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Student Spotlight: Joshua Oliver

Student Spotlight: Joshua Oliver

Written by Laura Gamo, MS Student in the School of Advertising & Public Relations

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and about your experience this summer. Laura Gamo, Tristiny Bell, and Joshua Oliver

I am a senior here at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, originally from Memphis, TN. I am majoring in Advertising with a double minor in. Business Administration and Psychology. I hold various leadership positions across campus, and at the core of those organizations, I have an opportunity to advocate for and create inclusive environments for conversations about difference and diversity. Whether that is facilitating workshops   as a Diversity Educator or planning events for the Black Student Union, I can utilize my passion for diversity and inclusion to serve these organizations and the surrounding community.

I saw the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program, or MAIP, as an opportunity to continue this work, specifically within the ad industry. From the.  second I learned more about advertising, early in my college career, I fell in love with this industry. When I was selected as a MAIP 2017 Fellow, I was honored and ready for the challenge. I had the privilege of working for TBWA\WorldHealth where I worked as an account manager, helping to launch a new pharmaceutical biosimilar injectable. I did not have much of a background in healthcare, but I did have a deep understanding of how to bring people together. I made sure to channel my passion for inclusive collaboration to learn the full scope of an account manager’s function in the agency setting and ideate around ways to communicate patient’s experiences to health care professionals.

 

Q: What was the highlight of your experience this summer?

The highlight of my summer experience was definitely all of the people I met and the new relationships I made. Being a part of a network of people who value representation and diversity and are pushing the boundaries around the normal makeup of the industry is inspiring! I was empowered to be bold and daring, to be completely myself, when I saw people in the same career and on the same path doing just that! With such courageous examples to follow, I could focus on the work, make plans for launching my career, and show how dedicated I am to advertising as a discipline, a career, and a personal passion of mine.

 Q: What agency, workshop or other professional experience stood out to you?

The 2017 MAIP Fellows and I had the opportunity to sit through a panel discussion at R/GA where I heard Vice President of Content and Partnerships Jessica Greenwood share about how she fell into Strategy as a discipline, and talked about what makes good strategy. I cannot recall verbatim what she said; however, Jess alluded to the fact that a strategist’s role is to find human truths that represent the people we want to reach in order to tell their story.

Listening to her speak, gave me a greater sense of purpose to strive to guide and elevate the flow of humanity in everything I do and in every project or campaign I am a part of. When Jess spoke about this truth-telling and ability to take human experiences about brands and products and tell those stories, I saw my purpose come alive in her words. That moment reiterated a personal truth— that advertising was meant for me.

 Q: What first made you interested in advertising?

When I was leaving high school and headed for college, I did not know what I wanted to do. I told a teacher who was trying to help me decide on a major that the only thing I liked about school was presenting things. So she encouraged me to take classes in marketing, but when I did, I hated it. I went back to her, hoping she would have some new advice and she encouraged me to major in advertising when I got to college. So, I did, and on the first day of Advertising Principles with Dr. Eric Haley, he described the roles and positions that an advertising agency is comprised of. In that moment, I saw everything I had ever wanted to be growing up being used in an ad agency, and after getting chills and tearing up a bit, I left class that day knowing I had just found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life!

Q: What was the biggest challenge you had to conquer that helped shape your path?

The biggest challenge I have conquered so far is showing up to spaces and being completely present and certain in my identity, skill, and potential. I have faced so much adversity along the way, but the biggest challenge is when the shame, worry, or concern from that adversity blocks you from being present and grabbing a hold of your dreams. When I put those things to rest and truly embraced my identity, skills, and potential I was able to walk with my head high and face challenges like moving to NYC for two months and offering ideas during brainstorming sessions at my agency, or pitching in front of agency executives.

 Q: What, in your opinion, is the best and the worst thing about our industry?

The best thing about the advertising industry to me is the privilege to carry human truth in our hands, hearts, decisions, strategy, and creative executions. And having the privilege to do all of this on behalf of clients who are coming up with innovative things that embrace, elevate and attach to a person’s identity daily. The worst part about our industry is that we often rush the process of uncovering, developing and using these human truths to meet deadlines or launch accounts or win new business. This often leads to getting the story wrong and dropping the ball when we attempt to share the experiences of our consumers. More diversity in the industry, in agencies, in brainstorming rooms, and in front of clients is one important way to right the wrongs of the ad industry. 

