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Andrea Hickerson Named Dean of School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: May 20th, 2022 by ldrucker
Andrea Hickerson, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina, as well as associate dean and professor, is the new dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media. Hickerson is a respected researcher, educator and administrator whose vision for the school involves preparing students to succeed in an evolving modern media landscape and deal with ongoing technological and social changes. Submitted photo

Andrea Hickerson, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina, as well as associate dean and professor, is the new dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media. Hickerson is a respected researcher, educator and administrator whose vision for the school involves preparing students to succeed in an evolving modern media landscape and deal with ongoing technological and social changes. Submitted photo

Respected administrator brings expertise in 21st century practices, research into deepfakes

OXFORD, Miss. – Andrea Hickerson, an internationally renowned researcher, educator and administrator, is joining the University of Mississippi as dean of the School of Journalism and New Media.

Her appointment was approved Thursday, May 19 by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning board of trustees at its May meeting. Hickerson begins her new role July 1.

“The appointment of Dr. Hickerson resulted from a national search that attracted a well-qualified pool of applicants,” said Noel Wilkin, UM provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“She is an accomplished researcher and scholar with experience studying deepfakes and issues facing international journalism. She is also an accomplished administrator, having served as a director at two universities.”

Hickerson earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and international relations at Syracuse University, master’s degrees in journalism and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas, and a Ph.D. in communication at the University of Washington. She has served on the faculty at both the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of South Carolina, where she most recently was director of the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications, associate dean and professor.

The new dean said she is “incredibly positive” about coming to Ole Miss and Oxford.

“I love the setting and the history,” Hickerson said. “When I visited campus, I felt a great energy and sense of mission from faculty, staff and students. I was excited by their drive to serve local, state, national and international communities in creative ways.

“I thought we would make great partners and thrive off of each other.”

Hickerson has been a principal investigator, co-principal investigator or investigator on projects generating more than $1.6 million in external support from a range of sources that include the National Science Foundation, U.S. State Department, philanthropic foundations and news networks.

Hickerson said her vision for the school is to prepare students to meet the challenges of evolving modern media and deal with ongoing technological and social changes.

“A short-term goal is to enhance the things the school is already great at, like supporting student media and creating opportunities for experiential learning,” Hickerson said. “To do this, I look forward to listening to and learning from faculty, staff, students and alumni.

“I’m especially interested in traveling across the state and meeting current and future employers of the school’s graduates.”

Hickerson said she wants to make sure that the school is setting students up not just for their first job, but for successful careers.

“I also want to make sure our curriculum is well-rounded and has the right blend of skills classes and topical courses so our students can engage critically with key challenges facing citizens, especially those with backgrounds who differ from their own,” she said.

A long-term goal of Hickerson’s is to increase the school’s expertise and reputation as central to community problem solving.

“A pet peeve of mine is when people equate communication with ‘messaging’ or ‘publicity,’” she said. “Communication experts know how to listen, assess needs, contribute to solutions and communicate them to public and private audiences.”

The incoming dean said she hopes to accomplish this goal by prioritizing interdisciplinary projects and research, including grant-funded research.

“I also hope to achieve this through proactive programming and events that bring experts from different fields to campus to address a common problem,” she said. “I believe that if we take this initiative – creating spaces to discuss and iterate on problems – we can easily demonstrate our centrality to its analysis and solutions.”

A prolific scholar, Hickerson is the author or co-author of more than 25 peer-reviewed journal articles. She has also been a presenter at numerous national and international conferences, as well as at professional development training seminars.

Hickerson said her strong background in research – particularly on deepfakes, manipulated videos that can make it appear that a person said something that they did not – should be especially useful in her new role.

“My research on deepfakes is an example of how journalism and communication can be paired with tech fields to solve a community problem; in this case, fighting misinformation,” she said.

“Also, at the heart of this research is a deep commitment to verification. No matter how we challenge and create new storytelling forms, verification is a central practice.”

Hickerson has received many awards for her teaching and research. One of the most meaningful for her is the University of South Carolina’s Educational Foundation Research Award from Professional Schools. The award is one of the university’s highest research honors.

