Communication graduate Jazmin Davis making up for lost time with help of Accelerated MA program

by | Dec 17, 2023

Davis graduated with her bachelor's degree over the weekend and is on track to be the first student to earn her master's next year as part of the new program.
Jazmin Davis in front of the fireplace in the Fireside Lounge
Jazmin Davis graduated with a bachelor's degree in communication and is on track to complete her master's degree next year as part of the Department of Communication and Media's Accelerated Master of Arts program. (Photo by Derik Holtmann)
Communication graduate Jazmin Davis making up for lost time with help of Accelerated MA program

by | Dec 17, 2023

Davis graduated with her bachelor's degree over the weekend and is on track to be the first student to earn her master's next year as part of the new program.

Jazmin Davis expected to be a little emotional walking across the stage at the Mark Twain Athletic Center Saturday afternoon as she took part in the commencement ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Davis has completed her bachelor’s degree in communication, graduating cum laude and with a head start on earning her master’s degree as the first participant in the Department of Communication and Media’s Accelerated Master of Arts program.

The dream of a college education was one Davis had started to give up on before enrolling at UMSL in the fall of 2020. Three years earlier, she walked away from school at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville after struggling academically.

“I did consider myself a failure whenever I decided to walk away and take a break and kind of gather my thoughts,” Davis said. “To me, I think that this just proves that you should look at it differently and look at success differently. People tend to think that success is a straight shot, when I am proof that it’s not always a straight shot.”

Davis didn’t have a clear purpose when she started college the first time in 2015. She was happy to move out on her own, make new friends and enjoy a college experience. She majored in psychology, but her grades reflected a lack of focus on studying, and she was unsure what she wanted for her future.

It was around that time that her older brother fell ill and died from heart failure, leaving Davis shaken. As she dealt with the grief, she felt even more compelled to give up on school. She spent the next three years without much direction, working a series of jobs, many of them in retail, without a lot of stability or prospects for advancement.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the first half of 2020, Davis started thinking something needed to change in her life.

“I think that COVID hit pretty hard, not only physically but mentally, for a lot of people,” she said. “During that timeframe, I really did a lot of thinking about my career and where I wanted to be in life. I think that in that moment, it really took a toll on me and made me realize, I have to put these skills to use, and I want to pick up where I left off. So, in that moment, that’s why I realized I had to get back to school and finish my degree.”

Davis still had a lot of apprehension about being back in an academic setting after several years away.

“I was very nervous only because I wanted so badly to succeed, and I was also worried that I had lost so much time over the years that I would be further back than where I originally started,” she said. “But once I got my foot in the door, I realized the opportunities and resources that UMSL had to offer. They do what they can to make sure that every student’s needs are met.”

She knew when she returned to school she wanted to study communication. A course she took on interpersonal communication at SIUE left her with a good impression, and she sensed that communication was breaking down during the pandemic.

Eager to make up for lost time, Davis also wanted to explore the possibility of pursuing a master’s degree alongside her bachelor’s. She sought a meeting with Professor Alan Heisel, the director of graduate programs in the Department of Communication and Media, to learn more about the 2+3 program.

“In that first conversation, I was immediately struck by her energy, enthusiasm and determination,” Heisel said. “I advised her on what she needed to do to be eligible for the program. As soon as she met the requirements, she applied.”

The department was also in the process of developing the Accelerated Master of Arts program. Like the 2+3 program, it is designed to help students save time and money while earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a condensed time by allowing them to receive dual credit for coursework that applies to both degrees while still paying an undergraduate tuition rate. But the AMA program increases the number of dual credit hours the students can have from six to 12 and awards bachelor’s degrees to students once they’ve completed all the graduation requirements, rather than conferring the bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the same time.

Davis was initially accepted into the 2+3 program and transitioned to the AMA program after it received formal approval from the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education. She is the first student to receive her bachelor’s degree under the new program and expects to complete her master’s degree next December.

Most of the courses Davis took before this semester were online, which was a significant adjustment from her first go-around in college. With a renewed focus – inspired in part by a desire to meet her brother’s wishes for her – she has managed to thrive.

“It would be wrong if I took all the credit myself,” she said. “UMSL definitely played a huge part in that, and the professors that I’ve had have all been very supportive of my journey. It’s also just been me stressing that this was important to me, especially being completely online and learning how to maneuver through, being in touch and communicating with my professors, letting them know my concerns. All the professors are very responsive. They give great feedback.”

Davis has gotten a taste of communication in many different forms during her time in the program and has found herself gravitating to internal communication within an organization or business.

She saw the importance of that while working as a summer intern in human resources at Cardinal Ritter Senior Services. But she still has another year before she completes her master’s degree and doesn’t want to limit herself in the direction she takes after graduation.

“I’m really looking forward to just finding my way into my career, just being able to be more confident in the direction that I’m going,” she said. “I’m pretty excited about that and just want to share my overall journey with anybody else who may be following the same steps that I have. Just letting them know that they have a support system, there are ways and resources that are out there to help them, just like me.”

Share
Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik

Eye on UMSL: The flavor of homecoming
Eye on UMSL: The flavor of homecoming

Senior business major Jalen Walker-Wright gets a cup of southwest chili from Vanessa Loyd and Erin Schaeffer during last Thursday’s homecoming Chili Feed.

Eye on UMSL: The flavor of homecoming

Senior business major Jalen Walker-Wright gets a cup of southwest chili from Vanessa Loyd and Erin Schaeffer during last Thursday’s homecoming Chili Feed.

Eye on UMSL: The flavor of homecoming

Senior business major Jalen Walker-Wright gets a cup of southwest chili from Vanessa Loyd and Erin Schaeffer during last Thursday’s homecoming Chili Feed.