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Integrated marketing communications student discusses her life and education journey during summer IMC class

Posted on: July 24th, 2021 by ldrucker

It won’t be long until students are back in classes at the University of Mississippi, but right now, summer classes are in session. Professor Mark Dolan’s IMC 205 class welcomed Nikki Daost last week, who discussed her education and career path in integrated marketing communications (IMC). This story was written by Paige Case, a student in Dolan’s class.

Nikki Daoust

Nikki Daoust

By Paige Case

Born in Quebec, raised in California, and now living in Mississippi, Nikki Daoust, a 23-year-old graduate student at The University of Mississippi,  has traveled her whole life.

“I travel a lot with my family. For birthdays and Christmas we go on trips and just do small gifts. Traveling together means more,” Daoust says.

While earning her integrated marketing and communications undergraduate degree at the University of Mississippi, Daoust studied abroad her junior year for six months in New Zealand. Although Daoust has traveled far and wide, she always finds her way back home to Oxford.

In New Zealand, she interned at All Heart NZ, a nonprofit organization, where she worked on branding and marketing. After her internship, she finished her undergraduate degree in 2020 and was ready to see where she would go next.

Then the pandemic hit and Daoust’s plans to travel were put on pause.

She voyaged off into a new kind of journey when she learned that Ole Miss is one of the few colleges offering a graduate IMC program. Furthering her knowledge of IMC led Daoust to explore the benefits of staying in Oxford by enrolling in the graduate program.

Her original plan was to graduate from Ole Miss and travel. She wanted to work for companies outside of Mississippi and even toyed with the idea of returning to have a temporary stay in New Zealand.

Although Daoust didn’t travel geographically, she explored different possibilities for her future by using the graduate program as her transportation to deepen her education.

The graduate program lets students dive in more on a specific area of their choosing within IMC and gives students the responsibility of being in charge of graphic design, writing, marketing, and more. It’s a two year program where students are able to work at any of the university’s departments or off campus.

“I interviewed for the School of Education, and they said they wanted a lot of videos and just ways to contact students and get involved and all that. Seems like there’s a lot of stuff for me to do here. I’ve always liked graphic design and just a way to be creative,” Daoust says.

Daoust took on the job of marketing and communications at the School of Education where she redesigned their magazine, revamped their website, put their interviews together with stories, and created an online toolbox for outlining how to market the university’s brand. With a 20-hour work week, Daoust primarily works on their graphic design, bringing out the passion she had when she was younger.

Although she was excited to start a new journey, that excitement came hand-in-hand with nervousness. “When I first got the job, I was really worried that I didn’t know anything about the School of Education or education as a whole. I’m not a teacher. I was kind of thinking that I was going to be jumping into something that was completely unknown to me, but everyone there is super friendly,” Daoust says.

Working on the School of Education’s magazine and website gave Daoust a chance to take hold of her creativity and apply it to marketing something she knew little about.

“It’s kind of nice being one of the only people in charge of marketing and communications because it gives me a little bit more creative freedom, and I just get to express myself, even though it’s limited to the university’s branding,” Daoust says.

In addition to the work she’s done on the magazine and website, she also helps contribute to the School of Education’s Instagram. “When I first started, we were trying to grow our social media presence,” Daoust explains.

She managed the Instagram account by posting on it and improving it based on the analytic data. “We have weekly meetings. We see if there’s an increase or decrease in what we’re posting,” Daoust says.

Daoust said some of the most enjoyable benefits about her work, which is primarily done on her computer, are the flexibility of deadlines and the ability to work at home with her beloved cat, Gertrude. While she works, she manages her coursework.

Daoust plans to graduate in 2022 with her masters in integrated marketing communications, which is sure to lead her on a new adventure. “I realized that there’s a lot more I need to learn, and I’m not really done with IMC yet,” Daoust says.

