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Alumni Success

The Department of Communication, Journalism and Public Relations is a common connection between many successful, creative professionals. Learn more about some of our alumni and their recommendations to follow in their career footsteps.

Oakland University’s Communication program prepares students to weave into a variety of workplaces, priming them with critical thinking, organizational and teamwork skills.

TV Writer and Producer

Miranda Divozzo Headshot

Miranda Divozzo, OU Communication with a minor in Journalism

Los Angeles-based film and TV writer and producer

Career Highlights:

I've worked on numerous true story-driven narratives, including as a producer on Leah Remini’s Emmy Award-winning “Scientology and the Aftermath,” an associate producer on NBC’s top rated series “The Thing About Pam,” starring Renée Zellweger, and ABC’s award-winning “When We Rise,” about the LGBTQ+ movement. Most recently, I sold a fictional half-hour comedy TV show to Warner Brothers. I will be working in development on this project for the next few years.

Talking to everyday heroes about their lives, the highs and lows, the obstacles they've overcome, and turning their stories into on-screen narratives that other people can feel seen in, and not feel so alone with their struggles.

The first TV show I ever worked on, “When We Rise,” chronicled the LGBTQ+ movement in San Francisco. One of my first assignments was to drive up to San Francisco from Los Angeles and interview three people. Cleve Jones, Roma Guy, and Ken Jones. They are all larger-than-life figures in the LGBTQ+ movement and are the most humble people I've ever met. Hearing their stories and helping bring them to life on screen is to this day, the most profound and rewarding experience of my life. Watching Cleve, Roma and Ken discover how much their personal stories impacted people they've never met was awe-inspiring. I was involved in the initial research, the writing, casting – all the way until the last scene of the show was shot.

Reflections for current students:

“Find someone who represents the type of future or life you'd like and ask them to have coffee with you. Some of my most treasured moments in college were sipping a delicious latte with Beth Talbert at Dessert Oasis and listening to her talk about her life. I have several different mentors for different phases of my life and I still seek counsel from all of them, Including Beth.”

Senior Executive Communication Strategist

Kayla Brandon Headshot

Kayla Brandon McClelland, OU Communication with a minor in Journalism

Senior Executive Communication Strategist, Boeing

Job highlights:

“Every day I go to work knowing I work for a company that literally moves the world. How many people can say that?! I'm incredibly fortunate to support various CEO's at Boeing through speech writing, coordinating internal and external events, managing their social media profiles and ensuring employees and stakeholders around the world feel connected to their message. I can't overstate how fulfilled I feel in my current position, and it's one that didn't even seem possible to attain while studying at OU. My sights were set on being a journalist—something I pursued for a few years post-graduation. Little did I know there was a whole new world of possibilities outside of my limited beliefs that I was only ever destined for journalism. The writing and project management skills I've honed in this position will undoubtedly serve me well for years to come.

Other career highlights: As I mentioned, I worked as a journalist in the D.C. area for the first few years after graduating in 2014—first as a TV reporter anchor, and later as journalist for an online news organization. Both roles were wildly fulfilling for many reasons, but they left me burnt out and, frankly, broke. I wanted more work/life balance and the financial freedom to pay my rent and save for retirement, which was essentially not possible in the beginning of my career.

Today, working at a Fortune 100 company, I still tell stories, they're just stories within my company. Supporting CEOs is also just as fast-paced as the news industry and allows me access to some of the most brilliant minds at my company. I thrive being able to try new communication strategies and tactics, and I've built my reputation on taking smart risks.

Reflections for current students: 

“Ask for feedback regularly, and try not to take it personally. Feedback is meant to help you, not hurt you. Take every opportunity as a learning lesson. Careers are long. It's a marathon, not a sprint. You'll continue to grow and learn throughout your life and career.

[Also] it's okay to change your mind. You will likely have multiple different career paths over the course of the next few decades. Embrace change—it will serve you well.

Senior Director

Anthony Winters, OU Communication

Senior Director, Customer Sales and Strategy, Yahoo.com

Career Highlights:

“I’m fortunate to lead a team of top notch sellers in Detroit and NY covering not only automotive but QSR, finance and retail industries. The offerings and the opportunities as well as the client challenges continue to evolve and that makes the job that much more enjoyable.

I started my career at an ad agency - CME on the Chrysler business. I had the opportunity to work in account management, ultimately as the Senior Vice President on the Jeep business and then on the Dodge business before I left for Yahoo. In that time I had the opportunity to attend CEO meetings at Chrysler, help on new business with clients like the Detroit Red Wings and Harley Davidson, meet celebrities, and travel to 25-plus states and six countries on two other continents.”

