Media studies major Tori Foster develops a broad range of communication skills to succeed in the digital world
Tori Foster is still mapping out her career path as she completes the final two courses for her bachelor’s degree at the University of Missouri–St. Louis this summer.
But the media studies major and Pierre Laclede Honors College student has given herself plenty of possibilities in the realm of communications by taking advantage of opportunities to develop skills and enhance her resume.
In addition to her degree, Foster, who is graduating magna cum laude, has completed a minor in digital marketing communications and earned a certificate in public relations. She’s taken courses in video production and worked as a reporter and sports editor at The Current. She hosted a sports and entertainment radio show – “Tea Time with Tori” – through her involvement with the Student Electronic Media Professionals Association and landed a job as a sports news editor at the sports site Yardbarker. Most recently, she had a co-op/internship with Emerson, a role that is ongoing and has her contributing internal corporate communications for the company’s IT department.
“I feel like I can vary on what I want to do,” Foster said. “If I do want to do journalism, I can. If I want to do something dealing with social media marketing, I can do that. Or if I just want to be a publicist, I feel like I can do that. The options are endless.”
Her versatility should also serve her well no matter which path she chooses because the platforms and methods of communication are ever-evolving, whether in journalism, marketing or public relations.
“Tori is a thoughtful student,” said Jill Alexander, an associate teaching professor the Department of Communication and Media who first met Foster in her Introduction to Public Relations course several years ago. “She is smart and eager to learn. Tori loves and enjoys writing. I look forward to watching her career blossom.”
Foster first recognized her passion for writing and communication during an Advanced Placement Composition and Literature course her senior year at Normandy High School, and she decided to make it her college major.
She considered several other schools in the St. Louis region – and a little farther away – but there were too many reasons that kept pointing her toward UMSL.
Foster had taken part in the UMSL Bridge Program while a student at Normandy, and her older sister was enrolled as a student studying social work, so she had familiarity with the campus and liked the environment she observed visiting her sister in Oak Hall. She also found it affordable, with enough scholarships and financial aid that she wouldn’t be buried under a huge amount of debt.
Several teachers at Normandy who’d attended UMSL also spoke highly of their experience, helping convince her it would be a good fit.
Foster hasn’t ever regretted her decision.
“I really like UMSL,” she said. “I like the teachers here. I feel like they really care about your education. Even though the pandemic is going on, I still feel like I get that one-on-one help if I really need it. They’re really there. They really care about you getting the grades or you understanding the material.
“There were plenty of times when I went to office hours, and the teacher would stay past their office hours just to make sure I get the material or record a lecture or get on a phone call with me so that I can break it down even more. Just knowing that I have that extra help and guidance has really meant a lot.”
Foster deserves the credit for seeking out opportunities to get involved, and she found she really enjoyed going out and interviewing people while reporting for The Current. It fit her outgoing personality.
In addition to Alexander, she was also quick to credit Ryan Krull, an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Communication and Media and the faculty advisor for The Current, for helping her improve her skills and alerting her to potential jobs. Krull helped point her toward the position she had editing sports stories at Yardbarker. Alexander, the faculty advisor for UMSL’s Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter, helped connect her to the opportunity at Emerson.
Foster also found plenty of guidance and good advice from her work with the Triton Telefund. James Bragado, UMSL’s manager of Annual Giving, credited her with raising nearly $14,000 for UMSL students through her calls to alumni and other donors. Foster, meanwhile, made a poster filled with inspirational sayings she received in return and used to keep it on the wall in her room.
She will no doubt lean on some of that wisdom as she determines what to do after graduation, though she has some time because her co-op position with Emerson is guaranteed until February.
“I’m excited for the future because I don’t know what it holds,” she said. “You always have that anxious feeling, wondering ‘Am I actually going to use my degree to find a job in my career field.’ But I also feel like I’m such an adventurous person that I can do something for two or three years and see how it goes.”
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