Mountaineer in Singapore: School of Journalism student finishes degree while living in Southeast Asia
She’s traveled extensively, lived in New Jersey and New York City and currently calls Singapore home, but Mitzi Avanzado, who will graduate with a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications Saturday, was determined to experience commencement at West Virginia University.
Her long plane flight wasn’t a deterrent, but rather the final step in a long and circuitous journey.
“They say luck is when preparation meets opportunity,” Avanzado said. “I don’t think anything has prepared me better than WVU’s IMC program for all the opportunities I have had both professionally and personally these past few years. Graduating with my master’s degree is self-affirmation that when you put your mind to something, anything is possible.”
Avanzado spent three years in WVU’s entirely on-line program, available through the P.I. Reed School of Journalism. Currently, she’s the marketing and communications manager for Deloitte Southeast Asia, where she leads CEO communications, internal communications, alumni relations and corporate social responsibility across eight countries.
Years ago, when choosing a master’s degree program, there were several reasons why Avanzado didn’t want to choose WVU.
She believed it would be difficult to acclimate to anything but a traditional brick and mortar program, that going to school online has a stigma of being not as “hard” as traditional graduate schools and that online programs meant less interaction with professors and classmates.
But, she ultimately decided on a program that would adapt and move with her, no matter where her career went.
“I was in my early 20s, single and ready to make the world my oyster,” said Avanzado. “And so, despite what I thought at the time about online programs, I went for the WVU IMC program, seizing every opportunity to propel my professional, personal and academic momentum at every turn.”
As far as her initial worries about the program, she says, “I was wrong, wrong, and wrong again. The truth is that nothing has helped me better prepare for today’s rapidly evolving marketing communications role than WVU’s IMC program.”
Avanzado enrolled as an IMC student in 2008 shortly after joining Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical sales communications team in New Jersey. After two and half years with the company, she moved to New York City to work for Deloitte, a large professional services organization, to help lead several communications initiatives. In 2011, Avanzado was asked to take on an even more challenging position for Deloitte in Singapore.
As she traveled from place to place and followed career opportunities across the world, Avanzado loved that the IMC program is flexible, while still being very structured.
“Despite all of the changes that have happened to me professionally and personally while being in the IMC program, one thing has remained the same: assignments and posts are always due on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”
From her homes in New Jersey, New York City and Singapore to a cruise ship, a café in Barcelona and the beaches of Nha Trang, Vietnam, Avanzado has posted on IMC course discussion boards and turned in assignments from everywhere imaginable.
“No matter where I was, professors were understanding and available to address my concerns,” she said. “This proved especially important while living in Asia where the availability of wireless networks, first world infrastructure and even sites like Google can be quite restricting.”
Despite the moves, adjustments and countless hours of hard work, she knows that her degree is worth it.
“No matter where you are in the world, being part of the WVU IMC community puts world-class resources and the latest marketing trends at your fingertips,” said Avanzado. “Sure it’s tough work, but the beauty of the program is that it allows you to still live your life and shape your career at the same time.”
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CONTACT: Briana Warner, School of Journalism, IMC program