Paige Case

Paige Case

This story was written by Paige Case. The Madison, Mississippi native currently attends Jackson Preparatory School as a rising senior. She has worked on the yearbook staff throughout high school. She interned at Mississippi Magazine during June and gained hands-on experience. “This summer, I have learned a lot about Ole Miss’ School of Journalism and New Media by taking an integrated marketing communications 205 class throughout July,” she said. “I love learning about how photography, writing, and social media all interact with each other. Before taking this class, I didn’t know the difference between writing news stories and writing a paper. The School of Journalism and New Media has expanded my way of thinking to be more creative with my writing and has shown me all of the opportunities IMC can lead to. I have two older sisters who went to Ole Miss and I plan to attend Ole Miss when I graduate high school in 2022 and likely major in IMC.

UM journalism graduate to join ABC 7 Chicago Eyewitness News as special projects producer

Posted on: July 1st, 2021 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media journalism graduate will soon join the ABC 7 Chicago Eyewitness News team as a special projects producer.

Poinesha Barnes first day at the station will be Monday, Aug. 9.

“Poinesha has an impressive track record producing winning newscasts and specials,” said Jennifer Graves, vice president of News, ABC 7 Chicago, in a news release. “She also brings great enthusiasm, leadership and a wealth of ideas to any team effort. She will be an important addition to ABC 7’s special projects and community reporting.”

Poinesha Barnes

Poinesha Barnes

Barnes is currently a producer at KXAS-TV, the NBC-owned station in Dallas, where she produced both newscasts and specials. She also contributed to KXAS’ diversity and inclusion efforts as co-lead of the Black Employee Network.

Prior to joining KXAS-TV, Barnes worked as a producer at WREG-TV in Memphis. She also produced newscasts and digital content at WEAR-TV in Pensacola, Florida.

In addition, Barnes has been active in her local chapters of the National Association of Black Journalists.

A journalism graduate of the University of Mississippi-Oxford, Barnes is currently studying for a master’s in industrial/organizational psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. When not working, she enjoys mentoring youth, spending time with family and learning the art of Bachata.

University of Mississippi IMC grad offers tips for landing your first public relations job

Posted on: May 19th, 2021 by ldrucker

Kara Weller graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications degree. The Stevens Point, Wisconsin native has lived in Nashville since graduation and now works as a communications specialist at Pierce Public Relations.

Weller penned this column for PR Couture that offers Four Tips from a PR Grad Who Landed Her Dream Job in a Brand New City.

Kara Weller

Kara Weller

Breaking into the public relations industry and getting your first job can be daunting, but Weller said she knew she wanted to work in public relations because she admired how PR pros used strategic communications to help individuals and brands reach their goals.

After moving to Nashville after graduation, she began reaching out to PR firms. She said she was instantly drawn to Pierce Public Relations after reading the founder’s inspirational story about how she moved to Nashville and started her own business.

Weller’s tips may help you navigate the job market. You can read her article at this link.

Have a business column you’d like to share? Email us at this link.

View highlights from the UM School of Journalism and New Media 2021 graduation

Posted on: May 4th, 2021 by ldrucker

If you missed graduation, or you want to relive the fun, check out our Graduation 2021 page.

There,  you’ll find videos featuring candid photos of our graduates’ favorite memories from the University of Mississippi. We’ve put together a video slideshow.

Senior Memories 2021

Senior Memories 2021

You can also view the Class of 2021 Commencement Ceremony Program and watch a video featuring our guest speaker, Jesse J. Holland, who also graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media before becoming a journalist and author.

And you can read profiles of some of our outstanding 2021 graduates. You can access this content later under the Graduation tab on our website.

Congratulations seniors!

Meet some of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media’s outstanding 2021 graduates

Posted on: May 1st, 2021 by ldrucker

Journey to Commencement

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media congratulates the Class of 2021. 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.

Their collective advice for future students is to make the most of your four years of college because it’s over quickly, and don’t wait until you graduate to begin building your resume. 

By LaReeca Rucker

Eumetria Jones in front of Farley Hall

Memphis native Eumetria Jones is an IMC major who has moved to Austin, Texas to work as the new social media coordinator for YETI Coolers with hopes of learning more about marketing from top branding companies so she can create her own consulting business.

Jones said she chose the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media because she was offered a scholarship that paid for all of her studies.