Reflections for current students:

  • “Enjoy your time in school and in your classes. Once you leave and start working it's never the same. 
  • Take classes outside your major, try something new and challenge yourself. This will help you more once you start working and interacting with people.
  • From a work perspective two ears and one mouth - listen more than you speak. It will help you more than you'll realize over time. 
  • Follow up - when asked to do something, provide an update
  • Use the phone and meet face to face; far too much gets lost in email or texts.
  • I joined the Adcraft Club of Detroit right out of college and ultimately became the 113th president of the country’s oldest and largest advertising club, the ad craft club of Detroit in 2018. Networking is key.”
Vice President of DEI Detroit Pistons

Headshot - Stefen Welch

Stefen Welch, OU Communication and Master of Community Development, Detroit Mercy

Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Detroit Pistons

Career Highlights:

“I oversee the learning and development curriculum and diversity, equity and  inclusion strategy and initiatives for the Detroit Pistons organization that focuses on engagement, talent attraction and supplier diversity.

Before my current role at the Pistons, I was Divisional Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for New York-based retail company Saks OFF 5TH. During his time, I increased diverse representation within business areas, created platforms for BIPOC designers and increased DEI engagement scores to the second highest in the company. His perspective on key initiatives has led to speaking opportunities at various colleges and universities, conferences and panels across the country, including the National Black Men in Leadership Summit, eTail West, Deloitte Bersin IMPACT Conference, and Center for Automotive Diversity Inclusion and Advancement (CADIA) Rev Up Conference.”

Reflections for current students:

“I loved my time at OU. The CJPR classroom experience was a special place. I was able to soak up the perspectives and share mine with many great professors, including Rose Collins, Scott Crabill, Tom Discenna, Kellie Hay, Shea Howell and Dave Lau. They challenged me, but they also supported me. Each of them wanted to see me succeed inside and outside the classroom. My professional career is rooted in many communication classes I took at OU including Group Dynamics, Multicultural Communication, Organizational Communication, Performance,  and Persuasion. Honestly, a piece of them is inside of me.

Get engaged, be yourself and create a positive impact where you are. Your future self will thank you for it.”

Marketing Communications Specialist

Emily Newberry, OU Public Relations and Communication

Marketing Communications Specialist, H.W. Kaufman Group

Career Highlights:

“[I have] a hybrid work schedule. I love working from home and going into the office around once a week. It allows me to get to know my co-workers better while still enjoying the comfort and convenience of working from home.”

Reflections for current students:

“I always felt like my professors truly cared about me so definitely get to know your professors and peers because those connections will help you long into your career. Get as much experience as you can before you graduate, whether it’s an on-campus job like working at The Oakland Post or getting multiple internships or joining the PRSSA e-board.”

Associate Art Director

Headshot - Lily Stotz

Lily Stotz, OU Communication with minors in advertising and graphic design

Associate Art Director, Franco

Career Highlights:

“[I work with a] diverse clientele, so there’s always something new. [I also have] creativity, and a team that is open to new and fresh ideas.”

Reflections for current students:

“Long-lasting relationships with faculty and peers help me grow and continue learning beyond my time at OU. Be open to all opportunities and don’t stay on a path you’re not happy with.”

College Basketball Coach

Drew Valentine, OU Communication and Sports Administration M.A., MSU

Head Men’s Basketball Coach. Loyola of Chicago

Career Highlights:

“First, you get a chance to be around the game of basketball still. When I was ending my playing career –  my college career – I thought about ‘what do you want to do for the next step in your life?’ I wanted to be involved in the game at the Division I level, and now I am. My life revolves around the game of basketball 365 days a year, 24-7. You still get to compete, to strategize, to get on the floor, day to day, and do this for a living. You get to make a difference in communities and in people’s lives.

Second, I’m a young father now, and there are people who touch my daughter’s life, and I want to do that for others. I saw how my dad made a difference in the community of Lansing, and the pride you can bring back to a community and a city, we’ve been able to do that here at Loyola. So, you get to bring something back to your community and give people something to get excited about.”

Reflections for current students:

“I thought OU was awesome. We had so much support as athletes. We would be gone for two weeks in November, but always had support. Faculty always treated us well. As I got further along in my courses, I thought, all my professors and classes were so interesting. My grades reflected that. I made the all-Summit League academic team. Beth Talbert was my favorite, four different classes. [She] made us dig deeper, [was] fun to learn from [and had a] great perspective on life.

