Lucila CejasLucila Cejas, a 2016 graduate of the UO School of Journalism and Communication’s (SOJC) Strategic Communication master’s program, came a long way to attend school in the United States. Cejas shares how the program helped her discover her strengths and passions within the communications field.

Tell us a bit about your background.  

I was born and raised in Argentina, and I have always been obsessed with movies. I moved to the U.S. after high school to attend college, but I was ridden by self-doubt and a huge lack of motivation. I wanted to study film, but there weren’t a lot of job prospects, and I needed a sure thing as an international student. I decided to become a teacher, but I was not passionate enough to see myself in it for the rest of my life.

That all changed when I I took an “Intro to Communication” class. I fell in love with the field and pursued my bachelor’s in communication studies. I also fell in love with a real person and decided to start a family while in school, because I strive in multitasking environments.

Why did you choose to pursue a master’s in strategic communications at the SOJC?

When I was finishing my degree at Portland State University, I heard about the Snowden internships offered at UO. Long story short, I became the first recipient of the Multimedia Internship at Oregon Public Broadcasting. This gave me a glimpse into the School of Journalism and Communication, and I was in awe of the level of professionalism, drive and knowledge everyone had.

I took time off to have a second child, but the communication bug started itching again. The first place I went to was the SOJC website. It was a Saturday night, and I was reading the Strategic Communication program description. I remember I squealed out loud. The classes sounded like topics I would learn for fun in my own time, so the fact that this was a master’s degree that was taught in town at night was like a dream come true.

What experience and knowledge has the program given you?

The program has allowed me to engage in critical thinking at a whole different level. The readings were insightful, and the professors were knowledgeable, experienced and very open minded.

Can you tell us about your research on Generation Z?

The internet has changed my life. I remember being a middle-schooler in Argentina and hearing on the news how we were now able to talk to people from around the world from our computers. As I obsessed over IRC chat rooms, I wondered how kids that grew up with the internet were going to be. Are they going to take computers apart when they are 12? Will they speak many languages?

Fast-forward to graduate school. When I took a Qualitative Research Methods class with Donna Z. Davis, we were required to research a topic. I found out that “these kids” I once wondered about were called Generation Z, which my niece is a part of. From that day on, I began receiving Google Alerts on the topic in order to stay up to date with any studies and articles published on them.

What are your plans after you complete the program?

I am a huge fan of LAIKA Studios, a stop-motion animation powerhouse located in Hillsboro. Since their main demographic is Generation Z, I was able to combine my passions in a few class projects. This led me to the discovery of the fact that North Advertising, a wonderful creative agency in northwest Portland, was conducting community management (a.k.a. social media) for LAIKA’s next film, “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Starting July 1, I will become North’s newest intern and engage with LAIKA fans all over the world. I just might be ridiculously excited about this.

Do you feel the SOJC Strategic Communication master’s program has helped prepare you for a successful career in the industry?

Absolutely. Now that I have finished my degree and I recall my excitement about the topics of the classes that were ahead of me, I realize that the program has been greater than the sum of its parts. Classes were not isolated; I was able to start projects in a class and use them as the foundation of a project for another class. I am also able to talk to professionals in the field and not feel intimidated. I know what I am talking about, and this opens up even created opportunities for learning.

Do you have a memorable experience or lesson learned from the program?

I had the pleasure and utmost privilege of being part of a wonderful cohort. Different backgrounds, ages and personalities, yet we all had a shared passion. In the good times we celebrated, laughed and felt empowered to take over the world. In the bad times we supported each other, focusing on our strengths and helping with our weaknesses. Just like the program, we became more than the sum of the parts.

Story by Nicole Rideout ’16