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Balancing Act: Career, Family, and a Lasell Master’s Degree

Pamela Garretson G'16 reflects on her experience in Lasell's MS in Communication/Health Communication degree program.

Pamela Garretson G'16

Maintaining a delicate balance between school, career and family is a challenge for every working professional, Pamela Garretson included. Garretson knew that the bulk of her online work toward her Lasell master's degree would need to be completed after her young daughters' bedtime. "While I did lose some sleep," she tells Leaves, "this flexibility allowed me to get the most out of my coursework with minimal disruption to the rest of my life." And, Garretson credits her Lasell MS in Communication with a concentration in Health Communication with giving her an edge over other candidates in advancing at New Jersey's Atlantic Health System-a six-hospital, statewide network of medical centers, services, programs and physicians. She has been promoted twice since garnering her Lasell MS, reaching her goal of becoming director of communications, overseeing the vast Morristown, NJ-based organization's public relations, internal communications and social media teams.

What attracted you to Lasell's MS in Communication/Health Communication degree program?
I have a BA in American Studies from Brandeis University. When I first began researching online master's degree programs, I didn't realize that a Health Communication degree existed. Once I learned about Lasell's program, I realized that the subject area I wanted to study, coupled with the flexibility of scheduling and coursework, would be a great fit. I also took the time to read descriptions of the courses required and found them both interesting and relevant to my field.  

What appealed to you most about Lasell's program?
When I considered returning to school for a master's program, I realized that I needed as much flexibility as possible to successfully complete my coursework while also balancing my career and children. The online aspects of the course were very appealing, as I knew that the majority of my work would be completed after my daughters, Madeline (age 11) and Julia (age 6) were fast asleep.  

How about that celebrated work-school-family balance?
Neil Green, one of the first professors I had, took an interest in me through the papers I submitted. At the end of the course, he asked if he could use one of my papers as an example for future classes. While he didn't realize it at the time, his request gave me the extra confidence I needed to stick with what sometimes was a delicate balance between school, work and family.  

What stands out most for you about the Lasell program?
The online discussions between students and professors about our readings and projects. Each student brought a unique perspective that made me consider various points of view.  

I love to read (for fun, now!) and spend time with my family. My kids keep me very busy at softball games and gymnastics; we also love to bake together.  

How has your Lasell MS degree helped your career?
I've been promoted twice recently-from manager of internal communications at Atlantic Health System to director of internal communications to director of communications. I have advanced from being a public relations coordinator at the same organization over the last 13 years and definitely feel that my Lasell degree gave me an advantage over other qualified candidates.  

Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?
I can see happily remaining director of communications for quite some time. This position at this organization has been my goal.  

Would you recommend Lasell's grad degree programs to friends and colleagues?
Absolutely. My Lasell experience is one that I will cherish. There were many late nights, but walking at graduation with my children, husband and parents cheering me on made it all worth it!  

To learn more about Lasell's expanding roster of graduate programs, including the new Master of Science in Nutrition for Human Performance degree, go to on the Web, phone 617.243.2000, or e-mail

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