Do what you’re passionate about. Never do something just for financial reasons. Everybody wants to be taken care of financially when they graduate from college. As a grad assistant, my first two years, I made $18,000 a year. And I had to pay my own tuition. But I got invaluable experience in the field, doing something I was passionate about.  Now I am the youngest head coach in Division I basketball. Don't just pick a major that you think you want to make money at 21 or 22-years old. Do something that you are passionate about.”

Oakland University’s Journalism program offers students hands-on opportunities to develop their writing and communication skills through traditional classroom guidance and experiential learning through The Oakland Post and WXOU. Many journalism alumni have pursued careers as writers, editors and management officials after graduating.

Chief Operating Officer

Kelly Kozlowski, OU Journalism and Master of Public Administration

Assistant Vice President, Economic Development (WSU)

Chief Operating Officer, TechTown Detroit

Career Highlights:

“I've always viewed the COO position as being responsible for the overall health and success of an organization. To me, my job is all about ensuring that every colleague has what they need to be successful in their role. And if I can help elevate them in that work, it's an especially good day. I love the behind-the-scenes nature of an operations role -- you have a lot of influence without the added pressure of always being in the spotlight. As for specific highlights:

  • I get to traverse two worlds – WSU and TechTown – on a daily basis. One is more formal and complex, and the other is more nimble and experimental. I get the best of both worlds.
  • I still get to write – a lot! Writing is the number one skill for so many jobs and career paths, and while the types of assignments have evolved over the course of my career, I love that I'm always putting that skill to use in some way.
  • I still get to act like a reporter. I am constantly seeking out information, connecting with people, digging into issues, working on tight deadlines, and communicating with different audiences. When I was a student, I never would have guessed that a journalism degree would be such excellent training for being a COO.”

Reflections for current students:

“I tell people all the time that OU's JRN program is a hidden gem. I know other schools get a lot of attention for their journalism programs, but when it comes to proximity and connections to media markets, real-world experience of faculty, and opportunity for students to gain exposure for their writing, you can't beat OU. My first job out of college was at the Detroit Free Press, and I was scouted before I even graduated. I credit that entirely to my experience at OU.

Be curious! This is the number one trait that I encourage in general. Curious people are forever learning -- which makes them the most interesting people to be around and the most useful on a team. They are the ones most likely to ask someone a question or make a discovery or notice something that everyone else overlooks. I've done a lot of hiring over the course of my career, and I am always far more impressed by the candidates who wonder about everything than by those who try to know everything.”

Planning Editor

Gayle Issa, OU Journalism and Columbia University Journalism MA

Planning Editor, Reuters

Career Highlights:

[I work] in the largest newsroom alongside journalists posted in every corner of the world. I've been lucky to be assigned to multiple new startups within Reuters as the newsroom looks to expand its reach, such as planning and producing for our trial podcast with Audible and pioneering our new annual editorial showpiece - Reuters Next - which brings in big names in politics and business for a multi-day interview and panel event.

[I’ve also been involved with] field producing challenging outside broadcasts such as protests and elections in Greece and several annual World Economic Forums in Davos, Switzerland. Also, being part of an award-winning team which created one of the industry's best COVID-19 pandemic graphic trackers.”

Reflections for current students:

“I had a fantastic experience as a CJPR student being taught by some standout professors and getting a solid grounding in lessons which have stayed with me since – like ethics, and law of the press. But journalism is about doing. So once you've got a handle on the academic side of it - get to The Oakland Post and write, write, write!

Talk to people in the field. Get experience in the field. Don't be afraid to make a change or veer off the path you thought you would take. Take care of your mental health throughout.”

Communication Officer

Kaniqua Welch Headshot

Kaniqua Daniel Welch, OU Journalism and Relations and Organizational Communication M.A.

Communications Officer at The Kresge Foundation

Career Highlights:

“I support strategic communications and external affairs for several grant making programs at Kresge. I also co-chair the Equity Task Force to help operationalize diversity, equity, inclusion and justice across the foundation.

