Alumni in residence Chad Ghastin visits GVSU, shares knowledge and experience


Chad Ghastin with University President Thomas Haas

Giving a public speech, visiting classes, working with faculty, attending the Dean’s Alumni Luncheon, socializing with student organizations and cheering on GVSU at the football game, Alumni in Residence Chad Ghastin spent his visit to GVSU sharing his experiences, knowledge, and passion for the university.

Ghastin graduated from GVSU in 1998 with a degree in advertising and public relations. He is currently an independent consultant in New York City, focused on digital marketing and customer relationship management with companies including, and NBC News.

Professor Tim Penning said that throughout Ghastin’s visit, Ghastin shared valuable information from his career and from what he had learned in his time at GVSU.

“(Ghastin’s) interaction with students and him saying what he appreciated about the program at GVSU made our students realize ‘hey, this is a special place that you can gain a lot from,’” Penning said. “I think it made the students feel good about their choice to come here.”

In his public speech on Oct. 13 “Digital Communication: What Has Changed in 18 Years Since Graduation,” Ghastin told the audience about how technology, data and media have changed the entire communications field with traditional media companies being replaced by more technology based companies.  He encouraged students to be constantly learning to keep up with all of the changes.

“It used to be you were media, you were a journalist, you were a creative, or you were on the business side,” Ghastin said. “Now you throw in technology and all the data we have at our fingertips, both as marketers and consumers of the data we generate, it has just really changed all that.

“I think that’s a great thing and I think everything needs competition, everything needs to be constantly evolving.”

Despite the changes in technology Ghastin said it was important to view technology as tools that allow advertisers and public relations officials to be more targeted and deliver the right message to the right people at the right time.

“Really think about what we’re trying to do, which is communicate with human beings,” Ghastin said. “There’s a lot of technology, a lot of shiny objects, out there.  But technology isn’t a substitute for a great idea or something that evokes emotion in people.”

After the talk students were able to ask Ghastin questions about his career in New York City.  Penning said Ghastin made it seem more possible for these students to get internships there and start their own careers.

Ghastin was also able to visit a few classes and spend time giving students feedback on their projects.

“The presentations were very polished, and strategic,” Ghastin said. “For where they are in their careers and learning, I thought the critical thinking was impressive. The students really went beyond just talking about the surface level tactics of the campaign, but really thought about it strategically. So I was impressed.”

Ghastin credits GVSU with preparing him so well for his career.  He said the hands-on work he was asked to do in his classes combined with all the different types of communication he learned helped him to be prepared.

“If you wanted to grow and learn and expand and network (at GVSU), those opportunities are here, but you have to take advantage of that,” Ghastin said. “It was really all about the one-on-one relationships we built with the faculty and staff here. This is really what the launch pad is for achieving success long-term.”

Still incredibly spirited about GVSU, Ghastin tunes in to watch football games from New York City. In the last 10 years, he said he has only missed two games.  Ghastin said the football team and the coaches at GVSU embody what he admires most about the university.

“I think it goes back to the grit, about being scrappy, but also being of high character and high integrity,” Ghastin said. “If you look back at what those coaches do in their career, I think that embodies what I believe Grand Valley is about and that is being scrappy and having that grit. It’s going out and saying, I may be from a small school, it may be liberal arts, but I can get this done.”