I needed a reset

Michal Howick (ST, 2022)

In 2020, I left my job of 11 years to attend Brandcenter. I was the associate director of communications and marketing for my high school alma mater—an all-girls independent school in Tennessee—as well as the school’s head cheerleading coach.

I loved my job. I loved the people. I loved the work. I loved the mission of the school. I loved the kids I coached. But, after a few really hard years and developing a chronic medical condition that completely derailed my life, I grew tired and became unwell, uninspired, and a little lost. I was completely burned out and I needed a change. I eventually felt strong enough and brave enough to actually do something about it.

I interviewed for the MarComm director positions at some schools, but I could not bring myself to continue the processes. Changing schools to do the same work just didn’t feel like the right move for me at the time. Something told me I needed a complete reset.

“What about graduate school?” my professional mentor had mentioned to me in the years before. I had looked into some programs in communications but didn’t think any of them really offered the kind of experience I was looking for if I was going to completely change up my life path. If I was going to start over at this point in my life, I needed to make it count.

And, then, I came across and visited the Brandcenter. I knew this is where I wanted to begin this new chapter of my life. This was my reset.

Brandcenter is undoubtedly the best of the best among advertising and portfolio schools. The program, the alumni, the network—all of these things make Brandcenter leap to the top of the lists. A graduate degree in business, branding, and strategy could be used for so many varied future paths. With this degree, so many doors in so many different areas will be accessible to me.

But, my selecting the Brandcenter wasn’t just about the end result—the degree and where that could take me—but what the journey would look like in getting to that point.

I wanted to start again in an environment where I could push myself and be pushed by others, where I could invest in myself and grow. One that would not only challenge me but also nourish and fuel me. I wanted an environment where classmates were not only infinite sources of inspiration but also teammates and friends. I wanted to learn from professors who were not only industry or subject experts but would also truly know me and mentor me. A program where learning about your craft is just as important as learning about yourself and others. In short, I wanted a learning culture, not just a performance culture. Where collaboration is celebrated more so than having the right answers.

Even though my first year was radically different than normal due to the pandemic, that is exactly what I have found as a Brandcenter student.

Now in my second year—the second 30 of my SIXTY weeks—and looking toward graduation and beyond, I don’t know what my future holds. I honestly do not know where I’ll be or what I’ll do next. But I do know that I’ve never been happier, more excited, felt more fulfilled, or felt more alive. Because I know that wherever I end up and whatever I do, I will be ready and prepared.

Brandcenter changed my life. Brandcenter brought me back to life.

Michal Howick (ST, 2022)