Q: Do you have any plans on returning to New York soon?

I do! I actually just came back from an all-expense-paid trip to New York City a few weeks ago. Airbnb and Vice recently partnered to host custom-made tour experiences in different locations around the world. The two companies chose 100 participants to on an adventure, and I was one of 30 people chosen to take a deep dive into the Big Apple and learn about the history of vogue in Harlem! The tour was led by dancer, visual artist, advocate for people living with HIV, and now friend, Kia LaBeijad from the House of LaBeija. Kia volunteered her time to lead a historic walking tour through Harlem, a voguing master class, and a night on the town. I left this experience reenergized, compelled and inspired to be intentional about showing up to spaces, embracing my full identity, walking in my truth, and hopefully inspiring others to do the same thing. I cannot wait to go back!

I plan on going on the New York trip with the School, led by Dr. Haley, in January and again this summer if I am chosen to be a MAIP 2018 Fellow (fingers crossed). NYC has always been a place I have had my eyes set on, so honestly, I feel that whenever I am not there I am planning on returning!

 

ADPR Sweeps College-Wide Awards

ADPR Sweeps College-Wide Awards

 Written by Laura Gamo, MS Student in the School of Advertising & Public Relations

Beth Foster, Courtney Childers, Candace White On Friday, October 13, 2017, the University of Tennessee’s College of Communication and Information held the 2017 CCI Awards and Scholarship Donor Appreciation Banquet.

 Each year, the banquet recognizes accomplished faculty and alumni of the College and celebrates current students who have earned scholarships provided by our friends and donors. This past year, several    students from the School were awarded scholarships to fund their studies, internships, and other co-curricular and professional development activities.

This year’s Advertising Alumna of the Year, Erin Hauck, is a 2007 graduate. She is currently senior director of digital investment for Hearts & Science in New York City. This is not the first time Hauck has been recognized for her work as a mentor in the growing field of Digital and for her dedication to obtaining, developing and retaining talent, as well as spearheading projects that enable knowledge sharing on both a local and global scale (including her participation in the first ever OMD global exchange program).

Public Relations Alumna of the Year Kellie Davie, is a 2011 graduate, and founder and managing partner of KeyCom PR in Nashville. Davie started KeyCom PR with a vision to provide local businesses with the same high-level communications knowledge and execution that she had performed in my corporate positions, but at a price that is obtainable, while educating them on what a strong return on investment public relations can represent for their business.

Faculty members from the School of Advertising and Public Relations were also recognized, claiming three of the six faculty awards that evening.

Associate Professor of Public Relations and former Co-Director of the Risk, Health, and Crisis Communication Organized Research Unit at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Beth Foster was given the Top Faculty Research Award. Avery has published more than 35 articles in peer-reviewed academic journals and presented 50 pieces of original research at national and international academic conferences. Her research unit received $156,000 in funding from the University of Tennessee Office of Research, and prior to joining the faculty at the University of Tennessee, Foster completed a postdoctoral assistantship on a $3.5 million CDC grant.

Professor of Public Relations and former recipient of UT’s Angie Warren Award for Outstanding Promise of Scholarship, Teaching and Contribution of Intellectual Life Dr. Candace White was given the Top Faculty Service/Outreach Award. White’s expansive service record is impressive: executive council member of the UT Faculty Senate, member of the Search Committee for the Vice Chancellor for Communication, Chair of the CCI Graduate Committee, and having served on 16 doctoral committees and more than 100 master’s committees— among many, many others.

Lastly, Associate Professor of Advertising and Executive Director of the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center (ABSMCC) Dr. Courtney Childers was given the Top Faculty Innovative Teaching Award. Housed in CCI, the ABSMCC provides access to the same leading technology that Fortune 100 companies use to publish, engage and analyze their social media marketing activities, and allows faculty, staff and students to collaborate, prepare and present social listening findings and insights. Childers also serves as Chair of UT Social Media Week, a week-long special event where well-known speakers and panelists travel from Dell, Facebook, Nike, Salesforce, UT Athletics, Buzzfeed, CNN, Scripps Networks, and others, share their social media expertise.