The best part of my job is using storytelling to shift narratives in communities of color and to lift up the voices of our grantee partners doing incredible work. I started my career as a news reporter with the Oakland Press. Prior to Kresge, I was vice president of the Finn Partners Detroit office and account director at Weber Shandwick – both global public relations and marketing firms. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with corporate, nonprofit, public sector and philanthropic organizations to lead communications programs focused on integrated media strategies; executive positioning and thought leadership; donor relations and fundraising; corporate social responsibility and sustainability; crisis planning; and social issues campaigns centered on equity, education, health, social justice and community development”.

Reflections for current students:

“My time at Oakland was so priceless. I still use learnings from my undergrad years to inform decisions I make today. I still have wonderful relationships with many of my instructors and professors who I cherish as mentors. I will forever view Oakland as the place that shaped me into the professional I am today.

No matter the industry or the technology shift - it all involves people and storytelling. There will always be a role for strong, creative journalism and effective communicators.”

Digital Director

Kim Yonick, OU Journalism and Digital Marketing Mini MBA and Webmaster Certificate, Rutgers University

Digital Director at KVUE in Austin, TX

Career Highlights:

“[I] overseeing the digital department at KVUE, [and] I was Emmy nominated for my coverage of Hurricane Harvey at The Weather Channel.”

Reflections for current students:

“OU was a great experience where I was able to mix and match my educational needs to help me grow as a student and begin my career. The faculty was knowledgeable and helpful with helping me gain the skills I would need to get my first job and begin my journey. Do everything you can to gain experience whether it be doing internships and/or joining a group or organization. All the experience you gain will help you stand out in the industry.”

Public Relations Senior Associate

Megan Wolowiec Headshot

Megan Wolowiec, OU Journalism with minors in advertising and public relations

Public Relations Senior Associate at Lambert

Career Highlights:

“[My job includes] telling impactful stories and securing media coverage that helps clients tell their stories to their communities.”

Reflections for current students:

  • “Brian Hlavaty, JRN 3000. I reference material I learned in this class daily. Learning to tell a story has impacted my career.
  • Holly Gilbert, Media Design. Understanding design concepts helps me be a more well-rounded professional.
  • Take as many internships as you can.
  • Prioritize learning to write well as soon as possible.
  • Treat the “AP Style Guide” like the Bible.

Oakland University’s Public Relations program balances students’ skills in efficient management and effective communication. Students have the opportunity to learn from industry professionals in the classroom and experiential learning through PRSSA. After graduation, many students have pursued successful careers in public relations, marketing, communication and more.

Account Coordinator

Sean Lobos Headshot

Sean Lobos, OU Public Relations

Account Coordinator, Allied Global Marketing

Career Highlights:

Seeing movies early, meeting celebrities on occasion and coming up with creative marketing campaigns [are all features.]

Reflections for current students:

  • “Learn keyboard shortcuts.
  • Utilize your contacts.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Put your contact information on everything. You never know who will reach out with opportunities.”
Marketing Communications Specialist

Emily Newberry, OU Public Relations and Communication

Marketing Communications Specialist, H.W. Kaufman Group

Highlights of your job:

“[I have] a hybrid work schedule. I love working from home and going into the office around once a week. It allows me to get to know my co-workers better while still enjoying the comfort and convenience of working from home.”

Reflections for current students:

“I always felt like my professors truly cared about me so definitely get to know your professors and peers because those connections will help you long into your career. Get as much experience as you can before you graduate, whether it’s an on-campus job like working at The Oakland Post or getting multiple internships or joining the PRSSA e-board.”

Communications Associate

Lauren Reid Headshot

Lauren Reid, OU Public Relations with minors in communication and English

Communications Associate, Airfoil Group

Career Highlights: “[My job has] quick pacing of the PR agency, pitching reporters and being able to write.

Reflections for current students:

  • “PR Writing was super useful. I also loved the social media class.
  • OU has the best professors and most supportive system ever.
  • Put yourself out there and join everything.
  • Try out what interests you.”
Public Relations and Social Media Specialist

Madeliene Mason Headshot

Madeleine Mason, OU Public Relations with a minor in Spanish

Public Relations and Social Media Specialist, Financial Plus Credit Union

Career Highlights:

“[I appreciate] creating connections within my community and getting to be a part of meaningful events. Also, [my job includes] content creation and scheduling for social channels.”

Reflections for current students:

  • External PR is a great class to gain “real” experience.
  • I wish I had taken the Media Design class. Hard skills are so valuable in my profession.
  • Don’t compare yourself to your peers.
  • Be open-minded about internships and explore your options.

Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations

Wilson Hall, Room 316
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, MI 48309-4486
(location map)
(248) 370-4120

General Department Questions: