20 Questions with Crystal Wall Ghassemi
What is your name?
Crystal Wall Ghassemi
What was your major/minor?
For my undergraduate degree, I majored in Mass Communication and minored in history. My graduate degree is also in mass communication.
What degrees did you earn and where did you earn them?
I’m happy to say that I’m a two-time South Alabama graduate! I earned my Bachelor of Arts in 2005 with magna cum laude honors and my Master of Arts in 2007, both from the Department of Communication. I have also completed the Executive Development Institute from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management and have earned my APR (Accreditation in Public Relations).
When did you graduate?
BA: 2005; MA: 2007
Where do you live?
Where do you work?
Dollar General Corporation
What is your position?
Director of Public Relations
What are your duties?
I have the honor of managing the public relations function for the Fortune 200 company that encompasses more than 14,000 retail locations, 15 distribution centers and 127,000 employees.
What do you like most about your position?
I absolutely love that I have the opportunity to work on a wide variety of communication functions each and every day including media relations, issues management, crisis communications, executive communications and so much more. No day is alike another so it’s always refreshing to have a constant pace of change at work. Plus, I love working for a company that’s truly dedicated to its mission of Serving Others, particularly around helping people improve their lives through literacy and education. It’s a good feeling to know the work I do and company I support makes a true impact on others.
What is your best memory from attending USA?
After 6 ½ years at South, it’s too hard to narrow that down to just one. I think the experiences I had, the friendships I made and the connections I earned are part of an incredible sense of belonging to the South Alabama family. I will always look back fondly on times at Azalea City and Magnolia Grove golf courses for practice, the 12-hour car rides to tournaments, spending endless hours at Stanky Field watching the Jaguar baseball team, getting together with classmates at the Bubble after graduate classes, walking across the stage at both graduations with my family cheering me on, endless hours studying for graduate comps, the sheer excitement when my thesis committee approved my thesis on October 31, 2007 (yes, I remember that day vividly!) and so much more!
What organizations were you involved in while attending USA?
I came to South on a women’s golf scholarship and was part of its NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Team. I also was part of Alpha Omicron Pi, Lambda Pi Eta and the Student Athletic Academic Association.
What professional organizations are you currently involved in?
I am currently on the board for the Public Relations Society of America’s chapter in Nashville and also serve on the Board of Advisors for the Belmont University Department of Public Relations.
What advice can you give current students?
Don’t post anything on any social channel that you wouldn’t want your mother to see. Your social media footprint is permanent and could possibly come back to bite you later in life. Also, education development doesn’t end with the receipt of a degree so never, never stop learning.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years, I hope to continue to be doing what I am now… hopefully without the addition of grey hair.
Where do you draw your inspiration (personal, professional role models/influences)?
My family is at the center of everything I do and they are my constant inspiration and motivation. I’ve also had the extreme fortune to have a number of mentors that continue to provide counsel and wisdom including former professors Dr. Don Wright and Genevieve Dardeau, as well as professional colleagues.
Do you have any personal life updates to share (i.e. achievements, big life moments, etc)?
After graduating with my Master’s degree in 2007, I moved to Portland, Oregon in 2008 and then to Nashville in 2011. My husband and I are also the proud parents of two sons.
One recent highlight was the ability to come to Mobile in August 2016 to make the formal announcement of Dollar General’s title sponsorship of the Dollar General Bowl, which is held in the Port City each December. It was a great homecoming in a way to work with former colleagues and see folks that I hadn’t since I left in 2008. I’m excited to come back again this year for the 2nd Annual DG Bowl this December!
If you could do anything differently, what would it be and why?
Absolutely not! I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I’m so thankful and grateful for the time and experiences I had at South. When applying for schools, I had the option to attend other universities and I am so glad and grateful I chose to come to South. The experiences I had and the relationships I made are worth their weight in gold to me.