Brandeis GPS Blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Month: May 2023 (page 1 of 2)

Course Spotlight: Internship in User-Centered Design

Blue, purple, and green art representing UX design process

Have you ever considered completing an internship while earning your master’s degree? For students in our User-Centered Design MS program, completing an internship as part of their degree is a great way to incorporate extra hands-on learning and industry experience into their master’s program. 

Can I earn course credit for my internship?

Yes! In the User-Centered Design MS, students may take RUCD 292 – Internship in User-Centered Design. This elective course allows students to complete an internship for course credit toward their master’s degree. Just like all GPS courses, the internship course is worth three (3) credits. Taught by Elizabeth Rosenzweig, a UX Design Researcher with decades of industry experience, the course enriches the internship experience as a whole by engaging students in purposeful reflection, helping them learn to take feedback, and giving them space to digest what they are learning on the job.

How can User-Centered Design students benefit from completing an internship?

Students who complete an internship can gain hands-on experience working alongside industry professionals. As an intern, you have the chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to real-world situations and experience different aspects of the industry – research or design, for example. Instructor Elizabeth Rosenzweig explained that many students who complete UX internships are put on a design team within the organization, and help to conduct research for a project that the team is currently working on. This allows the intern to gain skills that they can apply to future projects that they complete for their master’s program, as well as build their portfolio. These are also skills that are transferable to future roles.

What can I expect to learn from the internship course?

The internship course provides students with regular opportunities to debrief what they are learning in their internship. Not only that, the course proves to be a supportive community for students who are similarly balancing an internship experience. As students learn the ins and outs of the industry that they are studying, having a supportive network of faculty and peers to rely on while you work through this experience can be an invaluable resource.

“By adding an internship course to the degree where you get to do hands-on work and gain real-world skills, it provides the opportunity to come away with a much deeper experience,” Rosenzweig explains. 

Rosenzweig also emphasized the importance of the intentional reflection that the course encourages students to do as a valuable opportunity for students to learn and grow their skills. Completing an internship in combination with the internship elective (RUCD 292) supports students in realizing their strengths in UX and figuring out what they enjoy, says Rosenzweig. Having a real-world experience like an internship helps you get comfortable with applying what you have learned in the classroom before you graduate from your program, increasing your confidence and chances of success upon entering the workforce.

For more information on the User-Centered Design MS or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit

Featured Graduate: Danny Diep

Danny DiepDanny Diep, Embedded Software Engineer

Program: Robotic Software Engineering

Graduation: May 2023

One of the reasons I chose GPS was specifically for the Master’s Degree in Robotic Software Engineering. I was drawn to this degree because it is different from Computer Science while also allowing me to gain specialized skills. After graduation, I plan to stay at my current company and hope to get promoted to Principal Engineer. Having a master’s degree will allow me certain opportunities to move forward in my career.  

The best part of GPS was that, throughout my coursework, I had the opportunity to work on real-world projects and gain experience with industry-standard tools and technologies. This practical experience was invaluable in preparing me for a career in the rapidly growing field of robotics. I enjoyed the experience of building robots and programming them, and look forward to using them for future independent projects. 

Another highlight of the Brandeis GPS program was the supportive and dedicated faculty and staff. I always felt that I had access to expert guidance and support, whether it was through office hours, online discussions, or collaborative projects with other students. Class sizes were small, and everyone was extremely knowledgeable and had industry experience.  

Earning a master’s degree has helped me gain experience that will allow me to advance my career. I am glad that I chose to pursue a degree in robotics because it allowed for personal enrichment.

For more information on our programs, visit our website.

Brandeis Commencement 2023

The Rabb School of Continuing Studies honored 114 Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) graduates at the university-wide Graduate Commencement Ceremony on May 21, 2023.

At the Graduate Professional Studies Commencement Reception, Vice President of the Rabb School, Dr. Lynne Rosansky, addressed the graduates.

Rosansky highlighted that many of this year’s graduates began earning their degrees at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. “You are to be commended on your ability to see beyond the day-to-day challenges to the possibilities in front of you by taking on a course of graduate study,” she said.