“I’ve always wanted to help people,” she said, “and this degree offered me the most comfortable, yet wide variety of career paths . . .

“I know how far you can go in life and also where you can be limited if you don’t try to reach out beyond, which has motivated me to push past any limitations or standards that others have set for me.”

UM also offered Jones distance from home, but not too far, so she could spread her wings and explore new avenues of school and life, but also go home for a Sunday dinner, she said.

“Teachers like Debbie Woodrick Hall introduced me to PR, and I have been in love ever since . . . ,” she said. “Rachel West was an example of a teacher . . . who will never let you fail yourself. Chris Sparks has prepared me so well for an actual (marketing) campaign . . . Dean (Jennifer) Simmons has gone above and beyond to help me with my degree plan and after graduation transition.”

Jones said the school has helped her build confidence and offered ways to express herself.

“I have stopped being scared of writing and have had the ability to strengthen and showcase these abilities,” she said. “I have learned how to communicate effectively across different audiences.”

Her advice: “Use you college professors, faculty, administration to get the experience you need for your next steps,” she said. “College is only four years, and you have to use them wisely so make sure you make connections that you can rely on from people who want to support you and have your best interest at heart.

“Because in life, the saying is very true, ‘It is not what you know, but who you know!’ Truly, the staff and faculty at the school is who you need to know!”

Hadley Hitson

Birmingham native Hadley Hitson is a journalism major with minors in digital media studies and Spanish who attended Mountain Brook High School before becoming a student at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media.

“Experts in Southern journalism like Curtis Wilkie and Cynthia Joyce have helped me build a steady foundation for my reporting based in ethics, curiosity, empathy and storytelling during my four years at the University of Mississippi,” she said. “Learning from professor Wilkie and professor Charles Overby in their special topics classes and from professor Joyce in her advanced reporting class shaped my understanding of good journalism.”

Hitson said she would not have had the opportunities to intern at places like Fortune magazine, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the White House without having worked at The Daily Mississippian.

Rising from a staff reporter all the way up to managing editor has been the most rewarding experience of her college career, she said.

“I’ve reported on activism in the Oxford community, the causes and effects of record breaking voter registration in Lafayette County, and the state of election security in the South, among other topics,” she said. “With these stories, I was able to win fourth place for Best News Writer in The South and develop great clips for my portfolio.”

Hitson said her career goal is to be a well-respected politics and government reporter — whether that’s for a local paper or national publication.

“During my last semester at the university, I’ve been able to do freelance reporting for Fortune magazine, and I hope to continue freelancing for major outlets post-graduation while pursuing external publication for my honors college thesis ‘Moving the monument: The University of Mississippi’s decades-long journey to relocate its Confederate monument,'” she said.

Her advice for other students is to “stay critical and ask as many questions as you can. I love this university, and in order to keep it progressing, we, as journalists, have to hold Ole Miss and ourselves accountable to UM values.”

Tyler White

Flora native Tyler White is an integrated marketing communications major with a minor in general business and a specialization in social media.

During his freshman and sophomore year, he attended Southwest Mississippi Community College, where he played baseball and was the student body president.

“While in college, I’ve definitely learned the importance of consistency and hard work,” White said. “There are a lot of good brands and experienced workers, but those that put in the most work and don’t give up when speed bumps come their way are the ones that will succeed.

“If you are doing what everyone else is doing, you will get the results everyone else is getting. To be the best, you have to work like the best.

“Whatever I do, I want the best. When I played baseball, I didn’t want to be a catcher; I wanted to be THE catcher. This same principle applies to everything I do in life.”

White plans to attend law school in the fall.

Tyler White

Read Tyler's Story

In an internet age when it’s easy to open shop online and create your own business without a brick and mortar store, Tyler White, an integrated marketing communications major from the small town of Flora in Madison County, Mississippi, is on track to make $100,000 in sales from his custom apparel company TeeWhites this year.

Julia Peoples

Julia Peoples was valedictorian of Puckett High School in Puckett, Mississippi before enrolling in the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media.

The integrated marketing communications major who minored in general business and political science will be attending Yale Law School as a member of the class of 2024.

