Ashante Patterson MCM’20, SAS’18, a communications and marketing manager with the Mount Sinai Health System, is a content writer, communication strategist, and dynamic advocate who is passionate about raising awareness of health inequities. While majoring in English at Rutgers, she took writing and journalism classes that helped her become a better writer and develop the mindset of a journalist. She received her Master of Communication and Media (MCM) degree in 2020 with a specialization in Health Communication. Patterson shared her inspirational educational and career journey in this conversation with SC&I.
SC&I: What sparked your interest in the specialized field of health communication?
AP: My interest in health started during my junior year at Rutgers when my grandfather passed away in his late 60s from heart failure. Due to the lack of awareness of health inequities that affect communities of color, I didn’t fully understand the treatment options that could have helped my grandfather. From that day forward, I was intent on educating myself about healthcare disparities. After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I learned about the MCM program and I liked that the degree had a health communication specialization. I knew that with this degree, I could apply my knowledge and communication skills in a career at a hospital, academic medical center, or health organization.
SC&I: What kind of work have you done, and what are you doing now?
AP: While in the MCM program, I was a development and alumni relations assistant at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. My dream job has always been to lead communications and write for a healthcare system or health organization. I currently lead internal and external communication and marketing strategies for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s Department of Global Health and Health System Design and for the Arnhold Institute for Global Health. I also support their fundraising initiatives. I am blessed to say that this program has helped prepare me to be in my current position.
SC&I: How did the MCM program help you prepare to meet personal and career challenges?
AP: My studies at SC&I were very instrumental in my growth as a communications professional. I’ve always been nervous about speaking in front of people, but through my courses and interactions with professors, I have become better at presenting my ideas. I focus on producing quality results and making a significant impact. I’m always happy to apply the experience and skills I’ve obtained throughout my life and career to an interesting project, especially one that involves creative problem-solving and innovative thinking.
SC&I: What classes and instructors had an impact on you?
AP: MCM Program Director, Teaching Professor Richard Dool, has significantly influenced me. He helped me to conquer my fear of public speaking when he asked me to talk to prospective students at an MCM graduate student information orientation session. Most of the courses I’ve taken in the program were with Professor Dool because he is an excellent instructor. I liked that he gave examples of real-life scenarios in discussions. Two of my favorite classes he taught were “Persuasion and Advocacy” and “Negotiation and Communication.” They helped me learn better ways to communicate and use negotiation strategies in everyday life and in my career. Associate Professor of Communication Matthew Matsaganis was also instrumental. His “Health Communication and Community Health” course helped me to analyze health inequities and healthcare practices in urban communities from a different perspective. Another favorite is Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies Melissa Aronczyk, who taught “Critiquing Marketing Communications.” This course prepared me to utilize marketing strategies and analyze types of branding that I may witness or use in my career. I have used these techniques in my current and previous positions to improve communications within my department.
SC&I: Did you participate in student activities while in the MCM program?
AP: Yes, I was co-vice president of the Master of Communication & Media Graduate Student Association. I worked with other students and members to establish better ways to improve the student experience for MCM students. I enjoyed meeting with other association members to discuss events and hearing from students about what they wanted to get out of the program. I was also co-chair of the Rutgers Global Health Institute Student Council.
SC&I: What career advice would you like to share?
AP: View every person you meet as a door that may lead you to a new opportunity.
SC&I: What’s something that others might not know about you?
AP: I’m a New Jersey native who enjoys reading and writing—and I’m an avid jewelry and eyeglasses collector!