She also recognized this year’s Student Marshal, Lauren Fox, MS ‘23, and Rabb School Award for Outstanding Teaching Recipient, Faculty member Meredith Fortney.

The student and faculty award winners both expressed gratitude for how Brandeis GPS allowed them to accomplish long-term goals – Fortney has been able to teach as a member of the faculty at Brandeis GPS, and Fox graduated with her master’s in Digital Marketing and Design.

Both Fortney and Fox shared lessons they learned from obstacles that they had to overcome. Whether it was experiencing imposter syndrome or learning to bounce back from rejection, they challenged themselves to persevere in the face of adversity, and eventually, they both found themselves at Brandeis.

As an instructor for the MS in Digital Marketing and Design, Fortney uses her experiences to influence her teaching. “I understand the nuanced experiences each student is coming to my courses with and I want to meet them where they are,” she explained. “Marketing, and teaching for that matter, isn’t a one size fits all solution; the magic is in the details.”

Rosanksy noted that the Rabb School Award for Outstanding Teaching “goes to an instructor who regularly incorporates active and engaging learning strategies in his or her courses, shows the dedication and ability to deliver meaningful subject matter to every class member, and demonstrates passion and enthusiasm for teaching and learning.”

Fortney has been nominated to receive the Award for Outstanding Teaching twice in her time at Brandeis. She attributes much of her success in her career to her passion for learning, and encouraged graduates to “lean into your curiosity.”

Student Marshal Lauren Fox was recognized as an involved student who is motivated to succeed and give back to her community. She shared a message of strength and optimism with her fellow graduates. “My hope for every graduate is for you to remember the support system you have here in Waltham and abroad when the job market throws curveballs, or imposter syndrome rears its ugly head. Remember how dedicated you were to finishing an advanced degree.”

In closing, Rosansky praised the graduates for their hard work. “Your academic achievements are made even more noteworthy because they were made in the midst of ‘real life.’ I want you to know that the entire University community has great respect for what you have accomplished and how you have done it.”

Diplomas were awarded in each program as follows:

  • MS in Bioinformatics (7 graduates)
  • MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech (2 graduates)
  • MS in Digital Marketing and Design (19 graduates)
  • MS in Health Informatics (6 graduates)
  • MS in Information Security Leadership (4 graduates)
  • MS in Learning Experience Design (7 graduates)
  • MS in Project & Program Management (10 graduates)
  • MS in Robotic Software Engineering (6 graduates)
  • MS in Software Engineering (6 graduates)
  • MS in Strategic Analytics (11 graduates)
  • MS in Technology Management (4 graduates)
  • MS in User-Centered Design (32 graduates)

The ceremony can be viewed online. Congratulations to our graduates!

Featured Graduate: Refaya Priya

Refaya PriyaRefaya Priya, Global Marketing Specialist, Intertek

Program: Digital Marketing and Design

Graduation: May 2023

My experience at Brandeis has been a game changer for me, both in my professional and personal life. Earning my MS in Digital Marketing and Design has helped me get to where I am now in many ways.

I earned my undergraduate from UMass Lowell, and I knew I wanted to earn my master’s. When I found the Digital Marketing and Design program at Brandeis GPS online, I was intrigued. The application process was simple, and the admissions team was supportive. I applied and was accepted, and I knew this was a huge accomplishment.

I began working as a Sales Coordinator at Intertek in November 2019. Even though I was new to marketing, I found myself engrossed in the world of digital marketing as a result of working with such an incredible team. The skills I gained in the Digital Marketing and Design MS at Brandeis have helped me advance within the company. I was later brought into projects for technical marketing, working alongside the web design and social media team, and I am now working with the Global Marketing team.

Refaya PriyaOutside of my full-time role, I’ve also been able to use the skills I gained in my program at Brandeis in my role at Tamrochura Dance School. The dance school is the only Bangladeshi dance school in Massachusetts. Using my experience from Intertek and Brandeis, I developed their website and marketing strategy. I have loved working with the community at this dance school and in the surrounding New England area.

