Ramz Shalbak, Master's in Professional Communication '18

Communication for the Greater Good

Ramz Shalbak MA '18 has long been passionate about serving the community. Ramz grew up in Jenin, Palestine, and started volunteering when she was just 16 years old, renovating and creating safe playgrounds, planting trees, cleaning streets, and painting road signs. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree, she devoted more than 500 hours to volunteering at orphanages, senior homes, and elementary schools.

Continuing to serve the greater good after college, she helped underprivileged communities in her country move toward a better urban future by making their voices heard through her work with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. As a Communication Outreach Officer, she was responsible for the program’s public outreach efforts. It was this experience that made Ramz realize the power of communication to help those in need, and ultimately fueled her desire to expand her skillset and pursue a Master’s in Professional Communication at USF.

On how Professional Communication can help the disenfranchised:

“I have always had a passion for working closely with people and listening to their stories. Working with the United Nations gave me the opportunity to work with people in communities I hadn’t heard of, even though we lived in the same country.

“One of the projects we worked on was building a residential compound in Hebron for under privileged women who are heading their families and need support to become economically empowered and independent.

“I see myself raising awareness on what these and other communities are struggling from and, at the same time, helping these communities communicate their messages to the public. And this is one reason I decided to pursue my Master’s in Communication.”

On the benefit of guest speakers:

“The monthly speaker series gives us the chance to learn from leading communication professionals in many fields such as entertainment, tech, business, or journalism. For me, it’s like a bridge between theory and practice.

“Recently the program invited John Buchanan, the Director of Public Relations at Reed Smith LLP. He focused on media relations and shared some tactics for dealing with the media, especially when a company is facing a crisis.

“Buchanan said, ‘Being a PR person means you have to be a People person!’ Immediately, a smile was drawn on my face — I have always considered myself a ‘people’ person who is able to easily connect with others on both personal and professional levels. It made me realize I am on the right track.”

On building a solid network for the future:

“Being part of the program is giving me a chance to grow a network with other fellows who are already working while pursuing their degree, and others who are going to take different career paths after they finish their degree.

“Once you realize how much diversity there is within the program — whether it be cultural, career, interests, or ways of thinking — you realize how much you can learn from each and every one of them. Many are coming from technical backgrounds in engineering and design; others in journalism and media, some already in communications, while others are in nonprofit. We’re creating a solid network here that will be beneficial for us in the future.”

On how the program can equip you for a career in nonprofit:

“After I graduate, I want to continue working as a communication professional with nonprofits that are concerned with women and children’s issues in underprivileged or marginalized areas.

“Giving students the chance to dedicate their work to their distinct interests is what makes this program special. I am taking a class in Communication and Marketing for Nonprofit, which will provide me with a chance to learn more about the practice of communication and marketing specifically in the nonprofit sectors.

“The program also offers an internship program, which will be an opportunity for me to build upon what I am learning and the skills that I already possess. My goal is to do an internship with a nonprofit that is dedicated to working with women and children, such as Global Fund for Women, which has an office based right here in San Francisco.”