“English and the written word is such an important field. It helps you understand different perspectives--only in a book can you become totally entrapped in a different world from your own. Through literature, I have become aware of different cultural phenomena, social issues, and incredible untold life stories.” -Jessica Baltzersen, '13
Graduating in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication & New Media Studies at Mount St. Joseph University, Jessica Baltzersen has taken a profound interest in the written word. Through her diligent work ethic and pursuit of higher education, this cultured graduate has flourished in her studies which has led to enriching opportunities.
Paving the Pathway to Success
Baltzersen chose to major in Communication & New Media Studies as an undergraduate with plans to pursue a career in journalism. She found the Mount’s small class sizes synonymous with a strong learning environment which included one-on-one instruction from the English and Communication faculty.
Thus, Baltzersen’s Communication degree served as a solid foundation for developing diverse perspectives, ethical communication, writing skills, and creative thinking. As a result, she landed a co-op position in the University Communications Department at the Mount, where she frequently interviewed students, faculty and staff and wrote news stories and content for the public-facing website.
In addition, the Mount’s Career and Experiential Education Center informed her of a journalism fair where she was hired to intern at local publication CityBeat newspaper. Citybeat enabled her to further refine her interviewing, interpersonal, and writing skills that have served as a professional foundation to her career pursuits, and further cemented her passion for writing. Baltzersen notes the importance of co-oping/interning to enhance skills beyond the classroom.
“Co-oping and interning is so important and is honestly what has led me to my success today, especially within my field--I was able to have a portfolio of published writing before I even graduated,” she says.
Career Path that Empowers
After graduating with an excellent GPA and rich hands-on experience, Baltzersen received a position as a Web Intern in the University Communications Department at the Mount where she continued to write content for the website and freelance-write feature stories for the Mount’s University magazine. During this time, she desired to continue enhancing her writing skills, expanding her portfolio, and exploring the realm of literature. In hopes of gaining connections and opportunities within the literary world, she pursued a Master’s degree in English at Northern Kentucky University.
From there, not only did she broaden her literary knowledge base, but her journalism career path took a different turn. During her graduate studies, she had the opportunity to teach a college course at a nearby community college, and enjoyed the rewards and challenges of teaching college-age students.
“I found that with writing and journalism, I was able to give people a voice by telling their story, but with teaching, I was able to empower my students to find their own voices and tell their own stories--Watching them discover the importance of the written word has been incredibly rewarding,” says Baltzersen.
Currently, Baltzersen is working as an adjunct English instructor and writer at three different colleges. She teaches courses in English Composition, Advanced College Writing, and Introduction to Creative Writing. She continues to write creatively and for various publications as well. Baltzersen is thankful for her Mount education, as her undergraduate program and co-ops provided her with invaluable academic and professional skills that carried over into her higher education pursuits, instilling in her enriching and diverse perspectives.
“The Mount definitely instilled in me the power of knowledge," says Baltzersen. "I really loved working on my capstone project my senior year. I worked closely with faculty members who inspired me to research topics that I was passionate about. I became enthralled with the research process and knew that when I graduated I still had a lot more to discover and a lot more to write about. I wanted to carry over that same passion into my graduate studies where I continued my research in women’s studies, politics, journalism, and cultural studies.”
A Writer’s Word of Insight
For those interested in pursuing a career in writing, Baltzersen recommends interning at magazines and newspaper publications as much as possible; even unpaid. You might not get paid initially, but you’ll be writing every day, you’ll get used to working in a fast-pace environment, and you’ll be gaining connections within the field and hopefully be getting published.
“I also recommend reading as much as possible. Read as many novels, feature articles, news stories, and poetry as you can,” she says. “It expands your vocabulary, increases your knowledge, lets you tune into other voices, and helps you gain a multifarious perspective.”
Outside of her career, Baltzersen’s cultural exploration goes beyond her academics through her recent travels to numerous countries. She ventured to Nicaragua twice on mission trips, stayed in Peru for a month as an education volunteer, hiked in Portugal and Spain on the “El Camino” trail, and in December, traveled to Singapore, Cambodia, and Thailand.
“Traveling internationally has allowed me to meet the most extraordinary people and view some of the most magical places in the world,” says Baltzersen. In the near future, she hopes to pursue her Ph.D. in Creative Writing to continue teaching at the college level.