Starting back to move forward: A journey from an older student

by Ernie Galgozy

It was 2008 and I remember being at an awards banquet inside the beautiful Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada when the presenter said, “For best newsletter editing for a circulation under 1,500, the award goes to Ernie Galgozy and Local 1375 from Warren, Ohio.” I was so excited. Here I was in Las Vegas surrounded by my peers and being given a top award. It was surreal.

I was a union newsletter editor from 2000 – 2012 until the great recession wiped out and closed steelmaking capacity from the plants I represented.  Armed with only an associate degree in business administration (from Kent, Trumbull I might add) I did pretty well in communications.  What I discovered was how much I truly enjoyed that experience now that it was gone. I wasted no time in getting back to school to learn more about what I loved: communicating.

Once I met my Kent State academic advisor, I was surprised to learn how many concentrations are offered in communication studies.  Since I had a pretty decent grip on organizational communication, I went with a public track.  I chose public communications because I believed it would be better to add another tool in my belt of communication skills.  As one professor described it to me, public communication is sort of the umbrella that all other communication falls under.

My first essay assignments made me nervous because I had never written upper-course level essays before. Now my work would be graded by scholars.  I was especially frantic because I was in class with a professor who was notorious for demanding good work.  My goal became to have this professor actually enjoy reading my papers.  After some bumpy starts with APA style of writing, I finally got the remarks I was hoping for.

As a student, I was presented with many internship opportunities.  At first I didn’t like the idea of participating in an internship because I thought those opportunities should be for younger students to gain experience.  Then I began to look at it as an occasion to discover how other organizations prepare their communication.  I liked my internship so much that I am now finishing my third one.  I would encourage all students to seek opportunities offered through an internship and make the most of them—if for no other reason than to network your skills.  You never know who you will come in contact with.

So here it is a week before I will hear my name called again, but this time it will be to receive my Kent State University School of Communication Studies degree.  The road here was unexpected and filled with many talented people along the way.  Kent might not have the glitz of Las Vegas, but Lady Luck sure has been with me here on this journey.  Viva Kent State!


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