The evening concluded as the College's highest alumni honor—the Donald G. Hileman Alumni Award—was presented to Dr. Martha Rogers. Rogers received her doctorate from the college in 1983 and is now a best-selling author and founder of Trustability Metrix.

“The impact Martha Rogers has had on how businesses interact with their customers has been profound,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “The strategic insights, creativity and academic rigor she brings puts her at the forefront of the world’s leading customer experience experts.”

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Located in the College of Communication and Information, the School of Advertising and Public Relations houses two of the most popular majors at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. The programs are nationally and internationally recognized for the quality of their scholarship and instruction. Our program offers opportunities beyond the classroom that involve professional internships, study abroad, and school sponsored trips to network with industry leaders. With its nationally recognized educators and wide-ranging opportunities, the School of Advertising and Public Relations continues to be a program of excellence at The University of Tennessee, preparing students to become innovative leaders in their respective fields.

 

ADPR Alum Wins, Top Teaching Paper at AEJMC

Karen FreeburgMeet School of Advertising and Public Relations Alum: Karen Freberg, Ph.D.

Written by Kyungji Lee, MS Student in the School of Advertising & Public Relations

Karen Freberg graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 2011 with a Ph.D. in Public Relations. Karen is internationally recognized expert in social media. Chris Strub, the editor of Digital storytelling and mobile live streaming video in Medium, named Dr. Freberg as one of the “100 micro-micro influencers”. Her websites (www.karenfreberg.com, karenfreberg.com/blog) and communication channels are popular content sites.

Dr. Freberg has had an amazing year in 2017!

First, Karen became a tenured Associate Professor of Strategic Communication at the University of Louisville. Karen teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in social media, public relations, crisis communication, and emerging technologies.

Second, Karen’s research has won national awards. Her paper entitled, “Developing a Blueprint for Social Media Pedagogy: Trials, Tribulations, and Best Practices” won 2nd place in the Top Teaching Papers at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Annual Conference in Chicago. Her research was also recognized as the top downloaded article for Journal of Public Relations Education.

Third, Dr. Freberg has been elected the Chair of Public Relations Division at the National Communication Association. Karen takes on this leadership role beginning in November 2017. Karen will lead a 400-person division dedicated to public relations research.

Additionally, all faculty, staff, and graduate teaching assistants in University of Louisville nominated Dr. Freberg to the “faculty favorite for 2016-2017” for her positive impact as a professor, a mentor, and an advisor.

Dr. Palenchar, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Communication and Information at UT has said: "Karen was an excellent graduate student and is an even better associate professor. She represents our college and the School of Advertising and Public Relations very well in her research productivity, presentations at national and international conferences, and all the service she does for our discipline."

Congratulations School of Advertising and Public Relations alum, Karen Freberg, Ph.D., for an outstanding 2017! Looking forward to even more awards in 2018!          

ABSMCC Featured in TN Today

Adam Brown Social Media Command Center

 Dr. Courtney Childers, Advertising professor and the Executive Director of the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center (ABSMCC) was featured in Tennessee Today. See the story here.

For more information on the Social Media Command Center, please visit http://utccismcc.utk.edu/.

 

ADPR Welcomes Laura Mansfield

Laura MansfieldThe School of Advertising & Public Relations welcomes Laura Mansfield to its teaching faculty. Laura will serve as Lecturer for the 2017-2018 teaching Social Media (PBRL / ADVT 461 & 561), Public Relations Writing (PBRL 320) and Public Relations Advanced Writing (PBRL 420).

Laura Mansfield has an MBA in Finance from the University of Tennessee (1992). She comes to ADPR after an award winning professional career at a number of firms including EVP at Fletcher Marketing PR and EVP and senior VP of public relations and social media at The Tombras Group. She has also taught as a part-time lecturer/adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee and at Pellissippi State Community College. Laura is an expert in message development, content strategy, social media, integrated communications and influencer marketing. She is teaching courses focused on public relations writing and social media.

