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School Of Communications

Lifelong Learning: BYU Comms Alum Rebecca Irvine Reflects on Her Education and Career

Irvine looks fondly back on her years at BYU and notes how they prepared her for her current career as a professor and author

In 1992, recent BYU graduate Rebecca Irvine was ready to take on the world. With her bachelor’s degree in communications in one hand and her recent mission call to London in the other, Irvine leaped into adulthood with both feet. When she returned from her mission across the Atlantic, she chose to pursue her master’s degree at the familiar BYU campus. In 1996, Irvine graduated with her master’s in communication.Today, Irvine is a professor at not one, but two schools—Scottsdale Community College and Benedictine University–Mesa—an author of six books and mother of three. She looks back on her years at BYU quite fondly, saying that they helped build the foundation for the rest of her life.“I count my time at BYU as some of the best years of my life,” Irvine recounted. “The climate feel on campus is special.”

As she looks back on how her time studying at BYU helped her prepare for her current career, Irvine recalls her graduate thesis on relationships and micro-marketing. “These were the early days of computers,” Irvine said, “and marketing professionals were experimenting with using databases to personalize marketing pieces sent to clients with the intent to build a relationship.” This research helped her in an internship she took in New York during the summer of 1991 with the McCann Erickson ad agency. During her time as an intern there, Irvine conducted research on which marketing strategies were most effective to reach a wider audience. “This research project was one of the primary reasons I was able to get my first real job after graduating with my master’s degree,” Irvine said.

Encouragement from her comms professors also helped Irvine gain confidence in her skills. “The first time I was told I could write well was by Dr. Dan Stout,” Irvine recalled. “His comment surprised me; I had never thought my writing was anything special. But that compliment gave me a boost of confidence. When I went to work as a research analyst, it involved a lot of report writing. I knew I could do it because of Dr. Stout.”When she began teaching college courses as a professor, Irvine said that experiences at BYU like that one helped her in the classroom. “I drew a lot on my BYU experiences to help me connect with students better,” she said. Irvine never intended to write a book, let alone six (and counting). When she recalls the events leading up to her first publication, “Adventures With the Word of God,” Irvine said the idea came about as a frustration with conducting family scripture study with young kids. “My oldest son just didn’t seem interested and my younger daughters were little enough not to be able to read yet,” she recounted. To help her children feel more involved, Irvine decided to make scripture study time more interactive. One February, Irvine made valentines with chocolate and a scripture written inside. “Each day of the month I would let a child pick the valentine and we would open it up and read the scripture and discuss it,” Irvine remembered. “The kids would take turns who got to pick the Valentine and eat the chocolate. Halfway through the month my kids were reminding me, ‘Mom, it is time for scriptures.’”

Her most recent published work, “Come, Talk With Me,” builds off of the same idea as “Adventures With the Word of God.” It follows the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ “Come, Follow Me” curriculum with discussion cards related to the lesson of that week. The book aims to help total family engagement with the scriptures.“My family is always my inspiration,” Irvine said of her work. “I have seen a need to be met in teaching my children the gospel and have tried to use my writing and teaching skills to meet that need.”

Her next book, “Let’s Learn Together,” will follow the 2022 “Come, Follow Me” curriculum for the Old Testament and will be published in October.Since graduating with her master’s degree in 1996, Irvine said that while she has learned much from her time in the workforce, she is “still going through learning curves.” She continues her lifelong education by keeping up on her reading and attending conferences for organizations like the American Night Writers Association (ANWA). Irvine encourages students to continue their education after graduation, as well. “Don’t think of your education as the end of your learning,” she said.

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