“My time at the university has been a period of growth and reflection,” she said. “Some of my favorite classes have been ones that push me to challenge myself and think outside of my comfort zone, like Communications Law, Research for IMC, and Creative Visual Thinking.

“I will always be grateful for Professor Sparks in the School of Journalism and New Media, who taught me so much about communicating and connecting with people and has always believed in me. The greatest lessons I have learned throughout this journey are trusting myself and asking for help when needed.”

Her advice: “Enjoy the ride. The past four years have been a roller coaster, but a beautiful one nonetheless.”

Asia Harden

Greenville, Mississippi native Asia Harden, an integrated marketing communications student at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media, plans to attend the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City and pursue a career in editorial publishing or publicity.

She said she chose to become an IMC major because it gave her the freedom to explore writing, marketing, public relations, and graphic design without feeling boxed in.

Harden, who has a minor in Spanish, studied abroad in Granada, Spain for the fall semester in 2019, one of the highlights of her college experience.

“The courses I’ve liked the most have always been the ones that challenged me or stretched my worldview,” she said.

Harden said the greatest impact the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media has had on her has been through the Student Media Center and her work with the Ole Miss yearbook.

“I’ve been one of its writers since freshman year, and this past year, I served as only the second African American editor-in-chief of the publication,” she said. “I’ve grown not only as a storyteller, but also as a leader and young professional through my work with the yearbook. My involvement in such a beloved publication has brought me lots of joy throughout my college experience.”

Her advice: “Be yourself, and chase after your own dreams, not anyone else’s. We only get one life, so it only seems fair to honor it by constantly learning, growing, and living up to our fullest potential. Whether you want to be a lawyer, news anchor, publicist or English teacher, live life on your own terms. And be kind to those around you; the world is full of enough hate as it is.”

Asia Harden in Granada, Spain

Read Asia's Story

Asia Harden, a graduating IMC senior and The Ole Miss yearbook Editor-in-Chief, has been selected for the prestigious Columbia Publishing Course, a six-week summer program in New York City. The program prepares students for entry-level jobs in book, magazine and digital publishing through lectures and workshops.

Matthew Hendley

Matthew Hendley, a Madison, Mississippi native, attended St. Joseph Catholic School before enrolling in the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media.

He was drawn to the journalism program at UM and the campus television station, NewsWatch. He studied broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. 

“My time at UM has been the most outrageous four years of my life,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the opportunities offered at the J-school, I would have never landed an internship with the longest running primetime TV news show (60 Minutes), nor would I have been able to join a UFO cult for a day at the same exact time. 

“The outlets the journalism program (has) took me everywhere I wanted to go – at the desk at NewsWatch Ole Miss, on the ground telling stories in Holly Springs, and even in opposite corners of the country with two consecutive internships in New York City and Phoenix.”

After graduation, Hendley plans to move to Nashville with his band Happy Landing to pursue music while working part time in media and marketing at a non-profit called Shower Up that serves the homeless community by parking mobile shower trucks in public places. 

Matthew Hendley playing guitar.

Read Matthew's Story

Matthew Hendley is always looking for new ways to tell stories – whether that means researching and reporting, being an activist or fronting his band, Happy Landing.

Julia James

Mandeville, Louisiana native Julia James, who studied public policy leadership and journalism, will begin an investigative reporting internship with Mississippi Today after graduation.

“I am extremely excited to be working with and learning from this team of thoughtful and influential journalists,” she said. “I am considering going to graduate school to study data, media, and society issues or going to law school in a few years, but I am excited to first work and gain professional experience.”

James said her experience in the summer Lott Leadership Institute and the personal recruiting she received helped her imagine a future for herself in Oxford and attracted her to the University of Mississippi.

“My last four years held unprecedented challenges globally and personally,” she said. “I feel particularly grateful for the way professors have supported and encouraged me through these events, specifically Vanessa Gregory, Cynthia Joyce and Ellen Meacham.”

James said the most thought-provoking and enlightening courses she took at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media were Writing with Voice (with Professor Gregory) and the Presidency and the Press (with Charles Overby and Curtis Wilkie).