“I’m proud of it because it recognized how my research impacted the overall practice of journalism, particularly through my deepfake research,” she said.

Hickerson said she is also proud of and grateful for being asked to serve on the advisory board for a community-based research project concerning media portrayals of race in Rochester, New York, in 2018 and again in 2021.

“Both the results of those reports and the community members working on it taught me to question traditional journalism practices and to reconsider who tells community stories and even the definition of ‘newsworthy,’” she said.

Her professional activities and memberships include the editorial board for the Journal of Global Media and Diaspora, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the International Communication Association, and the International Association for Media and Communication Research.

Hickerson will bring “a thoughtful and measured approach” to leading the school, said Debora Rae Wenger, interim dean and professor of journalism.

“Dr. Hickerson appears to think deeply about the role that communication can, does and should play in our society,” Wenger said. “Under her leadership, I think we can reimagine the ways in which our school can contribute to the big conversation taking place around credibility, authenticity and accuracy of news and information in today’s tech-mediated world.”

Wenger said Hickerson’s plans to take the time she needs to understand the culture and to build strategically on past successes are also welcome.

“It’s always good to bring in fresh ideas and new approaches,” she said. “Dr. Hickerson’s previous administrative experience offers us the opportunity to grow.”

Meet some of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media’s outstanding 2022 graduates

Posted on: May 13th, 2022 by ldrucker

Journey to Commencement

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media congratulates the Class of 2022. Here are a few profiles of some of our outstanding graduates. The students shared thoughts on what drew them to UM, what they learned on their Journey to Commencement, their favorite classes and professors, and their future plans.

Click the images below to read their stories.

By LaReeca Rucker

WTVA multimedia reporter is among those graduating from UM School of Journalism and New Media with master’s degree

Posted on: May 7th, 2022 by ldrucker
Taylor Tucker graduated from UM in May of 2020. That year, she was hired as a multimedia journalist at WTVA in Tupelo. Now, the 2022 master's grad also works as the station's morning and weekend anchor.

Taylor Tucker graduated from UM in May of 2020. That year, she was hired as a multimedia journalist at WTVA in Tupelo. Now, the 2022 master’s grad also works as the station’s morning and weekend anchor.”

Taylor Tucker graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media in May of 2020. That year, she was hired as a multimedia journalist at WTVA in Tupelo and received a promotion her first year. Now earning her graduate degree, the 2022 grad also works as the morning and weekend anchor on WTVA from 5 a.m. until 7 a.m.

“News has earned my heart,” Tucker said, “and I plan to continue my journey as a news anchor and reporter. It’s comforting to know I now have my master’s and plan to utilize it later in my career.”

Tucker is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared her Journey to Commencement.

Interim Dean Debora Wenger said one of the things that stands out about Tucker is her kindness.

“As a journalist, I know she will tell stories with compassion and care,” she said.

Wenger said Tucker is also one of the students who loves learning.

“She took advantage of opportunities to build her skills in the classroom and in the newsroom,” she said. “While still in graduate school, she started working as a reporter for WTVA in Tupelo, and the combination of professional experience and a master’s degree is going to take her far.”

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media has forged relationships with news directors across the state and around the region.

“When the folks at WTVA met Taylor, the saw huge potential and offered her a position,” Wenger said.

Tucker’s advice to fellow students: Take advantage of every opportunity. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to better perfect your craft.”

Read a previous story we wrote about Taylor below.

Taylor Tucker sits at the WTVA news desk.

Taylor Tucker sits at the WTVA news desk.

DaLakin Crawford
Oxford Stories
dkcrawfo@go.olemiss.edu

When interning as a freshman, Tucker said she felt as if she was not in the right career field because she didn’t know much about news stations and reporting in general and she was intimidated by the people who were already on the job.

“They were so much more advanced,” she said.

Taylor Tucker reporting for WTVA.

Taylor Tucker reporting for WTVA.

This made her feel behind and not in the right field. As a freshman, she became discouraged until she realized she was just getting started and still had more work to do.

