You might say that IMC is Arabella Hamm’s DNA.
With a mom who has worked as a brand strategist and a father who was a creative director, studying IMC came naturally, but it took Hamm a while to realize that she had been on an IMC career path since she was born.
“When I entered the University of Mississippi, and it was time to declare a major, I was left a little disappointed because I had watched so many people around me have this ‘Eureka!’ moment when discovering their career path,” Hamm said. “I waited for so long on an epiphany to come to me to let me know what I was meant to do, but this quick rush of a feeling never came. Instead, I came to more of a realization.”
The Germantown, Tennessee native said she was born into an IMC family. She is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared her Journey to Commencement.
“My mother, the MBA in Economics, has been a brand strategist and principal on the agency side and held the title of chief marketing officer on the client-side of the equation,” she said. “My father began his career as a copywriter and speechwriter and has since been a producer, an editor, and a creative director.”
Hamm said her life has been surrounded by marketing, advertising, branding, sponsorships, and public relations.
“Before I could tie my shoes, I was on the set of photo, video, and TV shoots,” she said. “As a child, I sat on the ottoman in my father’s office, thumbing through stacks of Communication Arts, Print, and How magazines. Later, my mother had me arrange the volumes of Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and AdWeek in chronological order on her credenza.”
Over the years, Hamm said she checked media credentials, filled welcome bags, and served as a photographer at special events. In high school, she interned at a branding agency where she gathered travel data for a tourism client and used the information to create social media content.
“So, it was finally obvious to me,” she said. “I did not need a ‘lightbulb moment,’ because marketing has always been with me. It is in my DNA. I am wired for this program.
“Fast forward four years later, and I am set to receive my bachelor’s degree in integrated marketing communications. In retrospect, I cannot imagine it any other way.”
On campus, Hamm was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Chi Omega Tau Sorority. In Honors College, she delved deep into her studies, introduced to subjects she would have never otherwise explored, she said.
Completing her Honors thesis was also valuable.
“The process of researching my subject, interviewing an amazing array of industry experts, working with my advisor, Dr. (Graham) Bodie to edit, revise and edit again has been the most simultaneously challenging and most enlightening experience to date,” she said. “As I answer these questions, I am completing and preparing to defend my thesis: Grabbing Consumers by the Ears: Exploring the Power of Branded Podcasts.”
Bodie said Arabella reached out to him in October of 2020 seeking a chair for her Honors thesis project.
“Her passion for podcasts was obvious at the time, and that enthusiasm only grew as we settled on a specific focus, the branded podcast,” he said. “It’s refreshing to work with students like Arabella who pose questions that don’t yet have answers and who work diligently to, not only find answers, but continue to ask interesting and field-shaping questions.
“Indeed, research is as much about asking useful questions as it is about putting forth answers, and Arabella gets that. She is already thinking like a graduate student, well on her way to making solid contributions to our understanding of IMC. The future of our field is strong with student-scholars like Arabella.”
Hamm said some of her favorite classes were IMC 304: Account Planning and IMC 455: IMC Campaigns.
“But my most interesting class that I will remember forever was Philosophy of Film with Dr. Timothy Yenter,” she said. “Towards the end of our class, we had the opportunity to travel to Columbia, Missouri to take part in the True/False Film Festival. This was my first-time studying film, and it was such a unique experience that I feel I would not be able to get anywhere else.”
After graduation, Hamm will be attending graduate school at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media to earn her Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communication. She recently accepted a position as a graduate assistant for the Division of Diversity Community and Engagement at Ole Miss.
“I feel like sometimes it is easy to look around at the thousands of kids in college and think they are all living these perfect lives where they are having this fun college experience and doing so well in school,” she said. “But this assumption is usually incorrect. I think it’s okay to feel lost at times, and I wish someone had told me that sooner.”
Hamm said not everyone has everything planned out, and that’s OK. That’s what college is for.
“The beauty of a great college is that it is there to educate and inspire; to distract and open doors you had no idea even existed,” she said. “You just have to keep your eyes open and recognize opportunities when they present themselves. But whatever you do, do not give up because it looks like everyone else around you is doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. Chances are they are experiencing the same doubts and obstacles you are. They just don’t look like it on Instagram.”
This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.