“Writing with Voice helped me expand my understanding of what journalism could be, past rigid AP-wire type stories, giving much more humanity and depth to my storytelling,” she said. “Presidency and the Press really was just so fun, retelling me the history I was familiar with from the perspective of the journalists who lived it.”

Advanced Reporting (with Professor Joyce) was more practical, but it made me do the work of being a journalist in a regular and consistent way, which helped me build confidence in myself and my abilities.”

Her advice: “Be intentional about the stories you choose. It’s hard to make every project be the penultimate project, but just the sheer act of doing your homework can introduce you to unique people and opportunities that can expand your community if you choose wisely.”

Abbey Edmonson

Tupelo native Abbey Edmonson was drawn to the University of Mississippi because it was more of a traditional college experience, and she liked the Sally McDonnel Barksdale Honors College. She also loved Oxford and its artistic history.

The editorial journalism major with minors in English and creative writing earned a specialization in social media.

“My time at UM has offered me so much more than I expected,” she said. “Through my time here, I’ve gained a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities as a writer and journalist.”

One of her favorite courses was Editorial Cartooning with Marshall Ramsey.

“Ramsey is one of the greats, and I was extremely lucky to be able to take his class,” he said. “I have ancestors who were successful editorial cartoonists back in the day, so taking that class was personally really fulfilling to me.”

She also enjoyed classes with professor Cynthia Joyce.

“I took two classes with professor Joyce: Media Ethics and Advanced Reporting,” she said. “Both of those classes taught me skills that I’m going to keep with me in both my professional and personal life.

“I learned that it is okay to ask uncomfortable questions, and it is okay to write about something important, even – or maybe especially – if it makes you uncomfortable.”

Edmonson will soon step down from the job she has held the past two years as Invitation Magazine’s editorial assistant so she can attend graduate school.

“I hope to one day continue to climb the ladder in the magazine and/or publishing industries,” she said. “In the meantime, I’ve been accepted into both Columbia University’s M.S. in Journalism program and Savannah College of Art and Design’s (SCAD’s) M.F.A. in Writing program, and I’ve decided I’m going to SCAD in Atlanta starting this September.”

Edmonson said she hopes to use her time in Atlanta to grow her network and hone her writing skills across multiple forms of media.

“The UM School of Journalism and New Media is here to help its students and offer opportunities for growth,” she said. “I urge other students to take advantage of those outside-of-the-classroom opportunities.

“During my time here, I participated in Lens Collective 2019, took a class in New Orleans and interviewed the mayor, traveled to the Mississippi Coast to write about climate change, connected with people who gave me my dream internship and eventual job, and so much more.”

Edmonson said you can learn a lot in the classroom, but you also gain valuable insight when you get real life experience outside of the classroom.

“When a professor suggests you should apply for something, do it,” she said. “All of those extra hours put into your college experience are the elements that build you up as a journalist and as a person.”

Abbey Edmonson rides in a boat during a recent journalism project that explored climate change in Mississippi. The photo was taken by Billy Schuerman.

Read Abbey's Story

The great-great-granddaughter of a Pulitzer Prize-winning Memphis cartoonist is forging her own path in the journalism world.Tupelo native Abbey Edmonson’s great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather, J. P. Alley and Cal Alley, were editorial cartoonists for the Memphis Commercial Appeal during the early to mid-20th century. J. P. Alley was the first cartoonist at the Appeal, and he won a Pulitzer Prize for journalism in 1923.

University of Mississippi journalism students learn with the best, thanks to donation

Posted on: March 31st, 2021 by ldrucker

Memphis news station WREG-TV donates anchor desk to ‘Ole Miss NewsWatch’ team

To help prepare University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media journalism students for life after graduation, Memphis news station WREG-TV donated its station’s anchor desk to “NewsWatch Ole Miss,” providing a true real-world broadcast journalism experience on campus.

The university’s student-run broadcast news operation, NewsWatch, also serves Oxford and Lafayette County as its only complete local newscast. It airs at noon Wednesdays and Fridays during the academic year.

