When Purdue University North Central alumna Rachael Herbert-Varchetto earned her Bachelor's degree in Communication in May 2012, she knew that a world of opportunity awaited.
“Originally I planned on becoming a journalist and wanted to pursue a career as a political commentator. As I got more involved in the major, I saw that Communication is more than journalism or public relations,” she explained. “Communication is way of seeing the world and trying to make sense of it by using logic, science and intuition. Once I understood how broad it is, I started to diversify in my interests for what I wanted to do with my life.”
Herbert-Varchetto, originally from Hanover Park Ill., and now residing in Knox, has a eclectic interests. She’s considered public relations, perhaps utilizing her writing talents for use in promotional campaigns. She has thoughts of becoming a novelist.
An excellent writer with a talent for digging for information, she’d enjoy something in the research field, using her word-smithing abilities to create vibrant, interesting copy. She applied her literary abilities to place second in the short fiction category of the PNC Portals literary contest.
She’s also toying with speech writing. She earned a first-place honor in the 2011 Hyde Park Forum speech contest and went on to compete in the Speak Off finals. In 2012, she earned a second-place Hyde Park Forum honor.
For now, she plans to continue her current job at the Starke County Library to save for graduate school. She is considering entering the Communication program at the Purdue West Lafayette campus.
Her interest in journalism was triggered by her older brother Ross who was a journalist working in Africa.
“He would tell stories about people he’d seen and places he’d been and it sounded exciting and wonderful,” explained Herbert-Varchetto. “I loved Lois Lane as a little girl and I got it into my head that someday I would grow up and report on breaking news stories like Lois. I wanted to be a journalist because I saw it as a way to make a difference and do life-changing work.”
But as a PNC student, she came to better understand that her degree could lead her to a range of interesting, compelling careers.
She credits her professors with exposing her to the many facets of the Communication field and it applies to many aspects of life.
Herbert-Varchetto cites Dr. Dan Padberg, Dr. Scott Smithson and Dr. Jeff Shires with being available to listen, to answer questions, to inspire and to encourage. Individually and collectively, their oftentimes subtle mentoring helped her discover her passions in the field.
“My mother taught me a Jesuit saying, ‘If you do not see the principle, you cannot pursue the cause.’ My experience reinforced who I am and what I believe. I met people who challenged my beliefs and did so in a way that was constructive and helped me to refine my ideas and values. With their help I came to very clearly understand that I am a firm subscriber to the idea that through hard work, dedication and sincerity of spirit, it is possible to achieve what you want.”
At PNC, Herbert-Varchetto earned academic honors every semester for the past four years. She was a member of Phi Eta Sigma academic honorary and was secretary for Lambda Pi Eta national communication honorary and helped organize Lambda Pi Eta Communication Meet and Greet events. She worked on The Voice newspaper, then joined the Panther News Network as a co-editor and reporter.
But she noted it wasn’t always easy to study and tend to work and family commitments.
”Sometimes there was so much going on I would burn the midnight oil to get it all done. Mostly it was about cracking down on the things that needed to be done and spacing them out as neatly as I could so that nothing came crashing down at once, although that did happen from time to time. Basically, just perseverance and lots of coffee.
“As a student, you get what you put into things. If you work hard and apply yourself, you will have a rich and rewarding experience. The saying, ‘those who can, do’ is true in college and in most of life. If you want it, you should work for it.
If you don't, you will just miss out on great opportunities.”