26 May 2009

Researching More Master’s Programs

You may remember my blog about researching MFA programs in creative writing. That was in January, and I’m still interested in earning a master’s degree, but I’m not entirely sold on the practicality of studying creative writing—formally, at least. I think the best way to learn writing is simply to write, a lot, and perhaps more importantly, to read a lot.

Of course, creative writing is still an enticing program option, but I’m now considering interactive media, integrated marketing communication (IMC), and strategic communication (StratCom) as well. I found several excellent programs in the North, such as Medill’s IMC program at Northwestern, but because of my own cost and location preferences, these are my top picks:

Elon University, Elon, NC
MA in Interactive Media
The program looks top-notch, the curriculum looks exciting, and “the university's historic 575-acre campus is a designated botanical garden and is ranked one of the most beautiful campuses in the country by The Princeton Review.” The school is also ranked the #1 School to Watch in 2009 by US News & World Report. The program requires one year of full-time study to complete.

Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
MS/MA in Integrated Marketing Communication
I had considered this school for an MFA in creative writing, so I was happy to learn their IMC program is excellent as well. I'm also interested in library/info science, and their MLIS program is currently ranked 14th by US News. Since FSU recently combined their School of Communication with their School of Library and Information Studies, I'm wondering if a new, integrated degree is coming soon?

University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
MA in Journalism with StratCom Emphasis (online program)
If I decide to go the online route, this is my first choice. Mizzou has one of the best journalism schools in the world, yet their online program is relatively affordable—currently around $500 per credit hour, with 37 credits needed for graduation. There are two focus options for the online program: strategic communication (my choice) and media management.

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
MA in Mass Communication with StratCom Emphasis
I like how this program offers a Professional Track and a Mass Communication track. The Professional Track appeals to my past experience as well as my future goals, and it even allows me to focus on strategic communication (or other areas). I can also enroll in courses at several other NC universities, including Duke, for the same tuition as at UNC Chapel Hill. Speaking of tuition, since I'm not a resident, this program is the most expensive of my five options, thus my attendance would likely be contingent on a Roy H. Park Fellowship or similar financial aid.

University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Master of Mass Communication with IntCom Emphasis
Since I’m a resident of South Carolina, I was thrilled to discover the U of SC has an integrated program. Then, when I read about Columbia’s new research park, Innovista, I was even more thrilled. I’m looking forward to visiting Columbia and sharing my experiences and photos in a future New Thing post.

Now that I’ve discovered these wonderful programs, I am very excited about earning a master’s degree. I think I’ll apply to all five programs and see what happens. For now, it’s back to Cracking the GRE.

19 May 2009

Seeing the Sacred Heart Cultural Center

This week’s New Thing was originally an art exhibit at the Sacred Heart Cultural Center in downtown Augusta. I did go, and I did look at the exhibit (albeit probably too quickly), but I was more interested in the art of the structure itself. After signing the guestbook and exchanging a few words and smiles, ever so politely, I nearly flew outside to get a better look at the splendid architecture of Sacred Heart.

As you can tell by my photos here and the photos online, this is one heck of a structure. Its beginnings date back to 1874, with the current structure dating back to 1897. It was a church for over 70 years, then sat vacant and vandalized for 16 years, then was rescued and refurbished into its current incarnation, a cultural center.

If old buildings could talk, they could say so much... Well, maybe they can, if one knows how to listen.

12 May 2009

Exploring Aiken

Remember the driving tour of Aiken I mentioned? Well, I took it this week and, as expected, I saw some beautiful places. My favorites were the Rose Hill Estate, the Willcox, the St. Mary Help of the Christians Catholic Church, the Aiken Training Track, and Hopelands Gardens. I didn’t see all of Hopelands, because it’s huge, but they have free concerts/performances every Monday evening throughout the summer, so I suspect I’ll be returning soon. What a peaceful, pretty place. I’d like a better look at Hotel Aiken as well, via karaoke and/or live music at their Polo Tavern.

Until then, here are some photos I took at Hopelands Gardens, preceded by a poem I was inspired by nature (and The Last Samurai) to write, several years ago:


There is no single, perfect petal
to spend your life searching for.
There is no need for this
tireless insistence on perfect beauty,
as you dismiss
what lies within reach.
The flowers have known this forever,
but we still need to learn:
Every petal is perfect,
and beautiful.

© Vanessa Campbell 2005

05 May 2009

My First “First Friday” in Augusta

On the First Friday of every month, hundreds of people gather in downtown Augusta to enjoy various types of live music and to browse the shops and galleries that stay open late for the occasion. Bands and street vendors are stationed all along Broad Street, and there’s usually a featured exhibit in the Common area. (This month’s feature, a car show, included the lovely Corvette shown here.)

Looking forward to celebrating May's First Friday, my mom and I arrived fairly early (before 7p), and there were already people feting, neon rope lights flashing, cotton candy scents floating, and good music flowing from seemingly every direction. After looking at cars and lingering at the main music stage on the Common, we walked down Broad Street for some whirlwind browsing. I loved Blue Magnolia, which sells modern home d├ęcor, and Cloud Nine, which sells natural products. I also enjoyed hearing Eryn Eubanks and the Family Fold who, befittingly to their music, were playing outside the Vintage 965 shop.

To top off the evening, I inadvertently made a video (which I am sooo not posting), mostly of people’s butts, with background commentary about a guy who’d had too much to drink, or too much of something: “Ooh we got a live one here...”