Brian Barisa, station manager and fourth-year NewsWatch member, said the significance of the desk donation and the partnership with the Memphis news outlet is immeasurable.

Memphis news station WREG-TV donated its station's anchor desk to 'NewsWatch Ole Miss,' the University of Mississippi’s student-run broadcast. Submitted photo

Memphis news station WREG-TV donated its station’s anchor desk to ‘NewsWatch Ole Miss,’ the University of Mississippi’s student-run broadcast. Submitted photo

“This new desk symbolizes the future of NewsWatch and where we will grow in the future,” Barisa said. “This gift allows for us to take leaps and bounds in modernizing our studio and evolving NewsWatch into the current look of TV studios.”

Appearance is not the only thing the future journalists receive while reporting with NewsWatch. Students combine their class knowledge with their on-air experience to learn new techniques in journalism.

“The Ole Miss School of Journalism has taught me storytelling tools and techniques that have helped me through reporting and producing content not just in news-oriented spaces, but also in other outlets of media production,” said Barisa, who plans to continue in the world of collegiate video production after graduation.

Besides producing the student-run broadcast, NewsWatch serves as a learning laboratory and creates opportunities for all students, regardless of experience level.

NewsWatch plays a pivotal role in the complete development of students who are ready to hit the ground running after graduation, said Debora Wenger, interim dean and professor of journalism.

“‘NewsWatch Ole Miss’ is a key part of the hands-on experiential learning, which is a hallmark of our school’s programs,” Wenger said. “Students, whether they are studying integrated marketing communications or journalism, have the opportunity to work for the newscast and a number of public-facing news outlets that are part of our school.

“Students who work for NewsWatch and these other platforms graduate with solid experience on their resumes, which in turn makes them more competitive in the job market.”

The Memphis station not only donates gifts, but sets an example for Ole Miss journalism students and NewsWatch staff members.

“WREG and all of the stations in our area have been wonderful partners in educating our students,” Wenger added. “They hire our graduates, and they are generous with their time and expertise. We can’t thank the station enough for reaching out and providing this donation.”

Ron Walter, WREG general manager, said he is happy to see the desk go to a good home.

“We are proud to support the aspiring young journalists and broadcasters in our area, knowing we may one day work alongside them,” Walter said. “The desk served our anchor teams very well, and we hope it does the same for University of Mississippi journalism students.”

WREG also donated a second station desk to the school for students taking news reporting classes in Farley Hall.

This story was written by Michael Taplin for University Communications. Read the full story here.

University of Mississippi IMC student ‘bridges the gap’ between nonprofits, need

Posted on: March 24th, 2021 by ldrucker

Senior Natalie Pruitt develops website for students to complete assignments listed by nonprofit groups

A University of Mississippi student has created a website to help “bridge the gap” between Mississippi nonprofit organizations and Ole Miss students interested in expanding their resume through community involvement.

Natalie Pruitt, a senior integrated marketing communications major and member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, developed the project as part of her IMC capstone class and Honors College thesis project after noticing the level of need among many nonprofit organizations in the community.

“After researching and interviewing multiple local nonprofit organizations and learning about their need for assistance with projects relating specially to digital marketing and graphic design, I realized there was such untapped potential for UM students to work alongside these organizations,” said Pruitt, from Knoxville, Tennessee.

With that information in mind, Pruitt set out to develop a website exclusively for students interested in digital marketing, graphic design internships and freelance assignments. With this mindset and multiple university connections, UM Creative Connect was born.

“My hope is that a mutually beneficial relationship will form between local North Mississippi nonprofit organizations and UM students,” Pruitt said. “It was a need that I saw a fix to, so I had to try to close that gap in any way I could.”

Natalie Pruitt, a Knoxville, Tennessee native, developed the project as part of her IMC capstone class and Honors College thesis project after noticing the level of need among many nonprofit organizations in the community. Photo by Michael Taplin/University Marketing and Communications

Creative Connect helps connect Ole Miss students to Mississippi nonprofit organizations looking for assistance in a variety of areas such as digital marketing, graphic design and other freelance work. Photo by Michael Taplin/University Marketing and Communications

After two weeks of the website’s launch, seven nonprofit organizations have posted eight job listings with projects ranging from digital marketing, graphic design, social media management, photography and content creation.