Dr. Mariea Hoy Named Deforrest Jackson Professor

Mariea Hoy FTCMariea Hoy, a professor in the School of Advertising and Public Relations, is the inaugural recipient of the DeForrest Jackson Professorship.

The school’s first named professorship, the DeForrest Jackson Professorship was created earlier this year with a $500,000 gift from Suzanne Sackleh Masters of Atlanta, who received her bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations in 1989. Masters made the gift in honor of her favorite professor, DeForrest Jackson.

Jackson came to UT after retiring as communications director for Coca-Cola in Atlanta. He earned his master’s degree in communications from UT and went on to serve as an associate professor of advertising until he retired in 1996. He died in 2013.

See more of the story here.

ADPR Students Visit Disney's Yellow Shoes

Disney Yellow ShoesLast month advertising students with the School of Advertising & Public Relations visited Disney for a behind-the-scenes look with the Disney Youth Education Series. Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group is the in-house advertising agency for Disney Destinations, which encompasses Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, and Adventures by Disney. The agency consists of a diverse and talented cast of writers, designers, artists, media buyers, and planners, specializing in all forms of marketing communications and media.

When asked about the trip Kendall Thompson had this to say, "There were so many amazing moments on this trip, from wandering through the parks to take a behind-the-scenes look at Yellow Shoes, that it's hard for me to pick a favorite! Meeting with some of the creatives that support the Disney brand and getting to pick their brains was definitely a highlight. Taking a peek into the ad archives was really cool, too! I doubt I would get to do that on any other Disney trip. At Yellow Shoes, we learned how the agency functions with the larger Disney company. We also go to talk to a few of the interns about their journey. I found their advice about traversing the application process to be helpful."

Disney Youth Education Series is a series of educational workshop geared toward university students to assist in their professional development. Participants are exposed to and take part in the strategies and techniques used by Leaders at Walt Disney World in creating lasting memories for their guests. Participants in these programs are able to expand their knowledge skills through engaging challenges, observations and interactions with Cast Members and Leaders of Walt Disney World. Programs cover such topics as creative development, techniques of teamwork, leadership strategies, and corporate culture.

The tour of Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group provided an opportunity for students to learn and experience what it is like to be part of one of the most admired companies in the world. Provided with an insider’s view from one of the agency’s leading creative directors, the students were treated to a comprehensive review of the roles of various members of the organization, the creation and development of certain projects that the agency had been tasked with, and an opportunity to listen and speak with current interns regarding career development in the field of advertising.

Content provided by Courtney Childers, Eric Haley, and Andrew Anglin.

Shining Student Phoebe Spooner Graduates

 Senior Advertising student Phoebe Spooner is set to graduate in just a couple of days.

Phoebe is set to work for the local company DesignSensory here in Knoxville. When asked about it here is what Phoebe had to say: Alumna Phoebe Spooner

Q: Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in Knoxville, so when I found out that UT had one of the top advertising programs in the country, I knew I was going to be a Volunteer. I hurried through my gen-ed courses at Pellissippi State, and transferred halfway through my sophomore year.

Q: What are some things that have helped you get to where you are?

I owe every bit of my progress to a circle of mentors who have supported me along the way. I have some amazing professionals in the advertising community that have been providing advice and making connections for me wherever possible. But most importantly, they have been cheering me on.

Q: What are the biggest challenges that you have had to conquer?

My biggest challenge was not getting overwhelmed.  I have held internships and part-time jobs every semester since I transferred. There were some days where I would work late at my part time job, get up early for class, leave at noon to work an internship, then go back to campus for Ad Club. It was mentally and physically draining, but I see now that it was entirely worth it.

Q: What are you doing after graduation?

I’m very pleased to be continuing on with Designsensory in Knoxville. I had the privilege of interning on the strategic team last August. Then I became marketing coordinator. After graduation, I’ll be full-time with the strategy and marketing team. Designsensory has become a second home for me in the past eight months, so it will be a smooth transition. I can’t wait to hit the ground running this month!

Q: What are you most excited about in your new position?