When Tucker became a junior at UM, she received another internship. She knew what to expect and felt more confident because she realized she would learn as she goes.

While Tucker encountered some difficulties as an undergraduate on the road to becoming a journalist, she has also faced challenges as a young professional. One such challenge involved a February snowstorm.

It was Tucker’s first time reporting in those weather conditions. She had to drive on the roads and was afraid of what might happen. However, she managed to overcome that fear and get the job done.

“You never know what you are getting yourself into,” she said.

Each day, her job is different.  Tucker said she has to be mentally prepared because some days are challenging, but she wouldn’t want to do anything else.

DeAndria Turner, friend and former classmate of Tucker, graduated from the University of Mississippi in May 2020 and now works as a news reporter at Fox61 in Hartford, Connecticut. She described Tucker as a hardworking person who never gives up and is always willing to learn more about her career so she can improve as a journalist. Turner said those qualities are what she admires most about Tucker.

“She is always looking for ways to improve her craft,” said Turner. “She is always looking for ways to become more creative and engage the audience.”

Turner said Tucker feels she can never be too good or know enough. Therefore, she watches other journalists and learns from them.

“She isn’t afraid to ask questions, and she holds herself and others accountable,” Turner said.

Tucker may be graduating with a second degree, but she’s not ready to stop learning, yet.

“I think we all need continual growth and lessons to keep becoming better journalists,” Turner said. “Especially so we don’t get complacent in our craft.”

You can read the full story at OxfordStories.net.

It all started with a Tweet: Collierville native will pursue IMC sports career after graduation

Posted on: May 6th, 2022 by ldrucker
Jackson Sepko has worked for Ole Miss Athletics for three years and plans to pursue a career in digital marketing for a sports company.

Jackson Sepko’s college journey into social media marketing began with a Tweet.

“The summer before my freshman year, I sent a celebratory tweet after a big Ole Miss Baseball win that got a good number of likes and retweets,” he said.

When the dust settled, Sepko saw he had a message from someone named Debbie Hall, whose bio said she taught in the School of Journalism and New Media’s integrated marketing communications (IMC) program.

“She said, ‘You have a way with words. Are you by chance an IMC major?’ I said I was, and we got to meet early in the semester.”Hall recommended that Sepko pursue a social media internship at the Sanderson Farms Championship, a PGA Tour event in Jackson, and with her help, he became the first freshman ever hired there.

“That experience showed me that sports social and digital media was the path for me,” said Sepko, who is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared his Journey to Commencement.

Following that internship, Hall introduced him to Scott Fiene, associate professor of integrated marketing communication, who was teaching a large introductory IMC class that semester.

Jackson Sepko stands in the Grove in front of Farley Hall.

“Mr. Fiene helped me get an internship covering sports and doing email marketing with HottyToddy.com,” Sepko said. “That experience, paired with my earlier social media work, led me to Ole Miss Athletics, where I’ve been a digital media marketing assistant for the past three years. This work helping to promote the teams I grew up cheering for has been so rewarding and confirmed that I want to continue working in this field.”

That role with Athletics also led Sepko to become involved with the School of Journalism and New Media’s social media, with a particular focus on Instagram. He said getting to highlight the accomplishments of his peers has been exciting.

In addition to his work with Ole Miss Athletics, Sepko is a member of the Honors College.

“That campus community has pushed me to be a better student and a more involved community member and has given me some of my very best friends,” he said. “I also got the opportunity to conduct my capstone thesis on college sports social media marketing, which I defended this November.

“Mrs. Hall and Mr. Fiene were my advisors, and getting to work with two professors who have been professional and personal mentors to me since my freshman year was really gratifying and a kind of ‘full-circle’ moment. That work exposed me to different approaches across five different athletic departments and seven team-specific accounts, and I have no doubt it will be a big help to me in my next professional steps.”

Sepko said he has enjoyed all of his classes, but two stand out. IMC 104, an introductory class, got him hooked on IMC.

