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999Wednesday April 22, 2009

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Their American EDGE

The OCU mass communications degree sets the foundation for three graduates’ diverse pursuits

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RITER, editor, public relations professional — Mathew Thomas has been there and done that. The 32-year-old’s diverse portfolio is a reflection of the dynamism and fluidity of the media industry. As Singapore pushes ahead with its transformation into a global media city — as outlined in the Media Development Authority’s (MDA) Media 21 blueprint and the recentlyannounced $230 million booster to further develop the industry — the demand for savvy professionals who are well-versed in the key media fields of journalism, broadcast, advertising and public relations grows. Mathew’s venture into the media industry would not have been possible if he had not followed his heart and signed up for Oklahoma City University’s (OCU) Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications at the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) in 2001. BOLD MOVE THAT PAID OFF After serving his National Service, Mathew joined an outdoor training company as an administrative executive. However, he knew that his interest laid elsewhere. Mathew was drawn to the media industry as he was interested in “the sharing of ideas”. So, he made the bold decision to quit his job and enrolled at MDIS as a fulltime student. “The OCU programme had a good track record; the modules were relevant yet challenging, the lecturers were all senior faculty from the American campus; while the local tutors had extensive industry experience.” The programme, which has been offered at MDIS since 1992, is the first American mass communications degree programme in Singapore, and has been a popular choice among aspiring media professionals.

MATHEW THOMAS

EMILY TENG photos jason ho

Since graduating from MDIS in 2004, Mathew has been able to build a career that spans across different fields — he was an editor and writer at several healthcare publications, and subsequently an associate account director at local PR firm Bang Public Relations. Now, Mathew is a senior account manager at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. Asked if he encountered difficulties when he made the switch from writing to PR, Mathew said: “The OCU programme built my foundation — I’ve learned the fundamentals of journalism, public relations, advertising and media research.” He added that the programme’s broad scope also enabled his classmates to pursue careers in other fields, such as the civil service, events management and banking. STEP UP TO THE NEXT LEVEL While the OCU degree helped Mathew forge his career, it took Augustine Anthuvan‘s career to the next level. In 1992, the then-32-year-old joined MDIS as a part-time student. He had been a producer at a production house for 15 years and felt that he needed to upgrade. Through the OCU programme, he brushed up on his skills in news gathering and writing, television programme scripting and research methodology. Other modules he took during the course, such as Politics, Economics, America and The Future, heightened his sensitivity to news and events around the world, which came in handy after he graduated in 1997. During his last semester, Augustine was offered a producer/presenter position at the now-defunct Radio Singapore International at the Radio Corporation of Singapore, which is now known as Mediacorp Radio. In 2005, he joined Channel NewsAsia (CNA) as a senior producer. Today, the

50-year-old is a news editor at CNA’s international desk. Reflecting on the strength of the OCU programme, he said: “You get real value from the lecturers from OCU, who are all senior faculty members. “After coming to Singapore for so many years, they have become acculturated and they are able to see the Asian perspective on the subjects they teach. I think it’s an advantage that combines the best of both worlds.” MAKING WAVES At the tender age of 21, Emily Teng has accomplished more than most people her age. While studying for the 15-month OCU degree full-time, she juggled a part-time stint at local radio station 987FM, which she has been doing since 2006. “My education at MDIS reinforces everything that I’ve learnt at the station; it also gave me insights into how the Singapore media operates,” said the spunky DJ, who hosts Weekend Buzz every Saturday and Sunday.

Emily, who has studied in Singapore, Indonesia and Australia, said that the OCU programme stood out due to “the exchange programme and its large international student body”. Undergraduates are required to complete a three-week residency programme at the American university where they learn more about television production, environmental science and lifestyle management. Emily completed her programme last December and is now immersing herself in several community projects, including Blessings in a Bag — a non-profit organisation that collects items and donations for orphanages and communities across Asia, which she founded. “The skills I’ve learnt in public relations, advertising and marketing have contributed to the way I’ve carried out my community work. For example, I’ve benefited from learning how to capture an audience and how to communicate with the public and organisations.” — Melody Tan

AUGUSTINE ANTHUVAN

MDIS SCHOOL OF MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MDIS has come a long way in establishing itself as one of the leading institutions for mass communications programmes. Its flagship programme, the Oklahoma City University’s (OCU) Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications introduced in 1992, is recognised for offering comprehensive training in the key fields of mass communications. From working closely with industry partners, MDIS’ School of Media and Communications (SMC) has adopted a

hands-on approach to the delivery of the programme, to ensure that graduates are industry ready. At SMC’s Media and Communications Club, students can hone their skills through the campus newsletter and the television studio, which is equipped with state-of-the-art filming and editing facilities. In the pipeline is a student-run campus radio station, which is scheduled to be launched in the second half of the year.

For more information, log on to www.mdis.edu.sg To request for a brochure, SMS <OCUA><Name><Email> to 73333. You can also call 6247 9111 / 6372 1000 or email etc@mdis.edu.sg


Their American Edge