From her early academic experiences at Macomb, Nicole Szymczak’s life and career have flourished – and how! Wife to her high school sweetheart and mother to three, she says she has “a lot to be thankful for, and to keep me busy.”
When she’s not caring for her children, Szymczak enjoys a multitude of activities, including “writing, photography, biking, hiking” and traveling. She also assists a local organization, Weekend Survival Kits, with ensuring kids receive nourishing food during non-school hours. At home, Szymczak’s family never lacks a delicious meal, as well. Her husband and she both enjoy cooking, as well as hosting parties.
“Our dining table is the most important tool in our kitchen,” notes Szymczak, “because it gives us a chance to connect.”
Creating connections is a common thread for Szymczak, who serves as the senior communications director for the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University (MSU), her alma mater. There, she leads a team who is “responsible for all digital and social media communications,” as well as “marketing campaigns, public and media relations, and executive and internal communications.” She also works with WKAR, which houses the Lansing area’s NPR and PBS stations.
Prior to her role with MSU, Szymczak served as a producer for NBC affiliates in Traverse City, Las Vegas and Detroit before going on to become the communications and marketing director for Lansing Community College. There, her expertise was instrumental in building their “first content marketing campaigns” and a social media presence, as well as managing their television and radio stations.
Szymczak has amassed a sizable list of accomplishments in 38 short years. But, getting to where she is today required her to push herself to persevere in the face of tragedy. She started at Macomb in 1998, working full time to pay for classes, while exploring “all different subjects from acting to geology.” Living directly across from South Campus with her father, it provided a convenient and affordable option.
“Macomb was the best place for me to launch my career and my life,” Szymczak explains, expressing that the college “gave me the experience I needed to balance work, learning and life.”
When her father had a heart attack and unexpectedly passed away in 1999, Szymczak suddenly found herself in need of guidance. Her psychology professor at Macomb, Dr. Blush, was there to help.
“He helped me work through some of the emotions I was trying to deal with,” shares Szymczak. “He allowed me to continue my studies in psychology in a special topics course, and that was the key reason I was able to transfer.” In 2000, Szymczak, “propelled to succeed” in her father’s honor, continued her studies at MSU. She adds that she is “a first-generation student who attended a four-year college.” When she graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, her mother, who had been combatting multiple sclerosis for more than 20 years, watched her walk the stage. “I think it’s safe to say it was a proud moment for both of us.”