The people I work with, the amazing prospects I get to research for, the intricate brand stories, the really bold and nontraditional ideas we come up with that blow away consumers… It’s everything. I’ve been intentional and persistent to get to this point, because I knew since day one that Designsensory is where I want to be.

 

Inside Study Abroad - Australia

Hunter McClure in AustraliaAdvertising student and recipient of the Conaway Andervertising Scholarship, Hunter McClure is studying abroad this semester in Australia. Hunter along with other College of Communication & Information students are participating in a semester-long experience spear-headed by Dr. Sam Swan. While there Hunter and his classmates are studying at the University of Sydney.


"Studying abroad this semester in Sydney, Australia, has changed my life. You go into it thinking that it's going to be a giant vacation, but in reality you are adapting and becoming part of the culture. It is honestly better than a vacation because you get the full experience and truly feel like you are a local. I find myself speaking with the lingo and helping people who are lost on the street. I especially have become keen on the laid-back lifestyle that the Aussies have. The environment is so unique and inviting that everyone should experience it." -Hunter McClure

 

Sydney Australia"This experience has been crazy, and I still find myself doing new things each day. I have fed wild kangaroos, held a koala, seen a show at the famous Sydney Opera House, learned to surf at Surf Camp, scuba dived in the Great Barrier Reef, studied diligently at the University of Sydney, and interned at Benojo. Australia is a place you can never get bored. It is filled with opportunity and adventure everywhere you look.
 My time here is quickly coming to an end, but I already plan to come back some day. The atmosphere is infectious and the lifestyle is so welcoming that you never want to leave. For now I am going to enjoy and savor my next few weeks and continue to do as much as I can! Everyone should check into studying abroad. The applications are easy and there are so many scholarships available to help you out. Never look back on your life and say "what if?"

Tristiny Bell and ADPR Students Visit New York Agencies

Tristiny BellFor 24 years, students in the School of Advertising and Public Relations have journeyed to the Big Apple for one week during the month of January. This affordable trip sponsored by the UT Ad Club changes the lives of many students by exposing them to the dynamics of agency life in the advertising capital of the world. Led by two faculty members students get the opportunity to network with UT advertising alumni in NYC and spend three full days touring advertising agencies and media companies, while meeting with potential employers. From this trip a large number of students are successfully placed in paid internships in top agencies during the summer term. Outstanding UT advertising alumni work (and thrive) at agencies such as Young & Rubicam,  Ogilvy & Mather, BBDO, Publicis, and Hearts & Sciences to name a few. 

 Advertising major, Tristiny Bell joined us on the trip this year. Here is her story: 
 
The Big Apple –the perfect home for a motivated southern girl with hungry ambitions. Traveling to New York City has always been a dream of mine. Even as a little girl, I knew my talents and ambition would lead me to such an amazing city. The city where all your dreams could come true. All thanks to UT’s Ad Club for organizing such an incredible opportunity to fulfill my dreams. You know how sometimes when you watch something on TV, then you see it in real life and it’s not even close to the same on TV. Not New York City. It’s exactly like what you see on TV, which was refreshingly surprising. The scenery was exactly how I imaged. NYC is literally a mile wide and 15 miles high! Everyone is either 30 floors up or underground.

Our journey began with taking taxis from La Guardia to the hotel which by the way was fifty dollars. That single factor actually made me appreciate my car a lot more once I returned to Knoxville. Our Hotel was located in Lower Manhattan—2 blocks away from Times Square. Our first day was a free day to explore the city. As we traveled the subways and streets, there wasn’t a single person speaking the same language. The culture there is completely diverse. In some places, we were the only ones speaking English. Now I understand how important knowing a second or third language is, especially when you are preparing to enter into a global market such as advertising.

 Our sole purpose of the UT Ad Club NY trip was for professional development which included traveling to some prestigious advertising agencies in NY. At each agency, we were greeted by alumni from the University of Tennessee’s School of Ad/PR. Our first agency to visit was Y&R (Young & Rubicam). Their energy was amazing! Workers from each discipline of the adverting agency would describe their transition from the south, a day-to-day at work, and recent projects they have worked on. The aspect of this agency that stood out the most was there desire to answer every single question we had and go into as much detail as they could. I admired their honesty and family oriented culture. We read about how an agency is setup, corporate culture, campaigns, new business pitches etc, but to actually see everything you read about is thrilling. It makes me even more excited to jump into the Advertising world.

