Reflections on SAU’s Master of Arts in Strategic Communication & Leadership Program

by Lori Rieger

Lori Rieger

Lori is an internal communications professional at Thermo Fisher Scientific and has over 20 years of Communications experience working in corporate communications, marketing, media and public relations. Lori has experience managing news crews, serving as a spokesperson for organizations, building brand, and leading communications programs for Fortune 500 companies that help achieve business objectives, enhance trust, and help enable organizational effectiveness.

Lori earned a master’s degree in strategic communications and leadership from Spring Arbor University, a bachelor’s degree in communications media from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an associate’s degree in mass communications from Butler County Community College.

When I was contemplating graduate school, I didn’t think I was going to be able to balance it with everything else I had going on: I am a wife, mother of three, and work full time … but, I was really intrigued by Spring Arbor University’s online program, and I had had very positive experiences with everyone I interacted with at the university as I researched. I ultimately made the decision it was time. Now, just 21 months later, I am an SAU alumnus! Not only did I finish, but as I reflect back, I find that the time I spent at Spring Arbor was tremendous! Actually, it didn’t take me long to realize just how precious and important the time I was investing in online learning was to me. Everyone involved was genuinely committed to my success.

Revealing and Applicable

At the time, I had been working in the Communications industry for over 20 years. I had a lot of experience, but my approach had become predictable and my output was typical. I was in desperate need of some modern-day instruction, and I desired the education to be from a biblical worldview. Spring Arbor University delivered both of these. The course material was relevant, practical, and based on Christian principles.

As the program unfolded, I grew as a professional and as an individual. And because I also maintained my career throughout the program, I was able to apply my learnings to the real world and pull my real-world experiences into my learnings. I found the experience extremely valuable and energizing, and each week I looked forward to the new opportunities the learning environment brought forth. The texts were engaging, my classmates were inspiring, and the coursework was stimulating.

Distinctive Offerings

One of the unique aspects of the Strategic Communication and Leadership graduate program is the mentor component. Through it, each student is connected with a professional who has walked a similar career path. The mentor is there to guide the student as he or she considers his or her purpose and apply his or her learnings to the secular world. What a gift it was to have someone like that to help me navigate! It added a very a personal element to the entire experience.

I also appreciated the opportunity to create an electronic portfolio. Having been out of school for 20 years, I was glad to have examples of current communication work outside of the norm to show my employer.

Life-Changing

To anyone not sure about the value of the program, I can honestly say it can be transformative. For me, my time at Spring Arbor helped me discover what communicating the truth really means. I helped me identify my strengths and determine my calling. It was much more than I expected and am grateful for the experience.