Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

Message to the Class of 2011

Leah-Michelle Nebbia

BA in Public Communication with minors in Marketing and Economics

Leah-Michelle Nebbia

Leah-Michelle Nebbia will graduate summa cum laude with a B.A. in Public Communication with minors in Marketing and Economics.

In her time at AU, Leah worked as a Resident Assistant for Housing and Dining Programs and is a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America. As the Assistant Director of Housing for the School of Communication Discover the World of Communication summer program, Leah worked with high school students interested in studying communication.

One Nebbia’s favorite experiences was studying abroad in London, where in addition to course work she held an internship at Say Communication working in their specialty health care practice with clients focused on promoting infant and toddler nutrition. As a senior, Leah interned at the Washington DC office of MSLGROUP, Publics Groupe’s flagship specialty communications, PR and events network. There she assisted the team in serving clients such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care and Nestle Healthcare Nutrition.

Moving forward, Leah will continue with MSLGROUP as an Assistant Account Executive working with the Healthcare and Public Affairs practice groups.

Message to the Class of 2011:

To my fellow undergraduates in the Class of 2011,

In the past four years we developed into filmmakers, journalists, storytellers and strategic communicators.  In eight semesters we went from being lovers of film to the person behind the camera; from news fanatics to those who produce the stories. One hundred twenty eight weeks later we reached a benchmark that we looked forward to with the completion of each film, feature story and case study.

Since the beginning of our educational journey, we are reminded of and hear about the averages that define who we are as a group of individuals.  We know before applying that a typically student spends four years in college and the average SAT source to get into AU. We have cumulative and major GPAs, and now upon graduating the percentage of how many of us will continue on to graduate school or enter into the 24 percent of us that will be employed.


As communicators, we are taught to use numbers in order to effectively communicate our messages to the public.  Research brings credibility to newspaper articles and broadcast stories. Figures are used to create target audiences for strategic communication plans.  As a public communications major, I found demographic characteristics in order to communicate messages for clients such as the Investigative Reporting Workshop and Hilton Hotels and Resorts.

It is easy to get caught up in these facts and numbers that are apart of our everyday culture that many times measures success by the numbers. This is particularly true  if we feel a dissonance between what we feel we are as individuals and the average.

But, if there is one thing I’ve learned from School of Communication that I would pass along as advice to my fellow graduates is that we,  the Class of 2011 are anything but an average.

Yes, statically we performed approximately four internships. Looking beyond the number, we worked in the newsrooms of the White House and CNN broadcasting to millions of people.  We held internships around the globe in Madrid, Cape Town and Chile. We traveled the world filming in Prague and the Galapagos. We were apart of a historic presidential election, worked on the campaign trail and documented the results for generations to come.

Here in the School of Communication we have never just been a number. The smallest school at American University, we are in classes with ten people and have individualized attention from some of the most brilliant communicators in the industry.

Given these experiences, today in moving forward we give those numbers meaning. We will show the world what it means to be a graduate of the School of Communication beyond the numbers.

So how will we bring meaning? How will each of us matter after we receive our diploma beyond just another statistic?

When thinking about these questions, I looked back to my freshman year entry-level communications class with Professor Menke-Fish.  As many of you many know she begins each session with everyone getting up and introducing themselves to their classmates in an informal networking session.  While this experience is at times awkward, what we began to do was talk to each other, communicate with our peers. We talked about who we are, what we want and how we are going to get it. That first day we began to speak up, share and develop our voice as communicators.

Our voice, each of us speaking, writing and producing makes us who we are as communicators.  Our voice and ability to communicate our convictions is what we have to offer to industry. It is a voice that lived through the financial crisis and vaguely remembers a time we got on an airplane without taking off our shoes. In the last four years we developed our own path and are now going out into the world to serve and create that which we believe and enjoy. Our voice will give the numbers meaning.

My voice as a public communicator truly began to take form during my study abroad experience in London working at a small public relations agency.  For the first time I was able to take the elements of the PR plan taught to me by Professor Ivancin and social media tactics shared from Professor Kumar to serve clients in the health care industry.  I spent my senior year working for a large PR firm helping represent companies who educate health care professionals about proper nutrition for people in hospitals and empower the American people to take responsibility for their health care. I will continue to learn and develop my voice as a public relations agency professional.  I believe my voice will help clients advance their mission into the future.

How will you use your voice? How will you prove to society that our generation is more than a group that can be generalized and quantified?  Moving beyond our time at AU we stand as individuals not apart of a number. I encourage you all to use your voice to do what it is that you feel matters to you.  Film it. Write it in a blog or editorial. Tweet it. Stand up and share your voice.

The world is listening.

The School of Communication focuses provided students with the fundamental training to go out in to the field and have the necessary skills to communicate our message.  I feel that the hands-on learning working with real clients creating communications plans and performing communication research has prepared me to take the next step into the work force as a communications professional.

In particular, my experience working for Hilton Hotels and Resorts in Professor Kumar’s Public Relations Portfolio class prepared me for my future career working at a public relations agency. In creating a full strategic communications plan, I was able to apply my knowledge of each stage of the planning process and pitch our ideas to company executives.  With her guidance we research, wrote strategies and tactics and developed media storylines on behalf of a leader in the hospitality industry.

Other Messages

Alex Priest
Caitlin Moore