Mehaa chose Queen Margaret University for its outstanding reputation for excellence in communication and public relations education. She also knew that the University’s commitment to fostering student success through hands-on learning and strong industry connections resonated with her professional aspirations. In this Student Story, Mehaa tells us about her time on the MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations course, how she has benefited from all the different opportunities QMU has provided, and what she hopes to do with her new skills after graduation.

Why did you choose to study at Queen Margaret University?

Choosing Queen Margaret University was a tranquil decision for me because of its stellar reputation for excellence in communication and public relations education. What truly drew me to QMU is its commitment to fostering student success through hands-on learning and close industry connections. The university's emphasis on innovative research and community impact perfectly aligns with my personal and professional aspirations. I was also impressed by the supportive and intimate learning environment at QMU, which promises personalised attention and a more engaging educational experience that I believe will be instrumental in shaping my future career.

What interested you about your chosen course?

The MSc in Strategic Communication and Public Relations at QMU captivated my interest with its robust and well-rounded curriculum. I am excited about the blend of theoretical insights and practical skills that the course offers, which I know are crucial in today’s fast-paced, digital communication landscape. Learning from seasoned professionals and engaging with real-world case studies and projects will provide me with a comprehensive understanding of strategic communication, media relations, and public affairs. This program’s focus on strategic thinking, ethical practices, and effective communication strategies is exactly what I need to excel in the field of public relations and corporate communications.

Why attracted you to study in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh's vibrant energy and rich history make it the perfect place for me to study and grow. The city's captivating blend of historic charm and modern dynamism creates an inspiring environment that I find incredibly appealing. Known for its cultural diversity and world-renowned festivals, Edinburgh offers a unique and stimulating backdrop for both academic pursuits and personal enrichment. Additionally, the city’s strong connections to the business and media sectors provide invaluable networking opportunities and potential career pathways. Studying in Edinburgh means not only gaining a world-class education but also experiencing a lively, culturally rich lifestyle that will broaden my horizons in countless ways.

What have you most enjoyed about your course? What has been the highlight?

The MSc in Strategic Communication and Public Relations has been an exhilarating journey. What I have enjoyed most about this course is the dynamic blend of theory and practical application. Every module brought something unique to the table, from public affairs to digital campaigns, offering a holistic understanding of the field.

The highlight for me has been the interactive and hands-on nature of the coursework. We didn’t just learn concepts in isolation; we applied them in real-world scenarios. Whether it was creating strategic communication plans, crafting compelling media messages, or analysing digital campaign strategies, each activity was designed to mimic real-life challenges and opportunities in the field of public relations.

One of the most exciting aspects was the opportunity to work with peers from diverse cultural backgrounds. Collaborative projects and group discussions were not only intellectually stimulating but also broadened my perspective on global communication practices. Engaging in these activities allowed me to witness the power of strategic communication in fostering understanding and cooperation among people from different cultures.

Another standout feature was the strong support from our lecturers. Their wealth of experience and willingness to provide personalised feedback made a significant difference. They were always available to guide us through complex topics, ensuring we fully grasped the practical implications of our studies.

Additionally, the incorporation of industry-based learning was a game-changer. Internships and real-world projects gave us a taste of what it's like to work in the fast-paced world of public relations. These experiences were invaluable in developing my professional skills and confidence.

In essence, this course has been more than just an academic endeavour; it has been a transformative experience that equipped me with the knowledge, skills, and global perspective necessary to thrive in the field of strategic communication and public relations.

Have you participated in a course activity you found especially interesting?

One of the most fascinating and rewarding experiences of my course was organising the "Embrace" event as a part of my courses final project. This wasn't just any event; it was a vibrant celebration of unity and inclusivity through cultural exchange. The idea was to create a platform where students and faculty from different countries could come together to share and celebrate their unique cultures through music, dance, and food.

The planning and execution of "Embrace" were deeply engaging and intellectually stimulating. This project helped me delve into the cultural backgrounds and traditions of the diverse student body, analysing how these could be represented in a way that was both respectful and celebratory. This research provided invaluable insights into the importance of cultural representation and the role of public relations in fostering a cohesive community.

The logistical aspects were equally challenging and exciting. Coordinating with students and faculty, organising performances, arranging for traditional foods, and managing the event’s promotion required meticulous planning and effective communication. Seeing all these elements come together on the day of the event was incredibly rewarding. The joy and connection shared among attendees from over 15 different countries was palpable, and the positive feedback from both students and faculty confirmed the event's success.

"Embrace" was more than just an event; it was a transformative experience that highlighted the power of strategic communication and public relations in bringing people together. It reinforced my passion for this field and demonstrated the profound impact that well-planned and thoughtfully executed public relations activities can have on building community and enhancing institutional growth.

How have your lecturers supported your learning?

"The lecturers at Queen Margaret University have been phenomenal. Their support goes beyond traditional teaching—they offer personalised feedback, engage in insightful discussions, and provide practical guidance that bridges theory and practice. Their dedication to my learning journey has been a constant source of motivation and inspiration."

