Casey Nishimura is an online student in the M.A. in Communication & Leadership Studies (COML) program. Casey lives in Honolulu, Hawaii and is a Corporate Communications Manager for Servco, Pacific, Inc. In his role, he focuses on a number of things including global internal communications for 1,700 employees, corporate PR, corporate branding and community service.
Q: Why did you return to school for a master’s degree?
I received my bachelor’s degree in Political Science. After college, I worked in politics for a couple years but decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do as a career. I’m passionate about developing people (and organizations) and telling their story. Communication made sense for me. Gonzaga’s communication masters seemed like the perfect program to give me the formal tools I would need to be successful at that.
Q: What was your deciding factor in choosing Gonzaga?
Unlike most students, I transferred into Gonzaga from a different graduate program. I had a bad experience with unresponsive teachers and unchallenging curriculum. It seemed like I was essentially paying for my degree but not learning anything. I was looking for a program at a prestigious school that would challenge me and be serious about developing their students. I found that at Gonzaga. Despite being over 2,000 miles away, the interaction and support I received was just as good as attending classes on campus.
Q: What made you decide COML was the right master’s program for you?
I liked that the M.A. Communication & Leadership Studies program was not just a straight communications or organizational leadership masters. I felt that a Communications and Leadership degree could give me the tools to not just be a communicator, but a change agent. I also chose Gonzaga because of the curriculum. I wanted a program that would more prepare me for a board room instead of life in academia. I felt the COML program offered a mix of theory and practical application which is what I wanted.
Q: Tell us about your online learning experience.
The online experience was challenging, mainly because I do learn best in a classroom. However, it forced me to engage the reading and discussions. As a result, I think I retained more knowledge than I would have sitting in a classroom. Furthermore, computer-mediated communication is the way corporate communications is going. An online experience, in many ways, is no different than how most of us communicate in a real world work setting – especially for large companies.
Q: How has the program made an impact on your job, career, and/or personal life?
The COML program gave me so many great tools to be successful. For most communicators, on any given day we could be a speechwriter, PowerPoint aficionado, graphic designer, interviewer or writer. We wear many hats, which is great, but in my opinion, many of these skills are easy to replace.
The greatest impact COML had on my career as a young professional was teaching me how to be more valuable than by just executing well. The program gave me tools to be a management consultant, organizational expert and communication guru all rolled into one. Those skills and contributions are much harder to replace and much easier to value.
Q: What was your experience with the faculty?
The faculty is great. Despite being over 2,000 miles away, the interaction and support I received was just as good as attending classes on campus. Responses were always prompt and detailed.
Q: Are you finding the program to be a good investment?
Absolutely. While attending the COML program and working full-time has been tough in terms of time management, I feel like I’ve been gaining double the experience by doing both simultaneously. Since I didn’t receive a formal education in Communications, the COML program has given me great tools to be successful in my roles as a communications professional.
Q: We talk about finding your “Inner Zag” – meaning students who are in the program have this moment when they feel a real connection with the program and the school. What is your “Inner Zag”?
My “inner zag” moment definitely happened during the on-campus communication practicum. Spokane is a beautiful town and Gonzaga is a gorgeous campus – I immediately felt connected the second I drove into town. The interactions I witnessed around campus made me confident that I made the right choice with GU.