By: Claire Winesett
Stuart Roy, a Starkville, Mississippi, native, decided to go to the local university to pursue his undergraduate education – and Mississippi State University did not disappoint.
Roy graduated in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, and he claims that he “loved every minute” of his time as a student at MSU, a place he describes as a “great community of caring individuals.”
Professors in the communication department, such as Dr. John Forde, the current head of the department, and Dr. Hank Flick, made a lasting impact on Roy’s educational experience. Roy’s favorite class during his time at MSU was Dr. Flick’s interviewing class.
After graduation, Roy set off to start a career in an area of the communication industry that he did not have much experience in.
“After reading a paperback book someone gave me about a White House press secretary from a small town in Mississippi, it all came together for me. It was possible to bring together my passion for communication, politics and policy all under one job,” Roy said. “With no political connections to speak of, I set out for D.C. to pound the pavement and hand out enough resumes to bring down a small forest. I landed a job in the mailroom of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, but to me it was a good as being chief communications advisor to Capitol Hill leadership,” Roy continued.
For the next 10 years, Roy worked his way up from the mailroom to chief communications officer of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, where he worked for four United States Senators – Senators Nickles, Gramm, Campbell and McConnell. Roy also served as the communications director on two different Senate campaigns, and was the campaign manager for another. He later ran public affairs for a cabinet secretary and was the chief spokesman and communications director for the House Majority Leader. After this, Roy served in key positions at three different public affairs firms.
Roy says that other than his family, his greatest success would be tied between two things. First is the opportunity he had to lead communications for the U.S. House Majority Leader for three years that “led to [him] being involved in passing every major piece of legislation during that time period,” such as tax reform, prescription drug benefit for Medicare and major trade bills.
Roy says that this experience would be tied with “setting up my own specialized public affairs firm three and a half years ago that has grown to a half-dozen people and a multimillion dollar book of business.”
As Roy has pursued his passions over the years, he has also used the education that he gained at MSU. He claims that he still uses what he learned in his communication theory class or his elements of persuasion class when talking to clients about why ideas may or may not work, even twenty-five years after graduation.
“Not everyone, and perhaps not even most, have the opportunity to work in their field of study. I did and do,” Roy said. “Those theory classes combined with practical classes like interviewing, and the encouragement to do internships are great preparation for the immediate and the future,” said Roy.
When looking back on his experience at MSU, his education is just a part of his experience at MSU that left a lasting impression. Roy said that one of his favorite parts of his time at MSU was spending time in the iconic Left Field Lounge, the tailgating area that MSU fans can enjoy at MSU baseball games.
Roy’s advice for current and future MSU students in relation to academics and a future job is two fold:
First, “Don't overthink the grades. Just learn and absorb the material,” said Roy. He continued to say that he still cites material from some of his communication classes despite earning “less than stellar grades” in them.
“I was never much of a ‘memorize and recite’ student but I did, and still do, absorb material that interests me,” Roy adds.
Second, Roy said that, “When it comes to setting yourself apart from others, especially for your first job out of college, nothing will do the trick like meaningful internships. Go for a summer to an organization that has value, whose brand means something and work hard to get your supervisor as your cheerleader and advocate.”
“I'm not sure I would have really understood this when I was a student at MSU, but when people tell you how much Mississippi State means for a lifetime, it is true,” said Roy. “MSU is not just about the few years you are in school. It is a lifetime of association, bonds and friendships.”
Currently living in Alexandria, Virginia, Roy said that his interests include “being the best father I can be,” to his two daughters and, professionally, “trying to learn as much as possible about communication principles and new techniques.”
Roy also participates in CrossFit and Masters-level powerlifting, which he said “surprise [his] friends from college where [he] actively avoided most forms of exercise.”
“I even broke a couple of Virginia powerlifting records, surprising even myself.”
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