Student Success Story Suzan Al Shammari
Suzan Al Shammari’s first introduction to a working environment in communication was through a social media position for Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia during her freshman year. She recalls being very persistent with following up on her application, saying, “Every week, every two weeks, I would check in and I would email and eventually the mayor was just like, ‘Bring her in. She’s not gonna stop emailing until we bring her in!’” While her persistence got her the interview, she credits her Communication Studies skills for getting her the job, saying, “I used the skills that I learned in school of how to interview, how to be charismatic, how to ask questions to your employer, and how to really show them that you are the best candidate for that job.” Since then, she has utilized her professional and interpersonal skills to work in the political sphere. By the end of 2019, she was invited to direct the Bloomberg Presidential Campaign in Orange County.
Majoring in Communication Studies gave her a practical skillset and a better understanding of herself. Suzan had struggled with her cultural identity since she was born in Iraq, lived in Egypt, then moved to the United States. After taking an Intercultural Communication class with Dr. Jessica Abrams, Suzan learned to shift her perspective, saying, “For somebody to really teach me to embrace who I am, embrace my identity, embrace the kind of confusion—even the small confusion that comes with identity when you grow up in different cultures—That’s something she was teaching me to embrace and celebrate.” This important lesson, along with the pride and confidence it inspires, stays with her to this day.
Like many CLA major students, Suzan dealt with her fair share of doubts about the utility of her degree in the workforce. In response to those doubts, she would tell people, “Everything that you see right now, all that facilitation—whether it’s in politics, government, or even day-to-day life—has an aspect of communication and strategy to it,’” emphasizing that a wide variety of jobs require strong oral and written skills that come from an education in Liberal Arts. If she didn’t choose to work in government and politics, she would still have many other paths for her to choose from, thanks to the flexibility that comes with her degree. While these times are difficult for everyone, Suzan keeps a positive mindset by leaning on her accomplishments, saying, “What’s helping me now [during COVID-19] is trying to be positive and thinking, well, I’ve completed my education, I have two degrees, I have a good work resume, and I’m able to do something I love.”
As for her final words of advice, Suzan says, “As candid as I can be, I would say, ‘Be a badass at what you do!’” What we can take from her statement is that we should strive for the lives we authentically want to lead with a sense of passion, dedication, and focus.