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On Track to Become an Electrical Engineer, MSLCE Student Does a 180

By Amy A. Ross

One year studying Electrical Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines taught Amanda Strong lots of lessons, none more important than that she had no desire to be an Electrical Engineer.

“My time there made me realized the things I love about engineering, which had more to do with the business, project management, and design sides of the major, but still didn’t really have clear idea of what I wanted,” said Strong. “Being around people so math and science-based almost put me more in touch with my creative side and I realized my need to be around creative people and in a creative atmosphere.”

Strong took “a complete 180” and transferred to Eastern Washington University in Spokane determined to find a way to pursue her interests in a way that better suit her skills and her interest. Unsure about whether to major in marketing, business or English, she accidentally took a couple of classes in communications and public relations and knew she had met her match.The only missing piece in her puzzle was finding a way to bridge her degree in Public Relations with her love for arts and culture. When Strong heard about the existence of a degree that combined courses in business, social media and arts, she knew she wanted in.

“When it comes to my education and my interests, I’m a mixed bag, kind of like this program!”  Although she shies away from calling herself an artist, music and art have held important places in her life. Strong started playing the piano in second grade and played the trumpet and french horn throughout high school in a jazz band ensemble and a marching band. “Music has always been a huge deal for me. I still love playing music, listening to music, and I go to concerts as often as I can. I’m a huge fan of the symphony,” she said. After acquiring her degree in public relations, Strong began working in art promotion for children, with the Northwest Museum of Art & Culture, the local Smithsonian affiliate in Spokane.

She was involved in the organization of art camps and events for kids. During the Spring, she ran the Northwest Museum of Art & Culture’s Make it Art! Booth at their 30th annual ArtFest. In addition to her work with the museum, she put her skills in event planning, volunteer coordination, social media, and promotion to work in volunteering for a nonprofit organization that helps with water and sanitation, health, and education in Kenya. Having explored the niche on the business and organizational end of the arts, Strong decided to apply to the Master of Science for Leadership in the Creative Enterprises. “I saw this place that let me take in all these different skills that I have picked up over the years and expand upon all of them, and hopefully find a way to piece them together!” Strong said.

Raised in a family of entrepreneurs, starting her own business and creating a career in which she can be her own boss also appeals to Strong. “I’m really excited about the business and finance classes because that is something I’ve never experienced before” Strong said. “I consider it as vital: being able to do all the different parts, whether that is in my own business or even being able to talk shop with people at another company.”