Student Profile

  • Rebecca Dedo

    In her stellar advertising career Rebecca Dedo has encountered intriguing characters like the Keebler Elves and Orville Redenbacher. But Dedo is even more intrigued by the consumers who react to the brands: “The best part of my job is trying to understand human behavior. I’m fascinated by it,” says Dedo, who is global vice president at Energy BBDO in Chicago and was previously at Leo Burnett. Dedo’s other interests include history, sociology, and literature — and she wanted to explore all of these areas at once in graduate school. She was able to do just that in Northwestern’s Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program. Says Dedo: “I didn’t have to limit myself to a narrow area.”

    Dedo’s ties to Northwestern began when her father, a graduate of the medical school, met her mother during his residency. Her older sister headed to Northwestern for college, and Dedo followed, completing a double major in history and English with a minor in integrated arts in 1998. Dedo says that in the MALS program, “I took my undergraduate work and just kept going with it — with 10 years of real life and work experience.” As a graduate student she studied with some of her favorite professors from her undergraduate years, including urban historian Henry Binford, her thesis adviser. Dedo’s thesis explored how corporate social responsibility relates to the urban poor — “a perfect bridge between my work world and my academic world.”

    A self-described “Type A uber-organizer,” Dedo managed to complete the program in three years while working full time, often with a grueling travel schedule, and competing in triathlons. “My professors were as flexible as they could be in a master’s level program,” says Dedo, adding that what she learned from classmates was equally important. “We were of different ages and educational backgrounds, and we had different reasons for being in the program,” says Dedo. “At work that has reinforced the need to listen to other perspectives and incorporate other ideas to balance my own.”