Leticia Couto graduated with a degree in journalism/strategic communication in May 2018. She is originally from Recife, Brazil. Since coming to KU, she’s realized her path lies in academia, so post-graduation she plans to continue her education by attending graduate school. She was involved with Media Crossroads, the School of Journalism’s interactive, multimedia center, and was part of the Journalism Student Leadership Board.
Journalism is something that’s very practical. At the time, I wanted a hands-on experience with journalism and that’s not something you can find in Brazil. Media classes are very theory-based, which you can’t really use in the workplace. When I told my parents that I wanted to do journalism, they joked that if I wanted to make money at it I’d better do it abroad. I don’t think they thought I would take that seriously, but here I am. I took everything they said at face value.
I came to KU as a communications major, and the reason for that is because journalism in Brazil is called communications so it was more of a lost-in-translation kind of thing. I looked at the classes in coms and realized they had nothing to do with what I wanted to do. I looked at other programs, and journalism felt like the perfect fit. I never had any desire to be a reporter or work in broadcast, so I knew straight away that I wanted to do strategic communication.
I applied to seven different universities through a program called Institute of International Education. They have a partnership with KU through which they provide good scholarships and basically make people like me, international students, able to come to KU. None of the other schools had a program as affordable as the KU-IIE scholarship and that’s how I ended up at KU. I didn’t know what a Jayhawk was or have any interest in basketball when I got here.
One thing that I have to give KU props for is the International Student Services. They do everything they can to make students feel welcome, safe and prepared for their lives in the U.S.
I’ve met really important people in my life while here at KU, from an emotional perspective, a professional perspective and an intellectual perspective.
I’m going to go to grad school. I do not know where yet, but I’m going to study either journalism or communications because I want to go into academia. And to think that I wanted to leave Brazil because it was too theoretical, but I want to become a professor, so the plan is to get my master's, then get my Ph.D.
Research methods, with Dr. Yvonnes Chen, made me realize I liked research more than the talking to clients or design aspect of strategic communications. I realized I liked analyzing data and writing out what I found out much more. Then I took an independent study course where I did a comparative study on differences and similarities between children’s advertising legislation between Brazil and the United States. That solidified my desire to go into academia.
I’m proud about the fact that I could make it this far in another country while my friends from back home are living with their families. Even though I miss being close to my family, I’m proud of my journey.
My advice for incoming freshmen is to never think that you’re too young to get started. Do not be afraid to join media organizations like the UDK. Get your name out there, do things as soon as you get here. If there’s anything that’s vital to surviving in strategic communications and journalism, it’s networking and that starts at school.
Angie Baldelomar graduated May 2018 with degrees in journalism and film. During her time at KU, she has been involved in student media, including the University Daily Kansan and KJHK. Post-graduation, she plans to write for a media outlet. Eventually, her goal is to make films.