The people I met during this journey have been incredible. I’ve learned so much about the industry and the challenges that exist, and I have been inspired to pursue a career that I’m truly passionate about and to never give up on my dreams. I would like to thank my professors, especially Meredith Fortney, Andrew Schall, Ross Morrone, and Laura Hindman.

I would also like to thank my Student Advisor, Nicole Russo, for supporting me and helping me realize my educational goals; I’m grateful to have had her as an advisor.

Earning my master’s degree is one of the most rewarding accomplishments of my life, bringing with it a sense of pride and personal fulfillment.

For more information on the MS in Digital Marketing and Design or any other GPS programs, visit our website.

Featured Graduate: Christopher Tran

Christopher TranChristopher Tran, Associate Scientist, Gritstone Bio

Program: Bioinformatics

Graduation: May 2023

Throughout my career, I have learned many different laboratory techniques, interpreted sample data, and scientific writing. I have always wanted to learn to program, but it was difficult to do on my own. When I found the Bioinformatics MS at Brandeis GPS, it seemed like a great fit. I chose Brandeis because they gave me the guidance, support, and opportunity to achieve my goals. The last two years at Brandeis was a great experience. It was encouraging to see how much support I had from my classmates and professors. Each professor has given me a new skill set that can be applied to my day-to-day work. The coursework is also very relevant to the professional work I do. I think Brandeis GPS team has done a great job in giving relevant material along in a challenging way to help the students learn and grow.   

In the Oncology field, I am trying to apply the bioinformatics skills I have gained in my day-to-day work. I am able to implement all my new bioinformatics knowledge in my career, whether using my programming skills to implement a better aggregation process or visually seeing the data better with graphs. With the help of each course at Brandeis, not only was I able to learn to program, but also to interpret data in an analytical way. The future right now for me is very unknown, but what I personally know is that Brandeis GPS has set me up for a better opportunity.

I think it is great that a small desire to learn a skill has turned into a major milestone in my life. I believe anyone can achieve this accomplishment with any help and support. I could not be more grateful for everyone in my life, especially for the Brandeis community and my support system (friends, coworkers, and family) for helping me with my accomplishment. I encourage everyone with small curiosities to apply and strive for their goals to make a bigger impact on their future.   

For more information on the MS in Bioinformatics or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit

Featured Graduate: Ruth Hackett

Ruth Hackett, Program Planner, University of Vermont

Program: Project and Program Management

Graduation: May 2023

After completing my undergraduate degree in business administration, I was initially confident my bachelor’s degree credentials were all I needed to get where I wanted to be professionally. When asked if I was considering a master’s degree, I said no without hesitation. However, my perspective quickly changed after entering the job market and realizing that continuing my education was essential to staying competitive and advancing professionally.

I chose the MS in Project and Program Management program at Brandeis GPS because the curriculum aligned perfectly with my interests. While I enjoyed the courses I took for my undergraduate degree, I struggled with courses like accounting, finance, and economics.  The MS in Project and Program Management curriculum offered courses that allowed me to elevate my strengths and pursue topics I enjoyed.  It was the ideal mix of applied and practical skills along with soft skills that are critical to being a successful team player, project manager, and leader. 

In the Project Scheduling and Cost Management course, I was assigned a project that required me to build a work breakdown structure for an upcoming event in Smartsheet, following specific budget, schedule, and scope parameters. Smartsheet was a new tool for me, but the assignment gave students the flexibility to approach the project differently and come to unique solutions. It also provided me with hands-on experience in a project management tool that is widely used throughout the industry. I connected with other students in the course online and regularly met with them to discuss our approaches and understanding of the tool, which helped deepen my understanding of project scheduling, Smartsheet, and my relationships with classmates which carried through other courses. 

When interviewing for my current role as a program planner with the University of Vermont, I was asked to present my approach to a project scenario that was relevant to the position. When reviewing the scenario, I knew exactly how I wanted to organize my presentation. I immediately drew on my skills from the project scheduling course, broke the tasks down in Smartsheet, and gave a formal presentation during my interview.  Since I had completed eight of the 10 courses in Brandeis’ Project and Program Management program, I had a strong foundation in project management. With the necessary skills and tools, the initial steps and organization were obvious to me. I was able to clearly articulate my project management approach, and I got the job!

