July 19, 2019


Yesterday was the end. The grand finale. The bodacious buxom babe has hit her final bravada. I write this post graduate school. That’s right–I have finished grad school.

With one final submission to Johns Hopkins University, I have, after five years, completed all requirements for my graduate program, and have earned my Master of Arts in Communications.

What a weird relief.

In a sense, I accidentally enrolled into this program. I had come home from Israel just in time to avoid the 2014 conflict. Amped up by how I saw Twitter being leverage in news consumption, I knew I had to learn more. One Google search led me straight to Johns Hopkins University and their Advanced Academic Programs; by the time the school year came back around, I would not only be returning to my ninth grade English classroom, but also to the online learning environment of the electronic system called Blackboard.

I was so excited for this grad school experience, and it did not disappoint. This has been an amazing experience, earning my masters through this program. I have learned so much about who I am as a communication professional as well as how powerful our words can be.

Five major takeaways from the last five years of studying are…

1. LAW IS DEMANDING. I had toyed with the idea of becoming a lawyer right up to my enrollment in this program. One of my first two electives was Law for Communication Professionals. This course dealt a ton with first amendment legalities and was taught by a lawyer working for Georgetown University Law who had previously presented cases before the United States Supreme Court. I have never worked so hard for a class than this one (with the one exception being University of Minnesota Duluth’s History of Modern Russia, as taught by Dr. Alexis). As much as I think I would still enjoy it, this course made me a little more OK with my decision to ditch the LSATs.

2. I REALLY LIKE MARKETING. As an entrepreneur, I have always looked towards trends and similarities in scenarios. A ton of what falls under the umbrella of communications is related to marketing and consumer relations. I learned soooooo much about digital communications during grad school that has helped me better serve you.

3. MY HEART STILL YEARNS FOR MASS COMM. I filled my course load with as many electives related to journalism as I could. That was my original undergraduate major–I was to study journalism and international relations.  While I do not regret my switch to education in the least, there is still a part of me that loves the idea of media credentials and clothing emblazoned with PRESS.

4. ONLINE EDUCATION < ON CAMPUS COURSEWORK. I loved (LOVED) my program and professors at Johns Hopkins AAP. With that said, it became very apparent to me when I finally made it to campus on July 9 to defend my thesis that I missed college life. Not THAT college life (I truly never really lived like that)…I mean group study times in the library or coffee shop, sitting and chatting and chilling with professors and advisers during office hours, and free flowing stream of ideas and discussion. I didn’t realize how much I missed that during the course of grad school. Online was my only real option, but I definitely missed the “college experience” during this round of study.

5. SOCIAL MEDIA HAS MADE OUR WORLD SUPER SMALL. My thesis dealt with the use of Twitter in news coverage, specifically that in areas prone to war and conflict. We are literally just a few characters away from so many people, it is crazy to think about how connected everyone with access to the technology truly is.

So what’s next now that I am done with grad school? A Ph.D? Maybe. Finally writing that book I had been picking at for years? There’s a chance, I guess. But most importantly, I am going to take some time to let it soak in that I have reached this personal milestone, and let it have it’s moment.

Kayla Lee is a Minnesota-based wedding and elopement photographer who provides services to elegant, authentic, joyful couples who not only choose their own adventures, but also live them to the fullest.

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At home on the road. Forever-focused on authenticity and the thrilling art of creation; always found in the moments that leave me breathless and in awe. 

After fourteen years as a high school educator, I stepped back through a door I thought was closed. Journalism came back into my life. Armed with a Masters of Arts in Communication, I was again challenged and prepared to tell the stories that would become history, but with a twist: It is now your legacy of love that I document. The tension I seek is that from every tear, smile, laugh, and moment of love on your wedding day. 


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