Carson Harris, a sophomore integrated marketing communications major from Ocean Springs, was one of the students who applied for a website/graphic design-related job listing. Harris said Creative Connect is a great resource for students to get involved in the community while at Ole Miss.

“Having a resource like this one is crucial for students to succeed,” Harris said. “I applied for both the freelance and internship positions offered by 2nd Chance Mississippi because I find it important for students to succeed outside of the classroom.”

Harris’s perspective on the nonprofit organization is the same as Pruitt’s reasoning to build a website: students need opportunities to demonstrate their skills outside the classroom.

Natalie Pruitt, a Knoxville, Tennessee native, developed the project as part of her IMC capstone class and Honors College thesis project after noticing the level of need among many nonprofit organizations in the community. Photo by Michael Taplin/University Marketing and Communications

Natalie Pruitt, a Knoxville, Tennessee native, developed the project as part of her IMC capstone class and Honors College thesis project after noticing the level of need among many nonprofit organizations in the community. Photo by Michael Taplin/University Marketing and Communications

“This gives me the opportunity to be creative and focus on building upon my skills I have learned in the classroom,” Harris added. “I hope my creativity will help 2nd Chance Mississippi give back to our community.”

Pruitt said the project would not be possible without the nonprofit organizations that expressed interest in the project from the beginning.

“I want to thank the amazing nonprofits and community partners that took time out of their incredibly busy schedules to sit down and talk with me to provide insight into the creation of the website,” Pruitt said.

“Getting to develop relationships with these kind people and see how their lives could be made easier from it made the entire project worthwhile. I really appreciate all of the support the Oxford, Lafayette nonprofit community has given me.”

Participating nonprofit organizations include Mississippi Printers Network, 2nd Chance Mississippi, Boys and Girls Clubs of North Mississippi and Yoknapatawpha Arts Council/Lafayette Oxford-University Chamber of Commerce.

To learn more about UM Creative Connect, visit https://umcreativeconnect.com/ or email creativeconnect@olemiss.edu.

This story was written by Michael Taplin for UM Communications. Click the link to view the original story.

COVID-19 pandemic leads University of Mississippi IMC student to build Blonde Boomerang business

Posted on: March 21st, 2021 by ldrucker

Online shopping has become more popular because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s one reason Kylie Cockrell, a junior Integrated Marketing Communications major, launched her online boutique Blonde Boomerang in January.

There, you can find an organized assortment of turtlenecks, sweater vests, corduroy pants, and even a pink metallic puffer coat. While shopping at Blonde Boomerang, you get a sense of what fashion means to Cockrell.

Cockrell, a Madison, Mississippi native, decided to create an online boutique after working at Arco Avenue, a clothing boutique in Ridgeland near her hometown. During the first few years, she worked the floor, styled customers, paid bills and made purchases, later managing the store. After Cockrell learned what it was like to run a small business, she created the online boutique.

Kylie Cockrell

Kylie Cockrell

Cockrell is on the creative team of Square Magazine at the University of Mississippi. Part of her role is to help with planning and designing photo shoots for the website and social media accounts, and to figure out innovative ways to make each photo shoot unique, whether that is the shoot location or the hair and makeup for the models that correlate with a specific article written by the editorial team.

Being able to incorporate what she has learned from her involvement at Square Magazine and through her IMC fashion promotion and merchandising specialization led Cockrell to create the business.

“I didn’t really know anyone else in college who had started a business or who I could turn to for advice,” she said.

Her previous boss, Katie Miller, at Arco Avenue helped.

When it comes to everyday fashion, Cockrell said her go-to outfit is a pair of straight-legged, light washed jeans, a white button-up shirt and a pair of orange Nike Air Force Ones.

“Those are my prized possession,” she said excitedly.

Cockrell used the time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic to pursue her dream. That allowed her to complete all the necessary business tasks. This involved getting sales permits and tax licenses that took many months. Then Cockrell realized she needed a name for her boutique.

