May 8 is graduation day for Thalissa Grant-McClure, the culmination of a two-year adventure to gain a master’s degree in mass communication. It also will be her second day on campus. The first will be May 7.
Grant-McClure, who completed her studies in fall 2020, is a resident of Guyana, the only English-speaking country in South America. All of her graduate work was online. “I cannot wait to be on campus. I want to see some of the things I’ve missed not being on campus,” said Grant-McClure, who plans to tour campus May 7 and take some selfies with her husband and her brother, a U.S. citizen.
She has been to the United States several times and has family in New York and New Jersey, but has never visited the state in which her alma mater is located.
In her native country, Grant-McClure is a public relations officer with the post office, which is a semi-autonomous entity that has government oversight. Her schooling has allowed her to become a “trendsetter” in her profession there, learning “technological secrets that are not necessarily readily available where I am located.”
As an example, she has proposed that rather than sending news releases, the postal service would give media personnel access via a unique login to what is going on in the organization. “It’s something I really like,” Grant-McClure said.
Her work with the postal service is a second career. She has spent 10 years in education with her first teaching job coming right after high school in 1998. Years when she wasn’t teaching high school students, she was tutoring. During her teaching years, she also orchestrated trips for her students to Venezuela, Margarita and Panama.
Grant-McClure enrolled in the SDSU online program while still in education.
“I needed something that had the flexibility I needed. I wanted a mass comm program that would work with my schedule and not require me to relocate,” she said. The “shopping” process took several years and she finally enrolled for fall 2018 after deciding the SDSU program offered “everything I wanted.”
“I never expected to be a graduation speaker. That was not something I aspired to during the course of my studies. When I got information I was nominated (by a faculty member), I was exhilarated, overcome with emotion,” she said, recalling the email she received in March.
“When the opportunity came, I thought ‘Why not?’ I’ve worked really hard for it. I thought it was a fantastic opportunity,” Grant-McClure said.
Her graduation speech will be one of encouragement and challenge based on her own introspection. “Why me? Why now? Why here? I’m absolutely positive I’m not alone is asking those questions.”
Grant-McClure and her husband, Cordell McClure, have three daughters, ages 24, 18 and 10.
She will speak at the 4 p.m. Saturday, May 8, ceremony for graduates of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.