“I had Mr. Fiene for that class, and I now have him for Honors IMC 455, the campaigns class,” he said. “Getting to have him again, work on one big campaign team with friends I’ve had for a long time, and apply all the IMC knowledge I’ve learned for this project for The Alluvian Hotel in Greenwood has been another cool ‘full-circle’ moment.”

In Oxford, Sepko works as an English tutor at Oxford High School, and he is a member of Pinelake Church.

“The teaching and community there have kept me and my perspective grounded and reminded me that we exist to be a light and serve others,” he said.

Going through COVID in the middle of college was a unique challenge for Sepko and others, but he said the way everyone united and returned to school and work taught him a lot about the importance of resilience and the power of community.

Jackson Sepko stands in the Grove in front of Farley Hall.

“I’m thankful to all our professors and school officials who worked to get us back on campus, and especially grateful for a relatively ‘normal’ close to college,” he said.

Sepko is interviewing for sports jobs in social and digital media right now.

“Sports jobs hire a little later than most other jobs coming out of school just because the off-season for most sports is the summer,” he said. “That’s a little nerve-wracking for sure, but I have wonderful bosses and professors who have all been huge help to me, and I’m excited to see where I end up.”

Fiene notes Sepko’s passion and expertise is in sports promotion and social media.

“This started in high school, where as a freshman, he volunteered to keep statistics for his high school football team,” Fiene said. “His creative and clever way of making the statistics interesting led him to become one of the football broadcast announcers halfway through the season, then he started announcing basketball.

“In his sophomore year, he worked with the school administration to upgrade the broadcasting equipment, took the show on the road and eventually assumed responsibility for the coaches program, which had previously been outsourced. Mind you, he was 15-16 years old at the time, but what this demonstrates is that his journey to excellence started well before Ole Miss, and he entered our program with more experience than some students leave with.”

This year, Sepko received the school’s Excellence in IMC award, but in his junior year, he received the Taylor Medal, the University’s highest academic honor. Typically, the award is only given to seniors, and Fiene said Sepko exemplifies all of the things that make our top students special:  Perfect 4.0 GPA, Honors College, Chancellor’s Honor Roll, Kappa Tau Alpha Honors Society, Phi Kappa Phi, Lambda Sigma, volunteer experiences, and several internships.

“He’s also tutored Oxford Middle School students in Latin literature and Greek-Roman history …,” said Fiene, “but what strikes me as his greatest strength is his drive, his passion, and his ability to apply his learning and make a difference in the media profession well before he finishes his undergraduate studies.”

Sepko said he initially thought he would need to double-major in communications, marketing or sports management.

“I then discovered the IMC program and realized I had been searching for IMC without realizing it,” he said.

His advice: “I would tell students to soak up every moment and take advantage of every opportunity because college goes by quickly, but it’s full of lots of wonderful opportunities. Don’t be shy about talking to your professors. That will lead to a lot of those opportunities.”

Sepko said UM journalism and IMC students are fortunate to learn from many people who are teaching from their own personal experience in the type of jobs students eventually want to land.

“So take advantage of their real-world connections and soak up all the professional experience you can in your four years,” he said. “Be sure to find the right balance and make lots of good memories with your friends along the way, too.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

Daily Mississippian sports editor will pursue sports communication career in NYC

Posted on: May 5th, 2022 by ldrucker
Orlando native Catherine Jeffers had a stellar academic career and earned a Taylor Medal for her hard work. After serving as sports editor for the Daily Mississippian - one of the few women who has ever done so - she is eager to move to New York City to pursue a career in sports communications.

Orlando native Catherine Jeffers has had a stellar academic career and earned a Taylor Medal for her hard work. After serving as sports editor for The Daily Mississippian – one of the few women who has ever done so – she plans to move to New York City to pursue a career in sports communications.

She is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared her Journey to Commencement.

Jeffers earned a dual degree in journalism and integrated marketing communications with minors in English and business. She was also a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Delta Gamma.

Orlando native Catherine Jeffers had a stellar academic career and earned a Taylor Medal for her hard work. After serving as sports editor for the Daily Mississippian - one of the few women who has ever done so - she is eager to move to New York City to pursue a career in sports communications.

