Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business

Mariaelena Morales

Mariaelena Morales

"There is a lot of collaboration across the board and just an incredibly human connection with students," says Mariaelena Morales, MSIMC ’18.

Degree: MS in Integrated Marketing Communications, ’18

Occupation: Marketing Coordinator at Brightspark Travel

Why this program?

After doing my undergrad at Princeton and my MFA in dramaturgy at Columbia University, I worked in marketing for nonprofit arts organizations for a number of years, but I had never been formally trained in marketing. I decided I wanted to shift into a different industry, such as sports or travel, but I knew that not having that marketing degree was going to keep me from being able to transition.

While I was applying to graduate school, I met Eve Geroulis, the director of the MSIMC program. Everything she was saying about the program resonated with me in terms of tailoring it to your own interests.

I also had the opportunity to sit in on a class as a prospective student, and even on that first day of class, the level of conversation and the authenticity of the debate that was happening meant a lot to me. Students here are willing to connect with each other.

Favorite experience?

The greatest thing is that professors invest here. They award your initiative and if you are curious and willing to work hard, they will put that effort in for you as well.

I think the greatest example of that is Eve: she is not just an advisor, but a mentor. This past fall, I organized an on-campus drive for hurricane relief. I texted Eve on a Friday night about wanting to do something, and she called me back almost immediately.  We spent an hour on the phone figuring out what the next steps were. I cannot imagine many other universities where on a Friday, your professor will drop everything and give you a call for something that is not even class-related; it is just a human instinct.

There is a lot of collaboration across the board and just an incredibly human connection with students. Quinlan professors approach the faculty-student relationship knowing that there is something they can learn from students, too, which makes walking into a classroom or stopping by office hours really meaningful.

I have been to a few world-class institutions, and in my experience, it is rare to find that human connection at a place of higher learning.

How has Quinlan helped your career?

It helped me build a toolbox of hard skills, such as being able to talk about the ins and outs of marketing, and provided me a strong portfolio, because so many of the marketing classes are project-based. These are very tangible skills and deliverables that the program provided.

What surprised me were the soft skills I gained through this degree. The many group projects teach you how to manage work situations in the real world. You do not get to pick who you are going to work with, and you are going to work with many different personalities and skill sets. During my time at Quinlan, I have learned how to productively work in a group setting, figured out how to lead by stepping back and listening, and see what I can do to try to get everybody’s ideas and strengths represented.

Advice to students in the program?

Anybody who comes here and wants to make this program work for them has to do that not just with class and readings, but with meeting people and taking advantage of social nights and student groups.

This is not the kind of a program that has you memorize a textbook and then come back and spit it out. It is all about what you bring to it, how you interpret it, and how you apply it. Lead a class project, join an organization, attend volunteering events, get to know your professors, and figure out what the program can do for you, what the school can do for you, and what you can do for the school.

There are so many leadership and networking opportunities, including getting to know your classmates, that you learn so much more outside of the classroom. These are real opportunities to get to know the people who could one day be your employer or who could one day be somebody that you employ, because you know them and their work ethic, and you might have the chance to look out for somebody.

Why Quinlan (in 10 words or less)?

This is a place where the individual matters.