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Jody Hawkins: A career in communications taking flight

One recent graduate of Washington State University’s newest campus in Everett is proving that making an impact in North Puget Sound’s aerospace industry isn’t just for engineers.

Jody Hawkins, 49, is a first-generation high school and college graduate. For the mother of six, the accessibility of WSU Everett made her college education possible.

After graduating with her associate’s degree from Everett Community College (EvCC) in 2011, Hawkins knew she wanted to pursue a career in marketing and social media where she could share stories using pictures, words and video.

Hawkins describes finding WSU Everett’s integrated strategic communication program as “perfect timing and the perfect program.” She said “I knew the location because I went to EvCC. It just felt like the right fit.”

It also helped that WSU’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication is nationally ranked and highly regarded nationwide by educators and professionals.


A family decision

Returning to school took a major commitment from Hawkins and her family, but she says her family was very supportive of her pursuit of a four-year degree at WSU Everett.

Jody and her family after commencement at the Future of Flight in Mukilteo.

With all but one of her children out of the house, Hawkins said that it was a huge commitment juggling being a student and a mother to her youngest daughter, Lydia, who is still in high school. “I was for the very first time not home, and I honestly had no idea what a commitment it was going to be,” Hawkins said.

Although Hawkins was not at home like she was with her other children, she said “It gave [Lydia] an appreciation for what she was going to have to do. All of her siblings were older, so she didn’t actually see what they went through. It was the first time [Lydia] could see how much work college is.”


An intimate campus environment

In addition to the convenient location, Hawkins says that one of the major advantages of attending WSU North Puget Sound at Everett was the intimacy of each class. “The first year had such a small cohort, it was a better fit for me to have the small class size where I felt like I could get to know everyone,” she said. “The group became family.”

With guidance from WSU Everett faculty, who have firsthand experience in the industry, students have been able to develop a diverse set of skills that will assist them in becoming professional communicators.

WSU Everett professor Brett Atwood working one-on-one with Jody in class.

“I learned so much because the instructors were real people, in real-world jobs,” Hawkins said. “They came from careers in the industry. I felt like I was getting a glimpse of what it would be like in a certain industry which would directly impact my future.”

Hawkins loved the insight and personal interaction that Murrow College professor Brett Atwood brought to his classes.

“The intimacy instructors have with their students at Everett is not something you would typically see at a large, four-year university.” Hawkins said that “the one-on-one interaction is what made me successful at WSU Everett from the get-go.”


Access to industry

In two years at WSU, Hawkins was able to develop relationships with local businesses by creating meaningful marketing projects. In her Creative Media Strategies and Techniques course, she developed an original strategic plan, website and social media campaign for Housing Hope, a local nonprofit that works toward finding long-term housing solutions for both homeless and low-income families throughout Snohomish County.

“It was exciting to see Jody bring her passion to a real-world project that extended beyond the classroom,” says Brett Atwood, professor at WSU Everett. “Through her hard work, determination and dedication, she gained valuable insights and made strong professional connections that will last a lifetime.”

Hawkins is currently assisting with a project to get the Future of Flight and The Boeing Company into the Guinness Book of World Records by getting a record number of signatures to celebrate Boeing’s 100th birthday. The current world record is 71,542 signatures, which was set in 2012. You can sign the birthday card virtually here.

As a senior, Hawkins interned at the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour where she supported their marketing and social media efforts. One of her favorite projects was making an instructional video for the Bernoulli table display. In this exhibit the Bernoulli principle is used to explain how the movement of air over the curved wings of an airplane creates lift, allowing them to fly. Hawkins was able to take the technical skills she learned in class and apply them to her work. Working with Housing Hope and the Future of Flight helped her understand her love of working for nonprofits, Hawkins said. After her internship, she knew she wanted to work for one.

Taking flight

After graduation, Hawkins was offered a full-time position at the Institute of Flight, the foundation arm of the Future of Flight, as their Public Relations and Social Media Associate Director. Now she promotes upcoming events at the Future of Flight, manages the visitor service representatives and organizes events to support fundraising efforts. She is making an impact as an aerospace education booster and supporting one of the region’s premiere tourist destinations.

“The aerospace and tourism industries provide so many connections and opportunities,” said Hawkins. In addition to her own career taking flight, she is excited about how fast more women are becoming professionally involved in aviation, which is why she has set a personal goal of beginning the process to earn her pilot’s license by her 50th birthday.

Learn more about WSU Everett Integrated Strategic Communication or apply here.