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Pictured is Emma Federkeil. Photo | Randall Coleman

Meet Emma Federkeil '20 '24

Job Title & Employer
Director of Communications, Allegheny County District Attorney's Office
Broadcast Production, Public Relations, Advertising & Social Media-M.A.
Saxonburg, Pa.
High School
Knoch High School
Now Living In
Pittsburgh, Pa.

"Point Park’s most valuable asset is its faculty and their ability to connect students with real-world, professional-level experience. Point Park does a great job of showing all of the different possibilities that you can achieve with a degree."

Emma Federkeil '20 '24

How did your undergraduate experience at Point Park University prepare you for your career?

I was held to a highly professional standard of work as an undergraduate student. Part-time instructor Gina Catanzarite was the single most influential professor I had as an undergrad. I admired her precise attention to detail and her passion to encourage students to do their best. She challenged me in all aspects of the creative process, making me a well-rounded creator.

Additionally, Andrew Conte, director of Point Park's Center for Media Innovation, was instrumental in setting me up for success. Even though I wasn't one of his students, he offered me so many freelance video and photo projects. Working with him allowed me to grow my professional network. I cannot thank him enough for trusting me and my creative abilities and really helping my career from the very beginning. The knowledge I gained from those real-world experiences is not something I could have learned in a classroom, which really made me stand out among my peers.

Why did you choose to return to Point Park to pursue an M.A. in Public Relations, Advertising and Social Media?

The COVID-19 pandemic brought my senior semester to an abrupt halt. After graduation, I spent over a year applying to jobs and doing virtual interviews, only to be ghosted by companies who were either cutting creative positions or looking to hire someone with more social media experience.

Every job that I interviewed for wanted a candidate who could not only shoot, edit and produce video, but they wanted someone who could manage it on social media as well. I was more than confident in my creative abilities. However, during undergrad, I only took one social media class and I didn’t have any experience outside of my personal use of social media. I felt hopeless, honestly.

At the time I decided to pursue a graduate degree, I was working at a place with flexible hours. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go back if it was going to help me in the long run.

The reason I chose PR, advertising and social media was because of all of the media visits Helen Fallon took us on during the International Media class trips. Visiting advertising agencies was always my favorite because I got the sense that they prioritized creativity.

Another reason why I chose this program was because I value my independence and like to do everything myself. I took the fact that the companies I was applying to weren’t hiring someone with my skillset as a challenge — a challenge that I already overcame with my current job, and look at me now.

Which faculty and staff members have had a significant impact on you?

In addition to Gina Catanzarite and Andrew Conte, Helen Fallon showed me how awesome traveling the world is as part of the School of Communication's International Media class trips. She stressed how important it is to get out of your comfort zone because you’ll never grow if you stay in the same place.

I don’t think it’s possible to put into words how much Heather Starr Fiedler has impacted me. I look up to her, and I couldn’t have continued my master’s degree without her support. I’m so inspired by her commitment to making the world a better place, and all at the same time being a boss of a woman, wife and mother. When I reach that point in my career, I can only hope that I can influence the younger generations in half of the way she’s influenced so many students.

Lastly, Nicole Chynoweth '13, content manager for the University's marketing department and fellow graduate student, has supported me as a classmate and a best friend. 

What does your role as Director of Communications for the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office entail?

I handle all aspects of communication for the office. Day-to-day, I deal with media relations, writing press releases, content creation and managing the website and Facebook page. I also plan and set up special events, like press briefings, and create visual presentations for District Attorney Stephen Zappala. My favorite part of the job is having the creative freedom for photos, video and graphic design projects.

What advice do you have for a student considering Point Park?

Point Park’s most valuable asset is its faculty and their ability to connect students with real-world, professional-level experience. Point Park does a great job of showing all of the different possibilities that you can achieve with a degree. During undergrad, I was able to sort out what work environments I liked and ones I didn’t because I tried so many different things.

Video: M.A. Student Experience

More About: Knoch High School, broadcast reporting, graduate programs, M.A. in public relations, advertising and social media, School of Communication