The Power of Communication

Jackie Susmann ’14 has landed her dream job: public affairs branch chief for the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, helping public officials communicate to people in rural communities across the nation.

When Jackie started her college career at Colby-Sawyer, she pictured herself changing the world through poetry or becoming the next great American novelist.

“I developed a tunnel vision, only seeing value in the ‘capital-a Art’ of writing,” Jackie said. “The requirement to complete an internship pushed me to learn how skilled writers and communicators are needed across every industry.”

She completed her internship assisting the CSC communications office and was also able to take public relations and journalism courses.

“I was opened up to the world of the press office,” she said. “I never would have considered my career path had I not been required to ditch my comfort zone.”

Jackie does not minimize her experience at Colby-Sawyer, grasping the full value of the skills it gave her.

“The writing training I received at CSC gave me a superpower,” she said. “Early in my career, I quickly gained a reputation of being a skilled editor and writer — able to translate abstract and convoluted government speak into plain language understandable by all. This reputation helped me gain access to leaders across what Abraham Lincoln named ‘The People’s Department,’ now known as the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Because of CSC, I never underestimate the importance of communication.”

Jackie is most proud of how she has continued to nurture her love of learning.

“Former CSC Professor Michael Jauchen once told me that choosing a degree in creative writing is choosing to go down a path of wonder,” she said. “Even after college, I’ve continued to read and learn and try new things. My world is so big, and it’s because I’ve prioritized adventure and followed my curiosity.”

Jackie and her husband, Evan, ski, enjoy the beach, try new restaurants and dedicate their time and resources to adventure. The two recently went on a heli-skiing expedition in Chile’s Andes Mountains.

When asked what she would say to the younger version of herself, Jackie responded, “People are going to tell you that you expect too much, that you’re moving too fast and that you should modify your expectations. You don’t, you’re not and they’re wrong.”