“I’ve always had a strong passion for media writing, storytelling, and good communication, which led me to study journalism and IMC,” she said. “I’ve always had the desire to move to New York and start my career in communications.

“A goal of mine is to work in professional sports on the comms side, or work for an agency that works with athletes. I’m still currently applying for jobs, but I hope to move to the city after I graduate in May and land an entry-level position in communications.”

Debbie Woodrick Hall, a University of Mississippi  School of Journalism and New Media instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications said Jeffers is a “lifetime learner.”

“For her Honors College thesis, she analyzed 50 years of Title IX and its impact (and sometimes lack of impact) on women’s sports,” Hall said. “She was always very open to suggestions offered by Professor Cynthia Joyce, Professor Vanessa Gregory, and me. She is a confident young woman who has been an excellent student while in the IMC/journalism programs at Ole Miss. I expect great things from her.”

Orlando native Catherine Jeffers had a stellar academic career and earned a Taylor Medal for her hard work. After serving as sports editor for the Daily Mississippian - one of the few women who has ever done so - she is eager to move to New York City to pursue a career in sports communications. She is standing on a field.

Dennis Moore, student media editorial director, said Jeffers had not worked on The Daily Mississippian staff before being named Sports Editor last year, but she led The DM’s team of sports editors and writers like a seasoned pro from day one.

“With her guidance, coverage of men’s and women’s sports was equally celebratory and critical when warranted, which gained readers’, players’ and coaches’ respect,” Moore said. “In the newsroom, she was invariably smart, efficient, positive and insightful — and never reticent about offering suggestions to improve content beyond sports coverage, as well, but doing so in a way that did not make her colleagues defensive.”

On his first day as editorial advisor in The DM newsroom, Moore said Jeffers asked for his help with a sensitive story.

“I learned quickly that collaborating with her would be a pleasure — not only on that story but also on every subsequent story,” he said.

Jeffers said she was “floored” when she received an email that she had been nominated for a Taylor Medal, the highest academic honor a student can receive at Ole Miss. It recognizes outstanding academic performance and is given to no more than one percent of the student body.

“I remembered going into the (Student Media Center) and telling a few of my coworkers and friends who let me know how important the honor was to even be nominated,” she said. “After I submitted my application after nomination, I remember how proud I was of myself to even be thought of as a potential medalist. When I received the email that I was selected as a Taylor Medalist, I was still shocked.”

Jeffers said she is proud of all that she has accomplished at UM.

“It is rewarding to be recognized for it all,” she said. “I’m very humbled to be honored alongside my peers, and I can’t wait to see all that they achieve after graduation.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

Hard Work Pays Off: North Carolina IMC grad juggles internships and school to finish strong

Posted on: May 4th, 2022 by ldrucker
Mary Chapman Johnson is one graduate who has proven that hard work pays off. The graphic features a graduation cap.

For Mary Chapman Johnson, 22, earning a degree in integrated marketing communications (IMC) with a minor in business required work inside and outside of the classroom.

“I worked 30+ hours a week with my internship on top of being a full-time student,” said Johnson, who is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared her Journey to Commencement.

The Winston-Salem native was involved in in her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and she served on the executive board for Turning Point USA, an organization that advocates for conservative values on high school, college, and university campuses.

She also interned for Carmigo, a website that helps people sell their cars.

“In my senior year of high school, I applied to 12 colleges,” Johnson said. “One would think that it would be hard to decide with so many options, but as soon as I got my Ole Miss admission packet, I knew this was the place for me.”

Johnson said her biggest personal and educational challenges were pandemic-related.

Mary Chapman Johnson

“Shifting to an online learning and social environment was hard for me, as I am very sociable,” she said. “It was hard for me to engage as authentically as I would have if the class were in person.”

Despite those challenges, Michael Tonos, an instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, said Johnson was a memorable student.

“Mary Chapman was what I call a front-row student,” he said, “not just because she literally chose to sit in the front row, but because she was interested, engaged and eager to improve.

