our initiatives and our position on issues. I’m also tasked with the execution and creation of strategies to help keep our industry ahead in our changing world. The research, critical thinking, organizational frameworks and public relations skills learned during my time at Auburn are concepts I use in daily practice. In fact, I still refer back to them in meetings and when I’m asked to give talks to groups. Auburn laid a foundation for me to effectively lead our members, our staff and our industry.
Douglas J. Rentz '01
Senior Director, Communication & Marketing
National Tour Association
Graduation Year: 2001
Auburn’s MA program blends theory with practice to prepare its students for a career in academia or as a practitioner. I appreciated the various areas of study, from research methods to public relations campaigns, which diversified my knowledge and skill set. My role as a graduate teaching assistant also remains one of the most rewarding experiences of my career, as I was able to guide students on how to deliver effective, engaging presentations. Since graduating from Auburn, I’ve held professional positions in collegiate media relations, journalism and marketing. Most recently I served as senior director, communication and marketing, for the National Tour Association. My job at NTA included managing all brand-driven initiatives, which included websites, social media, strategic messaging, print and email campaigns, and digital advertising efforts. I also served as staff liaison for the NTA Advocacy Advisory Group, a position that annually brought me to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators and show how travel is one of America’s most important economic drivers. Auburn’s MA curriculum and especially its outstanding faculty provided the foundation of my career in the communication field.
Jade Reynolds '16
Key Account Manager
Graduation Year: 2016
Jade Reynolds Smith attended Auburn University and was a part of the communication graduate program. During her time, she learned how to solve complex communication problems, articulate her thoughts and thoughts of others in a meaningful way, and provided business strategies for local organizations in the Auburn area. The challenges that arose while being enrolled in the program prepared her for a top-level management position. Because of the foundation that was laid out by Auburn University, Jade has successfully made her way up the corporate ladder in the sales division of Frito-Lay. She currently serves as a Key Account Manager where she is responsible for Frito-Lay’s CVS and Walgreens business for the Southeast Region. Her main focuses are generating sales growth, maintaining business partnerships, and identifying new opportunities for continued growth in each respective portfolio. As a result of the rigorous program she undertook at Auburn University, Jade has excelled in her role, earning her recognition as one of their top sales performers.
Marketing and Social Media Coordinator
Graduation Year: 2009
I work for Progress Bank’s headquarters, which has nine locations in Alabama and Florida. I am one in a team of two, the other being my Marketing Director. While she is more concerned with strategic goals and planning, my role consists of carrying out those plans. Some of my responsibilities include graphic design, social media management, internal employee communications, external client communications, and management of our promotional item store. The MA in Communication program prepared me for my career in several ways. I am responsible for communicating the bank’s message to people with wide age ranges and economic backgrounds, mostly through email and social media. To do this effectively, it takes a lot of training and practice in the crafting of messages to portray your thoughts efficiently. Another significant aspect of the program was developing time management skills, through balancing studies, teaching and personal time. That skill should be mastered regardless of career. Finally, the program benefited me simply by completing it. Employers see a potential applicant completed a master’s program, which shows they have gumption. I know it has helped me get to where I am, and it would have been more difficult had I not completed the program.
Rebecca Seung-Bickley '17
ACLU of Alabama
Graduation Year: 2017
The Auburn University Communication Graduate Program provided me with the skills and confidence I needed to be able to work under pressure in a fast-paced environment as the head of the communications department at the ACLU of Alabama. Thanks to the diverse range of courses, projects, and internships I was exposed to through Auburn, I have an understanding of audiences and how to research them through quantitative and qualitative methods while also applying that to create websites, engage with them on social media, write blogs and op-eds to make complex cases more accessible, and speak in front of hundreds of people at rallies and events. The Auburn graduate faculty, staff,and overall experience were instrumental in helping me to find my passion and pursue it.
Brad Tillery '11
Graduation Year: 2011
Having an MA in communication is invaluable for my role. I'm lucky enough to work in one of the coolest industries in the world – video gaming! As a Channel Executive with Xbox, I'm afforded the opportunity to work with 20+ different companies across the country to position our product in their stores and on websites so that not only are the retailers set-up for success, but most importantly, customers can get exactly what they're looking for from our partners. I spend all day either interacting with other stakeholders internally at Microsoft or working with retailers and distributors to find the best solution for their individual needs, usually through piecing together many different parts of a puzzle to make a complete picture. Understanding how to listen properly, engage with people, and then create actionable plans based on research is a direct result from the foundational teachings that I learned while in graduate school at Auburn.
Nick Van Der Linden '14
Director of Communications
Graduation Year: 2014
Nick Van Der Linden received his Master of Arts in Communication in 2014 and currently serves as Director of Communications for LeadingAge Florida, the state’s leading advocate for high-quality senior living. As director, he is the spokesperson and media contact for the organization, develops and implements marketing strategies, helps enhance brand recognition and provides high-quality and timely information to the public and long-term care providers. "Auburn’s School of Communication and Journalism has an excellent curriculum, but above all, it was the faculty that helped prepare me for my success. They challenged me to not only think critically, but grow as a person. Class sizes were intimate and allowed for engaging discussion and debates. Serving as a graduate teaching assistant also provided me the opportunity to get hands-on experience working on meaningful academic studies. The master’s program is a true embodiment of Auburn’s creed. It gives you the knowledge to work wisely and trains your mind and hands to work skillfully."
Ashlea Watson '12
Senior Marketing Analyst
Lowe's Home Improvement
Graduation Year: 2012
As a Senior Marketing Analyst for Lowe’s Home Improvement, I support business growth for this Fortune 50 Company by developing and implementing social content. Additionally, I manage a community of customers on our social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. It’s a creative, exciting industry, and I’m proud to be part of a talented, award-winning team. My time in the MA program at Auburn helped set me up for success because I developed a firm foundation of communication and marketing strategies that I will continue to foster throughout my career. Additionally, I acquired the necessary tools to create innovative, effective content in a variety of digital mediums for various audiences.