Morgan Bailey Follows in Footsteps of Aunts by Earning Degrees in Communication

When Morgan Bailey graduated with a bachelor’s degree in strategic communication from Southern Utah University (SUU), she carried on a family tradition.

Two of her aunts, Jessi Excell-Allen and Justi Excell-Lundeberg, also graduated from SUU with degrees in the same area of study.

“They got me thinking about it,” she said. “I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do for a career. During undergrad, I fell in love with my classes, my professors and everything I was learning.”

The experience was so positive for Bailey that she also graduated from the online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Professional Communication General program at SUU in December 2021. She especially appreciated the versatility and flexibility of the program.

“Earning a master’s degree was never really in my plan,” she said. “I chose communication for my undergrad because I loved how broad it was and that there were so many different things I could do with it.

“You could focus on whatever aspect of communication you are interested in. I focused a lot of my research and program on communication in higher education, which I really enjoyed.”

Bailey is about to start a new role as a clinical rotations coordinator at Rocky Vista University. Before that, she worked numerous jobs at SUU, most recently as a student success advisor. She recently relocated to Riverton, Utah.

“I was super lucky to be able to work for SUU,” she said. “They paid for the master’s program, which was awesome and another incentive for doing it.”

The online format worked out especially well for Bailey as she worked full time while earning an advanced degree.

“The flexibility was so nice,” she said. “I was worried about it at first because I appreciate having a relationship with my professors, talking with them and asking questions.

“I found that they were just as responsive online as in person. I was able to still have those great relationships with them.”

Nest of Thunderbirds

Bailey grew up in Syracuse, Utah, and knew about SUU at an early age because of her aunts. She completed the bachelor’s degree in 2019.

“In high school, I took a communications class that I enjoyed,” she said. “I went to SUU’s campus when I was younger to hang out with my aunts.

“My husband, Ryan, also has a communications degree from SUU. It’s ingrained in us. We are grateful for everything we learned there.”

In the online M.A. in Professional Communication General program, Bailey enjoyed the Applied Communication Theory course and the Advertising and Public Relations Strategies course, taught by Jen Burt.

“I have always liked the idea of advertising and public relations,” she said. “I didn’t go into that specifically, but a lot of advising in higher education is like public relations and marketing to your students.

“It was cool to learn about those things on a broader spectrum and start to think about applying them to my role. We thought about public relations and advertising in regard to SUU. I loved all of my classes with Jen Burt. She has a lot of great experience that students can learn from.”

The knowledge that Bailey learned in the master’s degree program was useful to her former role and the position she will soon begin.

“You learn all of this information, then start thinking about how it relates to you and your job,” she said. “Everything was applicable.

“For most of my research papers, I ended up writing about something relating to my job. That was awesome for the grad program and also for my job and co-workers. My boss appreciated that I was doing research on our program, advising and sharing that information with co-workers.”

Higher Education Home

Bailey’s family and friends were happy to see her earn a second degree. They especially loved seeing her graduate from SUU, where so many of them studied.

“They were super supportive,” she said. “I come from a family that is really invested in education. They were excited I wanted to do the master’s program.

“I learned and grew so much. I always recommend the program to my students. I love being able to hype up the program at SUU.”

Bailey completed her journey by walking the graduation stage at commencement, which she encourages any online graduate to do. She looks forward to seeing where the master’s degree will take her.

“I don’t have an ultimate career goal right now, but I love higher education,” she said. “I would love to stay in it as long as possible. The degree definitely creates opportunities.”

When she has some free time, Bailey enjoys traveling with her husband, attending concerts and rooting on the Atlanta Braves baseball team. With her lineage and experience, she knows that she will always treasure her time at SUU.

“The faculty members are so knowledgeable and willing to help,” she said. “They want you to be successful, so don’t hesitate to reach out to them and build those relationships. The information I learned from them is so valuable.

“Knowing the faculty in the communication department and having worked with them in a professional role, I have so much appreciation for them. I know how much work goes into that, and they are awesome at what they do. I felt super lucky to be able to learn from all of them. It was a great experience.”

Learn more about SUU’s online M.A. in Professional Communication General program.

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