My Inspiring Role Model, Professor Arunima Krishna

Dr. Arunima Krishna, a Boston University associate professor of Public Relations, taught the Mass Communication, Public Relations, and Advertising Module in the Introduction to Communications class offered this Fall. I interviewed Dr. Krishna to learn more about being a minority woman in the field of Communications, particularly in her concentration of Public Relations.

Photo Credit: Boston University

Being a minority woman myself, I hadn’t seen many women of color who are professors in the field of Communications. Having Dr. Krishna teach my class showed me that there are minority women in this field and feel some kind of comfort. I remember after my first class with Dr. Krishna, I called my dad to tell him how excited I was about having my first Indian professor. That’s why I chose Dr. Krishna as my profile subject since she inspired me to believe that I could succeed in this field.

I knew that Dr. Krishna grew up in India, but I was interested in how she reached the field of Public Relations.

As a child of two immigrants from India, I had a unique perspective on this scenario because I remember the shock when I told my parents about my interest in Journalism. To say the least, they weren't the happiest I have ever seen them.

Traditionally, my parents always assumed that I would go into one of three career paths: engineering, medicine, or commerce. It’s safe to say that a Communications major is not in any of those categories…. so I wanted to hear about Dr. Krishna’s experience with this same scenario.

“It was a little scary, but what helps is that college or university websites talk to you about what career paths you can take later.” Dr. Krishna said.

College websites, resources that I often took for granted, are what fueled Dr. Krishna’s case to further her career in Communications away from home. Websites are what led Dr. Krishna to pursue a Masters and a Ph.D. from Purdue University in Mass Communications.

Dr. Krishna believes that college websites are “a useful resource for students who are unsure of whether a certain major is right for them and whether they really want to pursue that career path.”

She’s right – students should know what they are signing up for when they sign up for their upper-level education. So, it got me thinking about what exactly her undergraduate major was and how it segued to a Masters and Ph.D. in Mass Communications.

“I studied at the University of New Delhi and majored in Commerce, which loosely is equivalent to an American degree in Business,” said Dr. Krishna.

Photo Credit: University of Delhi

Having a business degree and choosing to go into a Communications path was something that perplexed me, so I asked her about what made her choose that transition from Commerce into Communications.

Dr. Krishna brought up how she, “worked for a large food company called Britannia and [she] was part of their Marketing team,” and after joining the workforce she explained that “there is a trend towards your career stalling after a point, if you don’t have a masters or an MBA.”

Photo Credit: Britannia Industries Limited

Looking back at my perspective, that is precisely what both of my parents did. My mom got her Masters in Pharmaceutical Chemistry after her undergraduate degree because she felt that she needed more specialization to succeed in her career. My dad did his undergraduate in India and when I was in middle school, he got his MBA to have a stronger credibility when applying for jobs. It’s crazy how I never recognized those notions, but Dr. Krishna had realized them from the start.

She explained, “After working at Britannia for a few years, I realized I didn’t want an MBA, I wanted to do something different. So I started researching programs in the US that were kind of like business but not exactly... and that’s when I came across Communications.”

Essentially, Dr. Krishna’s career path didn’t start from an undergraduate degree. It started from exposure in the workforce and the amount of success she had in her field was astonishing to me. From learning about her part in the campaigns against the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa to seeing her engage with a room of potential communication students, Dr. Krishna has made her mark, even if her mark didn’t start during her undergraduate days.

After talking to Dr. Krishna about her own life, I wondered what she thought of regarding diversity in faculty and her answer summed up exactly what I had been thinking. To her, “representation matters, we know that. It’s a good thing when your professors look like you, and even if they don’t look like you, if they can expose you to a perspective that’s different than yours, that’s why you come to college.”

Diversity in faculty is integral to student success. Hearing about different experiences from different races and about different perspectives is what makes college a learning experience. Not one person from high school knows every single perspective on a single issue (I know I didn’t), but college is supposed to help you build that foundation of understanding.

Having Dr. Krishna as a Professor showed me something that I had never seen before. She showed me that people who look like me and sound like my family can excel in the field of Communication. Dr. Arunima Krishna is a role model to me, so thank you, Dr. Krishna, for showing me that I can pursue a career in Communications and hopefully be that role model to someone else.

 

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