Now that I have been working in my current position for over a year, I find myself using the skills I gained from my master’s education every day, whether it is from understanding team dynamics and motivating others to leaderships skills and scheduling projects within a realistic budget, scope, and schedule. I am confident in my decisions and the skills I bring to my team, which has been a huge asset for me in both my professional and personal life.

For more information on the MS in Project and Program Management or any other GPS programs, visit our website.

Featured Graduate: Sebastien Chery

Sebastien Chery

Program: User-Centered Design

Graduation: May 2023

During my final semesters of undergrad, I knew that I wanted to pursue a graduate professional degree that would prepare me for the career I desired. After careful consideration, I decided to enroll in the User-Centered Design program offered by Brandeis GPS. I was drawn to this program because of Brandeis’ reputation and because it offered a comprehensive curriculum that aligned with my career goals.

Throughout my time in the program, I focused on preparing for life after graduation. As a student, I built connections and accessed UX internships that helped me expand my network and gain valuable experience. I have used these connections and skills to secure a position in the field of UX and will continue to grow as a professional.

One of the highlights of my GPS experience was collaborating with classmates who came from diverse professional backgrounds. Working with musicians, architects, psychologists, and much more, gave me a unique perspective on how different disciplines approach UX. I learned how to incorporate these perspectives into my own work, and I gained a deeper appreciation for the value of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Earning my master’s degree in User-Centered Design means a great deal to me. It represents the culmination of my academic journey and fulfills my goal of completing my overall education in design. I feel confident that the knowledge and skills I gained in the program have prepared me to succeed in the field of UX and to make meaningful contributions to the industry.

Overall, I am grateful for the opportunities, experiences, and connections that the User-Centered Design program provided me. I am excited to take the next steps in my career and to continue learning and growing as a professional in the field of UX.

For more information on the User-Centered Design MS or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit

2023 Rabb School of Continuing Studies Award for Outstanding Teaching presented to Meredith Fortney

Written by Meredith Fortney

I owe my love of learning and teaching to my mother; she was an educator her whole career and taught me that teaching is one way to have a positive and lasting impact on others. I have carried this philosophy with me throughout my life and career, hoping to help others both personally and professionally. Marketing was my minor in college (I thought I wanted to be a TV news reporter, but things changed), and it made an impression on me as a space where anything could happen. Once I graduated from Auburn University, I joined a small, boutique marketing agency in Atlanta, GA where I dove headfirst into campaigns, reporting, optimization, and learning all I could about my clients.

I believe that my hunger for learning has been the single most active driving force in my career. I seek challenges when I am no longer learning or able to grow at a company or within a role. I challenged myself and successfully earned my MBA while working full-time. I have always loved school, but also knew having advanced business knowledge would help me progress in my career, and allow me the opportunity to mentor others who were looking to grow in their professions. While in my online MBA program, I had the opportunity to attend a few in-person speaking engagements, where I learned there was a path to online teaching for me once I had graduated. I knew this was the opportunity I was looking for to continue my quest for learning and sharing, so I began applying to different adjunct positions immediately upon earning my degree. I was lucky to land at Brandeis over seven years ago, and being an instructor here has provided me the opportunity to pass on the wisdom, experience, and perspectives of my nearly 20-year career with others who are interested in the world of marketing. 

I believe teaching also makes me a better people leader at work, and I use the skills I have learned in the academic space to aid my teams’ career development and progress. Nothing makes me happier or more fulfilled than seeing others reach their potential or achieve their goals through learning and development, from my students to my team members. I hope my passion for learning and knowledge sharing has inspired others to go out and do the same for their communities because the more we learn and share, the bigger impact we will have overall. The Graduate Professionals Studies program is a wonderful place for senior career experts to have a tangible impact on students, and hopefully, some of my students will be here teaching in my place in the future. 

