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Source: Massey University

Grace Forlong graduates with her Bachelor of Communications next week in Wellington, at Massey’s first graduation ceremony of 2021.

Grace Forlong found herself in a hot seat as soon as she left Massey University – the Bachelor of Communications graduand began working for Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s media team just days after she completed her studies last November.

Her study journey was a rollercoaster – both personally and academically, but the 22-year-old has ended up exactly where she wants to be, as the team’s Media and Social Media Coordinator.

“I was at Victoria University for two years, starting off as a very lost 17-year-old who definitely didn’t know what she wanted. I tried a huge range of courses before deciding to take a break at the end of 2017.

“Over that summer, I decided I did still want to study and started to look into different options before stumbling upon the Bachelor of Communications – a degree I had never even heard of before. A public relations major seemed to be the perfect combination of all of my interests and fitted exactly what I was looking for in terms of studies and future career opportunities,” she says.

Choosing to make the move to Massey was the best decision she has ever made, Ms Forlong says.

“I absolutely loved all of my courses and my grades were reflecting that for the first time in my life. Massey’s option to choose both distance courses and on-campus courses meant that I had the flexibility to work more hours, but still take on-campus courses and engage with my peers.”

Ms Forlong, who lives in Johnsonville with her partner Oliver and kitten Lilah, has had to battle serious health issues while studying and working full-time.

“I had various medical issues throughout my studies, requiring three surgeries and I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder last year. But I still managed to receive Scholarly Excellence as a top student multiple times thanks to Massey’s approach to teaching and the fantastic engagement with my teachers, tutors and peers.”

So what does her dream job look like?

“My role varies day-to-day as we do both risk reduction messaging and media response for incidents. I write press releases and speeches, and assist in responding to media enquiries. I also monitor the social media accounts and create content for risk reduction messages, as well as post in response to incidents. I also had the exciting opportunity to star in an advert for Fire and Emergency’s latest campaign.

“I would like to thank my professors and tutors for being extremely supportive and understanding of my situation. All of my lecturers and tutors went above and beyond to ensure I achieved the best of my ability, despite everything. I would particularly like to thank my internship supervisor Professor Frank Sligo, for supporting me with my social media internship at Wellington District Police. It inspired me to pursue a career in the public/emergency services sector and provided me with amazing experience which helped me secure my current job.

“I also would like to thank my partner Ollie, for always supporting me with late night assignments, being my model for photography classes, and my camera-man for the many video-presentation assessments over the years.”

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