“She came into IMC 205 with solid skills and built on them to earn one of the best grades in the class. She asked good questions and sought feedback. She was pleasant to work with, but also would speak up when she had her own opinion.”

Tonos said he also worked with Johnson as an adviser, helping her chart her academic path.

After graduation, Johnson said she plans to begin working in a business development position with alliantgroup, a Houston, Texas-based national tax consulting services firm.

Scott Fiene, associate professor of integrated marketing communications, said Johnson was in his Introduction to IMC class during the fall of her freshmen semester. She also took his IMC capstone campaigns course in the spring semester of her senior year.

“She’s been a student of mine at the beginning and the end of the program,” he said. “I love it when that happens.”

Fiene said Johnson seems to love learning.

“One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is her inquisitiveness,” he said. “She doesn’t just take notes in class, but she asks questions and engages (and leads) class discussions. She’s always wanting to know more, do more, learn more. It’s a delight to have students like her.”

Johnson’s advice to students: “Engage in your classes and build strong relationships with your professors, even as a freshman. My favorite professor from freshman year helped me get an internship. Your professors have great connections and are here to help you be successful, not only in the classroom but also after college.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

NewsWatch leader will pursue sports journalism and legal career

Posted on: May 3rd, 2022 by ldrucker
A. J. Norwood dreams of becoming a national sports reporter and an attorney. The graphic features hands stacking blocks with icons on them. The top block features a graduation cap.

He has dreams of rising in the ranks as a national sports reporter and becoming an attorney.

The sky is the limit for A.J. Norwood, a Batesville native whose desire and ability to achieve excellence left a memorable impression on University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media leaders. He is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared his Journey to Commencement.

“I came into college knowing that I wanted to be a broadcast journalist,” said Norwood. “More specifically, I knew I wanted to be a sports broadcaster.”

The broadcast journalism major with a minor in legal studies has worked for NewsWatch – UM’s live, student-run news broadcast, since his freshmen year.

“Auditioning for NewsWatch Ole Miss and getting hired there was pretty much how I got my start doing that,” he said. “It opened up a lot of opportunities for me due to the work that I put in, and I was blessed to be able to make things happen as a result of it.”

Norwood started out as a sports anchor with NewsWatch, then worked his way up to sports director, overseeing sports reporters and anchors.

He also served as a school ambassador, leadership and engagement ambassador, a Luckyday team leader and media specialist, and president of the University of Mississippi Association of Black Journalists during his college career.

“Sports journalism was my first goal,” he said. “Being in college now and getting real-world experience, I know I can do news and sports.”

Student A.J. Norwood sits behind the anchor desk at NewsWatch. Norwood said he was drawn to UM because of its journalism program, and his older sister, Taylor, graduated from UM in 2020. 

He became interested in law during his sophomore year while taking JOUR 371 Communications Law, and decided to pursue legal studies as a minor. He said he’ll most likely pursue journalism first after graduating.

Assistant Dean Patricia Thompson, who leads the Student Media Center, said she has worked extensively with Norwood in her role as student media director and faculty adviser for the UMABJ.

“I recognized A.J.’s strengths as a young sports journalist and his leadership potential and helped recruit him for NewsWatch and UMABJ,” she said. “He’s here with NewsWatch five afternoons a week.

“Like many of our top high-achieving, hard-working students, he runs the risk of being tapped by different departments for too many campus activities. He rarely says no to any opportunity, and he still manages to excel in his work at the (Student Media Center), with UMABJ and in his internships.

“He was one of the students we sent to cover the Sugar Bowl for the SMC. I have no doubt he is going to have an awesome career. Any TV station in the nation would be lucky to land him.”  

LaReeca Rucker, adjunct instructional assistant professor of journalism, said Norwood showed great promise early on in a beginning journalism course.

“Some people stand out because they demand attention, and some stand out because they demonstrate a quiet excellence,” she said. “A.J. always knocked every assignment out of the ballpark. His work spoke for itself, and he took home the top honor in my class.”

Assistant Dean Jennifer Simmons said Norwood has the drive and determination for the goals he sets for himself.

