| MLA Communication Student Redefines Her Career |
While employed in her chosen field of hotel management in Miami Beach, Florida, international student Bianca Prado-Vargas had a valuable “Aha!” moment, spurring a shift in her career path and taking her through the MLA Program at University of St. Thomas. Having already achieved an undergraduate degree in international business and hotel and tourism management from a university in Switzerland, her epiphany came as she handled one-on-one interactions with guests at the five-star hotel.
“I’m creative and you don’t get to exercise that wearing a hotel uniform and adhering to a strict protocol for dealing with individual guests,” Prado-Vargas said. “At the same time, I realized I liked the administration part and working with an employee team.”
Prado-Vargas thought that public relations, community affairs or human resources would be a better fit for her creativity and would capitalize on the skills and talent she acquired through growing up in nine countries on four continents. The Peruvian-born woman speaks three languages and has a United Nations-like appreciation for various cultures and idioms.
She decided a graduate degree would increase her marketability for the new career path she had identified.
“Most positions nowadays require a master’s, and there also was an expectation by my family that I would get a higher degree,” she said. “But honestly, I also wanted it for my own personal fulfillment. It gives me more credibility, and I believe higher degrees lead to higher salary levels.”
Since her parents were living in the Houston area, Prado-Vargas moved in with them to begin her search for the right program.
“I was attracted to UST because it is a private university with a small student-to-professor ratio. The campus is beautiful, and the professors are great and easy to reach,” Prado-Vargas said.
She also liked the flexibility of UST’s Master in Liberal Arts Program, permitting students to customize their degree by selecting from 20 different areas of study. Prado-Vargas picked communication.
“My Communication courses included areas such as public relations, inter-cultural studies, media and social media.”
Learning was augmented by valuable real-world experience gained through a five-month internship in Community Affairs at Univision, which she heard about through a fellow grad student.
“I loved everything about community affairs and television—writing scripts, screening and scheduling public service announcements, helping with production of public affairs shows, representing the channel at community events, and meeting important people in the course of the job,” she said. “One thing I learned is you need to be a perfectionist when it comes to details because you are frequently the last person to read something before it is said on the air.
“The MLA prepared me theoretically and the internship was a great opportunity to put what I was taught into practice.”
As Prado-Vargas searches for the best professional position, she knows she found the right MLA program.