Commencement speaker saw purple, picked Tarleton

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STEPHENVILLE — It was purple table linens that initially drew Heather Bushart to Tarleton State University. She’ll be surrounded by purple as she graduates with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies with an emphasis on public relations and event management with Upper Level Honors.

She’ll also make the keynote address at 10 a.m. commencement exercises Saturday, Dec. 14, at Wisdom Gym in Stephenville.

With two sisters who had attended McMurry University in Abilene, Heather was already planning to break the family mold when she strolled through a college fair at Hereford High School in the Texas Panhandle.

“I wanted a change of pace,” she said. “I wanted to make my own path. I saw a purple tablecloth at one of the booths — purple is my favorite color — so I went over there.

“I liked what I saw so I attended a Texan Tour the following March. I fell in love with the campus.”

Her initial degree plan was in journalism, but it turns out PR was what she really wanted to do.

“I realized I’d rather be helping keep a company looking good. I really wanted options, and I felt like public relations offers those options.”

The outstanding graduate in the Communication Studies Department, Heather was part of the Texas Social Media Research Institute at Tarleton as well as the National Society of Leadership and Success. And she has some specific plans after graduation.

First, she wants to work in the Austin area — PR for either a sports team or a law enforcement entity. “I would love to be a communications specialist for a police department or the FBI one day.”

Her education, in her estimation, has equipped her to achieve those goals.

“Tarleton has given me a lot of real-world experiences,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot more than I expected to learn, and not just about public relations, but about being an adult, living my life and not relying on other people.”

Her commencement address, in fact, is about “adulting.”

“You hear the phrase ‘I don’t want to adult today.’ I am talking about defining the term. To me, adulting is being kind and being selflessly selfish, being selfless toward other people and taking time for yourself.

“I’ll also talk about how to respond to people and not react to people, which is a big thing in public relations, and about being scared but being able to continue on.”

And perhaps being on the lookout for your own purple tablecloth.


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