“A.J. has the talent, skills, and personality to be a phenomenal broadcast journalist,” she said.

Interim Dean Debora Wenger said Norwood is a gifted communicator.

“I know he is going to be a success,” she said. “He has many talents, but he remains humble and willing to learn from everyone he encounters. No matter where he goes, he will be an asset to the organization as he was to our school — a good student, a good journalist, a good person.”

Norwood believes hands-on experience has given him the tools he needs for success.

“I think I am pretty prepared for whatever I need to do after college,” he said.

He also enjoys photography and has worked as a media specialist for Luckyday Residential College.

“I kind of do photography for both work and fun,” he said. “I figured out that it was something that I can be really good at if I just put in the time to do it.”

Norwood encourages students to pursue their interests in college.

“If there is something you are passionate about, believe in yourself and take that step,” he said. “Do it. You want to always be able to look back and say, ‘I had no regrets while I was here,’ but obviously make good decisions.”

When he’s not reporting, shooting photos, or attending classes, he enjoys spending time with friends. Some of his best memories are late-night runs to Insomnia Cookies on the Oxford Square.

Norwood, one of four children, graduated from South Panola High School, where he played football and soccer while participating in organizations and honor societies.

“Following graduation, I plan to either attend law school or pursue a career as a professional journalist,” he said. “I have a few job offers, but it’s a matter of figuring out the best decision to make for myself right now.”

His advice to students: “Do something (you’re) happy doing in college, in terms of a major. Regardless of how difficult the course load is … if you have a dream job, pursue it. Nothing is going to come easy, but the payoff will be greater in the end.

“I would also tell younger students to make the most of their time in undergrad. I understand that we are all here to get a degree, but these are supposed to be some of the best years of your life. Don’t take it for granted.”

Jena Stallings contributed to this story.

University of Mississippi journalism grad student from France plans to pursue filmmaking career

Posted on: April 29th, 2022 by ldrucker
Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, came to the United States for the first time as an study abroad exchange student in Georgia. When the year ended, she returned to her home in 2022 graduate Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, came to the U.S. first as an exchange student in Georgia from Lille, France and decided to return to attend graduate school at the University of Mississippi. , France.

Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, came to the United States for the first time as a study abroad exchange student in Georgia. When the year ended, she returned to her home in Lille, France.

“I really wanted to go back to the South, which surprises most people,” she said, “but I really like the atmosphere and kindness of people around here, and I also love that Oxford is a small-town, close-knit community.”

Denoulet returned to the American South for graduate studies. She applied to several schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media awarded her an assistantship that allowed Denoulet to earn her Master of Arts in Journalism. She is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared her Journey to Commencement.

Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, is a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student from Lille, France.

Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, is a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student from Lille, France. She is pictured on assignment with Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism.

“I have loved these past two years,” she said. “I have tried to be as close to the international community as I could, trying to build community. In terms of classes, I have tried to take as many videography and documentary courses as I could, since I love filming.

“I got to work on so many projects, and experience the most random things, ranging from petting a baby goat to jumping on a trampoline with several kids, to visiting a catfish farm. This is what makes me love what I do, and I cannot wait to work on many more projects.”

Denoulet’s love of storytelling led her to apply for a Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Expression with UM’s Southern Studies department.

Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, is a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student from Lille, France.

Elise-Joelle Denoule.

“That’s my first option so far, but I also intend on applying to jobs in documentary filmmaking as well as video journalism all around the world, especially in Northern Africa or in the Middle East, so I can make use of my Arabic and learn some more,” she said.

Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism, has worked closely with Denoulet on many projects.

“Elise is willing to do the little things and the big things that make stories successful,” he said. “When my TV Documentary class was covering the illegal drug problem in Southeast Mississippi, she was willing to drive back down to cover a drug program graduation ceremony that was critical for the story.”

Fagans describes her as friendly, confident, quietly talented, a hard worker, and a student that receives criticism and applies suggestions to make her storytelling more effective.

