Dashing Ms. Dasher: A Profile on COM Alumna-Turned-Professor

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Born in Augusta, Georgia, Sarah Dasher grew up with a dream of moving New York City to work for Vogue Magazine. The Boston University alumna and current adjunct professor, never expected to find herself in the teaching profession, let alone in the Public Relations discipline. 

After receiving her BA in Journalism from the University of Georgia, Dasher moved to Atlanta where she “put down roots” and kicked off her career in the communications discipline, working in both nonprofit and corporate organizations. “I loved corporate”, said Dasher, “and it just felt like there were a lot more opportunities [and] ways that [I] could work in communications.”

When asked what motivated her switch from Journalism to PR in grad school, Dasher explained that because most of her work ended up being in the corporate comms PR side, she “sort of accidentally backed [herself] into that side of the business.” 

Prior to attending Boston University as a PR Masters student in 2017, Dasher wore several hats in the roles she held for large companies. While her hands-on experience in PR armed her with a good understanding of the practice, Dasher had an urge to attend grad school, believing that doing so would open up new possibilities for her career. 

Approaching forty years of age upon her ‘leap of faith’ move to Boston, Dasher joked that attending grad school mid-career was like her midlife crisis. “Instead of buying myself a convertible, I moved to Boston,” said Dasher. It was a frightening challenge for Dasher to put a pause on her career and pursue the academic route, but through all the assistantships Dasher had while at BU, she felt as though she never stopped working in the communications industry. 

As a communicator, Dasher said she “always [pays] attention to how organizations interact with [her],” and this awareness was especially influential in her selecting BU for grad school. 

“BU blew all the other schools I was looking at out of the water,” said Dasher. She was most impressed with the school’s cohesive communications platform, powerful branding, and tone when deciding where to study. Dasher felt that BU fostered a very welcoming environment, and its energy excited her more so than the other programs to which she applied.

“I knew there were undiscovered opportunities…and I think I wanted a little bit of an adventure,” said Dasher, “and one of the best opportunities to come out of this was teaching.” 

When asked if teaching was always in the cards, Dasher explained that she, “never once wanted to teach before [attending] BU,” believing that it was not something she had in her. But upon graduating with her Masters in PR in 2019, the opportunity presented itself for Dasher to adjunct, which she enthusiastically accepted.

After her positive experience working as a COM 101 TA as a graduate student, Dasher was excited to direct an entire course on her own. Dasher explained, “I felt like I was in a really unique position to know what it’s like to be the student…and flip it [to] be on the other side of the classroom,” when explaining how she fused her professional and academic experiences in the classroom.

To an outsider’s perspective, Dasher’s first year of teaching at BU may not seem ‘conventional’ due to COVID-19 and the many effects the pandemic has had on the traditional academic setting. However, Dasher’s work as a Communications Intelligence Consultant at Cisco–a position she currently holds–has prepared her for remote learning. 

“[My job] was actually remote even before COVID,” said Dasher. Since Cisco is based in San Jose, Dasher explained that she “was interviewed remotely, hired remotely, [and] didn’t meet [her] boss in person until after about a month of working there.” So when COVID hit, Dasher felt well prepared. 

Being a professor during a global pandemic is an undoubtedly different experience, and Dasher is continually trying to innovate the ways in which she engages and communicates with BU students. 

When asked to describe her daily routine at Cisco while working as an adjunct professor at BU, Dasher underscored the importance of maintaining a balance between the two hats she wears. 

“Luckily I am a morning person and sometimes get up at ungodly hours to do grading or work on lesson plans…but it is worth it,” said Dasher. “It is never the BU stuff that makes me feel drained. [Rather], I feel like it is energizing because it is so fun”, continued Dasher, “[and] if anything, I wish I could carve out more time to devote over to BU.” 

Contemplating her long term career goals, Dasher explained that she wants to gradually increase the time she devotes to teaching, and pull back a bit on the time she spends working in the practice. 

“I really like the creative energy and freedoms that come [with] being in the school setting…[but] if you would’ve told me this three years ago, I would’ve been shocked,” said Dasher. While teaching was not in Dasher’s original career plan, it has brought her tremendous joy and will be the future focus of her career. 

“I’m in contemplation mode,” explained Dasher when asked about the possibility of going back to school to get her PhD. “I’ve don’t some research…[and] it’s definitely in the back of my mind,” said Dasher, but having been back full time in the profession for a little over a year, “it’s a little daunting to think about pulling out right now again.” But who knows what the future holds? 

In her free time, when she isn’t balancing her BU and Cisco responsibilities, Dasher loves to run, kayak and picnic along the Charles River; her favorite spot in all of Boston. “To me, it’s just one of the best features of the city…[and] I don’t think I can be more than a few blocks from it,” joked Dasher. In fact, her favorite place to study or work on BU’s campus–The Ziskind Lounge in the GSU–overlooks the Charles River.

This fall semester, Professor Dasher teaches CM 701 (Contemporary Public Relations) via a hybrid system, and she just recently accepted the opportunity to teach CM 313 (Corporate Communication) in the Spring 2021 semester. 

Allie Silcoff, Staff Writer  

Allie is a Junior studying Media Science in The College  of Communication at Boston University. Hailing from  Toronto, Canada, in her free time Allie proudly  cheers for Toronto sports teams (Go Raptors and  Leafs!), despite rivalries with Boston. Writing has  always been an avenue Allie has leveraged to  channel her unique voice and share it with others. She looks forward to working as a Writer for The  COMmunicator this semester!

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