Reflecting on My Time at JWU: Richard Gross '24

Author Richard Gross '24 is a recent graduate of the Media & Communication program and worked as a student assistant at JWU, contributing to JWU News. In the days leading up to graduation, he penned this reflection of his time at JWU.

I am officially getting ready to graduate from Johnson & Wales with my bachelor’s degree in Media & Communication. As I get to the finish line, I’m prompted to look back on these last four years. What started off as an intimidating decision became a transformative experience that has shaped me in numerous ways. Not only has this journey allowed me to grow academically, but personally and professionally as well. Looking back, I remember the excitement and nervousness I felt when I first stepped foot on campus, not yet knowing what challenges were ahead of me, moments of growth I would experience or what a powerful impact JWU would have on me. 

Early Days

When I started my journey at JWU, it was 2020. During the pandemic, things around campus were quite different than they are now. Despite the difficult times, JWU was able to quickly adapt and still give me some of that classic first-year year experience. Being able to come to Providence and move into my residence hall while most schools were fully remote was a blessing of an opportunity. Living in Snowden Hall allowed me to have the city at my fingertips. I remember constantly wanting to get out and explore Providence and try all the amazing restaurants that surround the Downcity campus. Being walking distance from all my classes and an abundance of food options/hang out spots was all I could really ask for. I found that my transition into college living was seamless. All of my nervousness quickly transformed into excitement and an eagerness to experience more.

JWU's Snowden Hall, McNulty Hall and the grass in Gaebe Commons

The Academic Journey

My experience academically at JWU has been extremely eye opening. As a media & communication major, there is a wide array of classes to choose from. Initially, I was interested in the film/production side of the industry. I began taking classes that focused on both the pre- and post-production process of filmmaking. During this time, I was also focusing on photography, as well as the usual core classes for first-year students. While film and photography were things I really enjoyed, I already felt quite familiar with them and wanted to broaden my horizons and challenge myself. 

During my sophomore year, I took an intro-level graphic design course as an elective. I quickly became very interested in learning more about that world. My professors at the time, Tim Cox and Gail McCarthy, encouraged me to keep following that path. They recommended me for some higher-level courses, despite being a non-major. Having someone put trust in me and give me that extra push ended up doing so much for me.

Now, after graduating, I will have taken numerous graphic design courses that set me up with skills and knowledge I would’ve otherwise never had the chance to experience. It was like I was able to unlock this whole other side of myself by trying something new, with the support of my instructors.

The Providence skyline from a window.

It was also around this time that I was able to pinpoint what exactly I wanted to get out of my college experience. I had always been passionate about writing, but it wasn’t until coming to JWU that I realized the potential career opportunities I could have by pursuing it further. One professor in particular, Megan Stoessell, showed that she truly believed in me, and pushed me to grow further than I thought possible. With her help I was able to find a job writing for the University Marketing, as well as a sense of belief in myself and my abilities. By taking as many writing classes as I could fit into my schedule, I ended up with a diverse portfolio and knowledge I wouldn’t have had. 

Personal Growth

Overall, my journey at JWU has been entirely transformative. My experience as a media & communication major led me down a path of exploration where I was able to try new things and challenge myself. The support and encouragement I had from professors like Gail McCarthy and Megan Stoessell empowered me beyond belief. With their faith in me, I was able to explore new industries and unlock new skills and knowledge. 

Johnson & Wales University has not only provided me with knowledge, but self-discovery and confidence in my potential.


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