“I have been fortunate to have taught her in two classes,” he said, “and I am on her professional project committee that she successfully presented and defended earlier this week. She immersed herself in the catfish industry in our state, interviewed some noted authorities, traveled around the Delta and Northern Mississippi, and created an enjoyable and informative documentary film. I am looking forward to seeing what she accomplishes in the Southern Studies program and then later in our field.”

Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, is a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student from Lille, France.

Elise-Joelle Denoulet.

Denoulet said being an international student brings an additional level of difficulty compared to what American students might experience.

“For instance, while my classmates had to write a 10-page essay, I had to write a 10-page essay in my second language,” she said. “Everything is a little more challenging, but also so rewarding.”

During her time at Ole Miss, she audited language classes. She refreshed her Spanish and began learning Arabic.

Her advice to students: “College only lasts a few years. Take advantage of that time. As a French student, I can tell you there are so many more opportunities I got while studying here than I would have had in France, in terms of student life, academics, and work opportunities.

“Attend events, get involved on campus, and do your best work in class. Getting yourself noticed by teachers or faculty will bring you rewarding opportunities.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

First generation DeSoto campus grad will join advertising firm after graduation

Posted on: April 28th, 2022 by ldrucker
The graphic features a graduation cap and a picture of Benjamin Wilson, an IMC student, who will be the first in his family to graduate from college.

When Benjamin Wilson, 24, graduated with a degree in integrated marketing communications (IMC) from the University of Mississippi DeSoto campus in Southaven, he became the first person in his family to earn a college degree.

The Pontotoc native who lives in Southaven with his wife is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared his Journey to Commencement.

“I am the first person in my family to ever go to college,” he said. “People did not expect me to go to college and definitely did not expect me to be successful.”

Wilson said he took a year off after graduating high school to work and save money for college. He earned an associate’s degree from Itawamba Community College, then skipped another year of school to get married, work, and save more money before returning to earn his bachelor’s degree.

“When coming to Ole Miss, I was undecided in my major,” he said. “I was interested in business and marketing. I had never heard of IMC until my advisor at Ole Miss told me about it. I instantly knew it was the major for me. It opens up career opportunities in business, marketing, communications and more.”

Benjamin Wilson While much of Wilson’s time in college happened virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has served as a member of the Gamma Beta Phi Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success. He has also earned a spot on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll each semester.

Wilson said his favorite class has been IMC 205: Writing for Integrated Marketing Communication, taught by his favorite instructor, Patricia Overstreet-Miller.

“It was one of the first IMC classes I took,” he said, “and it assured me I was in the right major,” he said.

Wilson said his biggest personal and educational challenge during college was prioritizing.

“I have worked full time all throughout my college career,” he said. “Juggling my job, school, and being a husband has been very challenging. I have had to sacrifice some of my social life and ‘fun time’ in order to prioritize schoolwork. While it is not fun at the moment, I know it will all be worth it when I graduate in May.”

Wilson will work as a junior SEO specialist at Neon Canvas – an advertising firm in Memphis.

“I did a summer internship with the company last summer, and they offered me a full-time position after my internship,” he said.

Overstreet-Miller, an instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, said Wilson is a born leader, who is talented, hard-working and committed.

“Like others among the regional students, he balances personal responsibilities and a full-time job with a heavy class load,” she said. “From the beginning, I’ve seen both talent and character in Ben. He will make us all proud.”

Wilson’s advice: “I think the number one piece of advice I would give is to not be afraid to put yourself out there – even if you are more reserved or introverted,” he said. “College is a difficult task, and it is really hard to go at it alone. I would encourage everyone to surround themselves with a good support system – family, friends, and especially other students in your major and classes.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

You might say IMC is in the DNA of this Germantown graduate

Posted on: April 26th, 2022 by ldrucker
Integrated marketing communications 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 natural, but it took her a while to realize that she had been on an IMC career path since she was a teenager.

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.”

Integrated marketing communications is Lilly Hamm's DNA. With a mom who has worked as a brand strategist and a father who was a creative director, studying IMC came natural, but it took her a while to realize that she had been on an IMC career path since she was a teenager.

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.