Meredith Fortney, Digital Marketing and Design Faculty at GPS, is the Director of Talent Acquisition Programs at FanDuel where she leads the Talent Marketing, Employer Branding, and Early Careers teams. Throughout her tenure as a marketing and branding expert, she’s led teams at Kirkland’s, Cummins, Asurion, and most recently HelloFresh. Meredith has been teaching for The Rabb School for seven years and was recently appointed to the Advisory Board representing the Digital Marketing and Design program.

Meredith lives in New York City with her wife Alex, and three dogs Cooper, Huck, & Eros. When she’s not working and/or teaching, she loves to read, learn about wine, watch documentaries, and she never misses a day of Wordle.

For more information on the MS in Digital Marketing and Design or any other GPS programs, visit our website.

AAPI Heritage Month Spotlight

Headshot of Yusing Tsou

Yusing Tsou, Digital Marketing and Design ’23

The month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

In an effort to celebrate the AAPI community at GPS, we wanted to highlight Yusing Tsou, a full-time student in the Digital Marketing and Design Program at Brandeis GPS.

We were grateful for the opportunity to talk to Yusing about her heritage, and are excited to share her interview below.

Interview with Yusing Tsou

How do you identify within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community?

I identify as Chinese-Japanese American.

Who is an AAPI figure that you especially look up to?

I admire Anna May Wong, a pioneer in American film and the first Chinese American movie star. To me, Wong is an inspiration for courage.

What is a piece of advice you would give to AAPI identifying students at Brandeis GPS?

Everyone has their own story, and this month I invite you to explore what it means to be you. I also encourage you to be open to the possibility that your narrative might change with time.

What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?

In my family, education is very important. My parents grew up in post-World War II Asia, and the wisdom they passed down to me roughly translates to: people can take away your beauty, loved ones, and possessions, but no one can take away your education and knowledge.

With this in mind, during AAPI Heritage Month, my tradition is to revisit what it means to be me and reflect on where I want my education to take me in life.

To learn more about Yusing and her time at GPS, read her Student Spotlight on the GPS blog.

Student Spotlight: Yusing Tsou

Meet Yusing Tsou ’23

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Full-time Student

MS in Digital Marketing and Design

In her spare time, Yusing likes to attend live rock shows, reverse engineer recipes, and volunteer for various non-profits throughout the year.

Get to know Yusing!

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS? 

Brandeis GPS was the right choice for me — as an American living abroad, my MS needs to be globally recognized. Brandeis University has an excellent reputation in the United States and abroad, plus the Digital Marketing program is ranked highly. 

What inspired you to choose your field of study? (How did you discover the field? What motivated you to pursue further education?)

​​I was invited to work on a boutique law firm’s website, blog, and social media channels. This opportunity helped me realize that I have a knack for digital marketing. Specifically, I found analytics fascinating. I discovered a whole world of data behind the interface and wanted to explore more.

 How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far?

Something that I appreciate about Brandeis is that each instructor will give students the tools necessary to succeed, regardless of their past experience with digital marketing. It is then on the student to determine the quality of education they experience.

For example, my first class was intimidating — it felt like all my classmates were experts, and here I was with (what felt like) no real experience. I persevered by taking advantage of all the class tools provided and reading all the resources suggested by the instructor to fill-in my knowledge gap. As I have taken more Brandeis classes, my foundation of knowledge has built over time into a solid understanding of digital marketing best practices. 

Additionally, I enjoy connecting with my classmates. I have made a few dear friendships at Brandeis GPS, and we have supported each other in completing the program.

What has been your favorite class to-date? Why?

I do not have a favorite class because all of my classes have been equally helpful in developing my career. I have enjoyed learning from a few key faculty members: Meredith Fortney, Ross Morrone, Garrett Gillin, David Lumerman, Mary Caraccioli, Edward Gazarian, and Sarah McMaster.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis? 

I am in my last session before completing the MS program, and I hope to finish strong.

What are your plans for after graduation?

As the global economy recovers from COVID, I plan on keeping an open mind about job opportunities. 

What advice would you give to incoming students?

  1. Get familiar with your syllabus;
  2. Learn keyboard shortcuts; and
  3. Get comfortable with ambiguity.

For more information on the MS in Digital Marketing and Design or any other GPS programs, visit our website.


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