What have been some of your challenges with the course and university life? How have you overcome them?

Adjusting to the demands of the MSc in Strategic Communication and Public Relations was certainly a challenge. Balancing day-to-day activities like attending lectures, completing assignments, and participating in group projects alongside personal commitments required careful planning. To manage this, I developed a consistent daily routine with dedicated study hours, regular breaks, and time for relaxation.

One of the biggest hurdles was staying on top of the varied coursework while also engaging in extracurricular activities. Living in a new cultural environment in Scotland added another layer of complexity. Initially, it was a bit overwhelming to navigate a different education system and cultural norms. However, diving into university activities, joining study groups, and forming friendships with fellow students made a significant difference. This support network provided both academic help and a sense of belonging, making the transition much smoother and more enjoyable. By maintaining a balanced schedule and actively seeking support, I was able to overcome these challenges and truly enjoy my university experience.

Have you taken part in a placement as part of your course and if so, what was your experience?

Yes, picking the elective module called Industry Based Learning and Professional Development, paved the way for me to a part of a 150-hour internship with the Ukraine Refugee Safeguarding Team at the Scottish Government. This experience was profoundly impactful. Conducting a literature review on trauma-informed measures for refugees honed my research and report writing skills. It also provided me with a deeper understanding of public relations in a governmental context, making it a deeply enriching experience.

Do you have any advice for students who might be interested in applying for this course?

"If you’re considering this course, dive in wholeheartedly! Embrace the practical opportunities like internships and project work—they are invaluable."

Engage actively with your lecturers and peers; their insights will enrich your learning experience. Immerse yourself in the diverse cultural environment and be open to new experiences, as they will enhance your personal and professional growth. And remember, mastering time management will help you balance the exciting academic and extracurricular activities that this course offers.

Have you been a part of any extracurricular programs during your time as a student at QMU? If so, how has it helped you develop skills and experience?

During my time at QMU, I've eagerly immersed myself in various activities, particularly, one standout experience was participating in the ‘Employer Mentoring Program’. This program was a game-changer for me, refining my communication and leadership skills. Collaborating with experienced mentor from diverse industries provided me with invaluable insights and a clearer sense of my career path and helped me acquire Outstanding Engagement Award as a part of this program.

What QMU student services have you used to support you through your university journey and how have they helped you?

QMU offers a wealth of student services that have been instrumental in my academic and personal development. The Effective Learning Service, for instance, transformed my study habits and time management. Their workshops and one-on-one sessions equipped me with practical strategies to tackle coursework more efficiently. Additionally, the Wellbeing Service has been a lifeline, offering counselling sessions and stress management resources that helped me maintain a healthy balance amid the pressures of university life.

What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student?

If I had to give one top tip for making the most of your time at QMU, it would be to dive into extracurricular activities with both feet. Balancing academics with activities like joining clubs, volunteering, and leveraging student services can significantly enrich your university experience. These experiences offer unparalleled opportunities for personal growth, networking, and skill development that are crucial both personally and professionally. And remember, QMU's student services are there to support you every step of the way—don’t hesitate to reach out and make the most of them!

What has been the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned at university?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned at university is the importance of balance and time management. Navigating the demands of coursework, extracurricular activities, part-time work, and maintaining a social life has taught me how crucial it is to manage my time effectively. This lesson goes beyond just scheduling and prioritising tasks; it’s about finding a balance that allows for academic success while also ensuring personal well-being and growth.

Balancing these different aspects of university life has helped me develop resilience and adaptability. It’s shown me that while academic achievements are important, so too are the experiences and skills gained from engaging in activities outside the classroom. This holistic approach to university life has prepared me to handle diverse challenges, both professionally and personally, and has equipped me with a well-rounded perspective on what it means to lead a fulfilling and successful life.

What are you plans after graduation? 

After graduation, I have ambitious plans to leverage the skills and experiences I've gained at QMU to carve out a successful career in my chosen field. My immediate goal is to secure a position in a dynamic organisation where I can apply my academic knowledge and continue to grow professionally. Specifically, I'm interested in roles that allow me to combine my communication, leadership, and project management skill are some the attributes I've enhanced through my extracurricular activities and academic projects.

In the long term, I aspire to advance into a leadership position where I can influence strategic decisions and drive positive change. I see myself working in an environment that values innovation, collaboration, and continuous learning. My ultimate ambition is to make a significant impact in my industry, whether that's through leading successful projects, mentoring the next generation of professionals, or contributing to initiatives that promote sustainability and social responsibility.

Beyond my professional aspirations, I am committed to lifelong learning and personal growth. I plan to continue engaging in volunteer work and community projects, as giving back to society is a core value of mine. Additionally, I aim to further my education, possibly pursuing a doctorate degree or professional certifications to stay abreast of industry trends and advancements.

In essence, I envision a future where I am not only achieving career success but also contributing positively to the community and constantly evolving both personally and professionally.


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