Kathryn Stroppel has served as the college’s director of marketing and communications since August 2011. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has spent her career working in health care public relations and marketing. Before joining the college, she was editor of the alumni magazine at A.T. Still University in Kirksville, Mo., and Mesa, Ariz.
What made you decide to get into marketing and communications?
“I really had no idea what I wanted to do when I graduated from a small, rural Midwest high school. I knew I liked to write, so I applied to the University of Missouri, which was an hour away from home. I was accepted to its School of Journalism, consistently ranked No. 1 in the country, which has paid off many times throughout my career. The J-School Mafia sticks together, and there are a few of us at Oregon State!”
Why did you choose Oregon State?
“I lived in Astoria for a summer after college and fell in love with Oregon. I swore I would move back, when I had a job, and 16 years later I did. With my husband and two kids in tow. My husband landed a job with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and I was super fortunate that my current position was available at the time and that together, we were a great fit.”
What is your favorite part of the job?
“As a storyteller, I love meeting people and learning what makes them tick. At the college, that includes diverse students, alumni, industry leaders, supporters and, of course, faculty. I really enjoyed meeting Dr. Richard Besser last year when he came to speak on campus. His advice on the importance of communication and working with the media was spot-on. I rarely get to talk with journalists these days, especially one of his caliber, so it was a joy.”
What is your greatest accomplishment in the field to date?
“The first thing that comes to mind is awards – one from the American Heart Association for a series I wrote on a rare heart condition, and another from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation for my first front-page news story. These days, I find satisfaction in other ways, particularly volunteering and mentoring. Even though I’m a bit competitive and still go for those awards, relationships live on longer than any award and fill my bucket better than accolades.”
How do you change people’s lives with your work?
“A college degree most definitely changes people’s lives, and I am one cog in the wheel that supports students’ success and the success of the college and university as a whole. Research is also important, and I’m lucky to work with several dedicated researchers committed to making the world a healthier place. I love sharing their work with others in the hope it enhances their health or the health of their community.”
What is the best advice you ever received – and who gave it?
“I love ‘The Four Agreements,’ a short, smart book that sums up the best advice I’ve ever been given: ‘Be impeccable with your word; speak with integrity and say only what you mean. Don’t take anything personally; nothing others do is because of you. Don’t make assumptions; find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. And always do your best, which will change from moment to moment.’”
What advice would you give students and recent alumni?
“Appreciate where you are in life and enjoy the moment – this time and place. It won’t come back to you, and it will become part of your past sooner than you think. Don’t settle, and don’t feel pressured to ‘settle’ down. It’s OK not to have everything figured out right now. Make mistakes, take risks, travel, live in new places and explore!”
What is one surprising thing about you not many people know?
“I’m a communicator and generally an extrovert, so I’m a pretty open book. What usually shocks people is that I was painfully shy until my second year of college. Journalism school cured me of shyness forever.”
What are your favorite activities outside of work?
“The majority of my time outside of work is spent with my husband and two young kids, getting together with friends, trying new wines and exploring wine country, spending too much time on Pinterest and remodeling and/or painting something in my house. I have a bad case of DIY.”