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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Back in the Classroom: Andrea Popa explores educational opportunities offered on campus

Photo: Annie Zhou
Andrea Popa, director of the Office of International Student Affairs, will be enrolled in a Strategic Marketing Communication (MA) class at Emerson College.

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English and Sociology from Eastern Nazarene College and a Master of Arts in Intercultural Relations from Lesley University, Andrea Popa didn’t want to stop her education there. 

This year, the Director of the Office of International Student Affairs enrolled in Creative Concepts & Storytelling, a class within the Marketing Communication program at Emerson, to improve her communication with international students and colleagues. 

“Knowing how to establish a brand, how to tell stories, how to communicate with folks, those are all important traits regardless of what you’re doing,” Popa said. 

For Popa, however, these skills are even more valuable. Working with the over 800 international students on campus, she and the Office of International Student Affairs assist students in navigating Visas, international travel, United States employment, and academic support. 

“With immigration, so much of what we do is explain complex concepts, and it’s great to be able to connect the process to help students tell their stories.” 

The class of 12 students meets in the evenings and “focuses on ‘the message’ in marketing communications, as both the distinctive idea conveyed in a campaign and the many forms in which it is expressed,” according to Emerson College Professional Studies

“From a communications point of view, there’ll be ideas about how to deliver content in a way that’s creative and engaging, looking for stickiness, looking for how to make complicated things more accessible to international students,” Popa said. 

Marketing and Communications Specialist Juan Vega Rios graduated from Emerson College in 2021 with a degree in Public Relations. Vega Rios is a Strategic Marketing and Communication graduate student enrolled in the same class. 

“Taking a class with a co-worker is interesting because you get to see their thought process,” Vega Rios said. 

Staff and faculty are offered the opportunity to enroll in classes through Emerson, which Popa “wanted to take advantage of.” 

“It gives me a chance to interact with professors and students in a different way, and to have some of the vocabulary that they’re learning, and to learn from both the students and the professor,” Popa said. “… Emerson is a leader in arts and communication, so I believe in the college itself and what we’re providing.” 

Upon taking this class, Popa is considering working toward a doctorate or a second master’s degree in the creative economy or creative industry.

Popa has served as the International Affairs Coordinator on campus since 2018. Prior to this, she worked for Boston University’s International Students and Scholars office for 16 years, spanning a career of 22 years. 

“I moved to Emerson because I was looking to make a more personal connection with international students,” Popa said. “I was hoping to get to know students more on a personal level and be able to support things outside of just the immigration paperwork.” 

Popa lived in Portugal for 12 years and also lived in Romania. Living abroad provided her with the “experience of being between cultures for a lot of years,” causing her to take an interest in international student affairs. 

“I hope the work we do here in this office is equity work,” Popa said. “It’s something where we’re working to minimize the barriers to education and to a successful experience by helping communicate clearly and helping to streamline the process for students.” 

As she continues the course, Popa hopes to apply what she learns from her graduate class to her role on campus. 

“The most rewarding part of my job is absolutely interacting with Emerson students,” Popa said. “Emerson students are such creative souls. Hearing both the stories of where they come from, but also watching them create paths of success in the creative industries in the U.S. is rewarding to see.”

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About the Contributor
Bridget Frawley, Staff Writer
Bridget Frawley (she/her) is a freshman journalism major from Jupiter, Florida. When she is not writing for the news section, she is a morning anchor for Mornings with George Knight on WERS 88.9 FM. She also loves reading, going on long walks, and thrifting.

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