Another agency that stood out to me was BBDO. They are the only Ad Agency left on Madison Ave, which is where all of the agencies were until the rest relocated. Their motto is to create ads that can’t be ignored. Be bold! They’re not afraid to stand out. My entire life has been based on those beliefs of embracing the ideas that are different, challenging my creativity, and being the one to stand out to make a difference. In addition to their similar beliefs, the culture at BBDO is phenomenal. It’s heartwarming to see people in a career that love coming to a place where they are all connected in every aspect.

We also visited Ogilvy & Mather, Publicis, and Hearts & Science. All of these agencies were AMAZING! Although you heard from people with the same job titles, you learned something different from each alumni at each agency. For me, that was the most beneficial aspect of this entire trip. No matter how many different professional people you spoke with, they had at least one different piece of advice to give. I learned that no one is the same nor come from the same background. Some people just ‘landed” in their positions… literally. They had absolutely no intentions of being in Advertising. And the people we met that week were just in our shoes not too long ago trying to figure out life and stressing over having a job after college. The most repeated advice was: to gain experience through internships, build connections, and don’t stress if you don’t have a job before graduating.

With those encouraging words of advice I have already applied to MAIP (Multicultural Advertising Intern Program) and have proudly been announced as a finalist. This program works with agencies all across the country to host a fellow for the summer in the particular discipline the intern is interested in and in the city they prefer (if chosen). The discipline I desire to fulfill is account management. After being an Ad Rep for the Daily Beacon, I’ve learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses--personally and professionally. Being a finalist for MAIP means that I have the opportunity to intern in (hopefully) the city of my choice, which is New York City, of course. The selection process is from Feb 8th-15th. Although my placement in an agency for the summer isn’t guaranteed, I am thankful to have made it this far in such a competitive and beneficial program. The UT Ad Club, New York trip opened my eyes to an unlimited amount of possibilities for my future. 

Laura Gamo Named MAIP Finalist

Laura Gamo M.S. StudentLaura Gamo, M.S. student in the School of Advertising & Public Relations was recently named a MAIP finalist. The MAIP fellowship supplies the field of advertising with highly skilled multicultural students. The highly competetive fellowship allows students across the country the ability to work with advertising professionals through a 22-week program. According to MAIP, "By combining real-world work experience, training and development, and networking opportunities within the industry, MAIP participants gain a valuable professional credential to better position themselves in the marketplace. Simultaneously, the program offers advertising agencies the opportunity to access top talent and strengthens the 4A’s efforts to enhance the workforce diversity of our industry."

Founded in 1917, the 4A's is the national trade association representing the advertising agency business in the United States. It is a management-oriented association that offers its members the broadest possible services, expertise and information regarding the advertising agency business. Forty-three years ago the 4A's began the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program with a mission to lead an industry evolution by providing the highest quality, diverse talent and to provide the advertising industry with unparalleled, developed diverse talent. 

MAIP sources top talent from over 3,800 colleges, universities, and portfolio schools nationwide through low to high level engagement practices. Applicants are screened, interviewed and selected by industry recruitment professionals.

http://maip.aaaa.org/#home

Laura a fellow with the Chacellor's Honor Program shared her story with us:

Q: What do you do with the Chancellor's office:

 As a graduate assistant for the Chancellor’s Honors Program, I am in charge of planning, managing and executing many of our student’s co-curricular requirements. I’m also in charge of collaborating on communicative efforts such as fliers, newsletters, etc. for our events and courses.

Q: What are some of the things that have helped get you to where you are that could help other students?

 I think maintaining a positive attitude and having a passionate and active pursuit of my goals has been really important. In my experience, hard work, diligence and a little faith are crucial to success.

 At the same time, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help and support of key mentors and peers in my life. Finding a mentor that has been where you wish to be or that can help guide you along the process is essential. Because I’ve felt the impact these people have had in my life, I also hope aim to be a bridge builder to those overcoming similar disadvantages and challenges.

 I’ve heard it said that it’s possible to grow wings while still staying rooted in who you are and where you came from and I think that’s super important. I’ve learned to understand who I am, to find empowerment in that and to recognize how I can use that to understand and communicate with people having similar and different identities and experiences.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you had to conquer that helped shape your path?

 One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced has been learning to understand, integrate into and navigate in a culture and society different from the one my parents were familiar with. At the same time, the challenges and barriers I have faced have allowed me to develop a perseverance, resilience and strong work ethic that any industry or employer can appreciate.

By far, my parents are my loudest cheerleaders and ultimate role models. Their sacrifice and decision to leave everything they knew to come to the United States in order to give my siblings and I a greater sense of security and better opportunities is an important foundation, and something I cling to in each of the endeavors I undertake.

Q: What are you got most excited about regarding your new job?

I’m really excited about the chance to work with a different group of undergraduate students! Especially as we continue to communicate with, and influence the perspectives and decisions of, different audiences. I believe I can be a part of innovative and constructive developments as we—as a program and as a University—move into a new stage of leadership and execute strategic efforts toward becoming a Top 25 institution. I’m also excited to be able to perform tasks that are centered on communication strategies and strategic cooperation with groups on campus and in the surrounding community.

 I’m really relieved to find that my supervisor and everyone in the office is great—it’s an awesome environment! But if I’m being completely honest, I’m most excited that I’ll be getting to work alongside two other fellow Tar Heels and Carolina graduates, Dr. Virginia Stormer and Ph.D. candidate Matt Baylock.

Q: What are your interests in PR?

 As a woman of color, an immigrant to this country, I've become a unique hybrid as a student, an individual and a professional. Having struggled to learn a new language and integrate myself into a host culture, I know the value of communicating with others, expressing ideas and influencing opinions. More importantly, I recognize the need to consider the voice of the minority and empower and activate those who might often be underrepresented or misunderstood. The realization of the power and influence of communication, along with various other life experiences, has given me a passion for public relations and strategic communication functions, for international and intercultural relations, and for the ethical considerations that accompany each of these.

 My research interests include the role of nongovernmental organizations and social/digital media on policy and on quality of democracy around the globe.

 In my studies and in my personal life, I aim to serve the needs of diverse students and individuals in the surrounding community; encouraging a greater sense of community immersion and consideration and understanding of various worldviews.

Three ADPR Master Students Defend Capstone Projects

Chima Onunka and Robert LambertCongratulations to our three students from the School of Advertising & Public Relations who graduated in December with their Master of Communication and Information degree.

Robert Lambert, Chima Onunka, and Kelsey Robinson successfully defended a Master-level capstone project as part of the Master of Communication & Information degree. 

Robert Lambert (public relations concentration), conducted a cross-cultural study analyzing health-orientated messages in public relations. His study evaluated HIV/AIDS messages from the CDC and Centre for Health Protection in Hong Kong. When asked about the program Lambert said, “This program has significantly improved my research abilities, as well as given me the knowledge needed to be a strategic, rather than reactive communicator. This program also provided me with the opportunities to experience new cultures, as I spent the summer traveling abroad in Siena, Italy.”

Robert Lambert has accepted a Public Relations Manager position with Cherokee Health Systems in Knoxville, Tennessee.    

Chima Onunka (public relations concentration), researched the messages and relationship between African Americans and law enforcement in the United States. His project used Situational Theory of Publics to perform a qualitative study and key informant interviews. Chima interviewed fifteen law enforcement officials and African American participants which allowed for the development of a model for better engagement and dialogue.

Kelsey Robinson (advertising concentration), said she, “developed a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) campaign for Gap that would help lift the brand from an ongoing identity crisis and boost revenue during a time of intense and growing competition within the retail industry. With little differentiation in product offerings, the challenge was to differentiate Gap by communicating its brand voice and values in a way that resonated with the chosen target audience while keeping with its optimistic American brand attitude.”

(Chima Onunka, left & Robert Lambert, right)