“My mom was actually the one to come up with the name,” she said.

In an Australian Aboriginal language, “Kylie” translates to “boomerang.” Cockrell’s mom, Vicki Welch, thought this would be an innovative business name since Cockrell has blonde hair. Before she knew it, Blonde Boomerang was born, and on Jan. 24, Cockrell officially launched her online boutique.

Welch has supported her in creating Blonde Boomerang. She has seen all the hard work Kylie puts into developing her business.

“She did everything,” Welch said.

From making important phone calls to designing the website and choosing inventory, Cockrell took charge. Welch knew customers would fall in love with Cockrell’s unique sense of style.

“Throughout this whole process, I have seen Kylie become so independent,” she said.

Kylie Cockrell and some of her merchandise.

Kylie Cockrell and some of her merchandise.

Welch said this is the perfect time and age to get involved with something you are passionate about, and to not be afraid to fail while doing so.

“I know she has what it takes to make this business go further,” Welch said.

Cockrell said, “There were so many times I second-guessed myself.”

However, she adopted Miller’s motto, “You never know until you just go for it.”

Although Cockrell was nervous about launching her boutique, she was excited when someone from Connecticut purchased an item from Blonde Boomerang.

“It’s the little things like that that remind me of how glad I am to have started my business,” said Cockrell. “It definitely makes my day.”

As a full-time student taking 18 hours of classes, being involved with Square Magazine, and running an online business, Cockrell said it has taken a lot of self-discipline to stay on top of her everyday tasks.

“The business staying up and running relies solely on me,” she said.

If you are a student who aspires to create your own business, it is important to stay confident and true to yourself. Whatever you are passionate about, make it happen, said Cockrell.

“The more work you put into something you are passionate about, the more benefits you will get in return,” she said. “Once you make that commitment to yourself, you are already one step further towards your goal…You can only go up from there.”

Cockrell aspires to open a physical location for Blonde Boomerang.

“Make it from the ground up, and gradually it will become what you want it to be,” she said.


This story was written by Cloi Bryan for Oxford Stories.

Are you a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student who has created their own business? If so, we want to hear from you. Click this link to share your business story. 

Click this link to learn more about our undergraduate and graduate programs in IMC and Journalism.

What is IMC or Integrated Marketing Communications? Learn more about our bachelor’s and master’s programs

Posted on: March 20th, 2021 by ldrucker

What is Integrated Marketing Communications?

If you are trying to decide on an educational career path, why not choose a versatile major that is important in every field of business?

Experience the dynamic field of IMC at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media. It’s where marketing meets creativity in a future-focused, real-world curriculum.

IMC is about crafting communication across all forms of media to shape brands and influence behaviors.

You can earn a bachelor’s degree and/or a master’s degree in IMC at UM.

Click here to learn more about the IMC bachelor’s degree program, and to apply.

Click here to learn more about the IMC master’s degree program, and to apply.

Rather than focus on one thing, why not choose a major that allows you to do everything?

 

A picture of different forms of media

A picture of different forms of media

 

University of Mississippi journalism team studies Climate Change in Mississippi

Posted on: March 15th, 2021 by ldrucker

Climate Change in Mississippi

Nationally and globally, much of the conversation about climate change has been territorial and political.

In Mississippi, state leaders have spoken of it rarely, if ever. However, the state’s science, industrial, agricultural and energy sectors have been working to address change and devise strategies.

A desire to explore the issue more in-depth led University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professors and students to study the topic within the state. The result is the project Climate Change in Mississippi that focuses on what is, not what if. Practices, not policy.

Jared Poland, left, and Jacob Meyers launch a drone for video of the Steele Bayou Control Structure while working on the Climate Change in Mississippi project.
Jared Poland, left, and Jacob Meyers launch a drone for video of the Steele Bayou Control Structure while working on the Climate Change in Mississippi project.

Journalist and Professor Charlie Mitchell, who helped lead the Climate Change in Mississippi project, said the premise was that too many people have formed opinions about climate change without seeing how it relates to their daily lives. The project aims to report this relevance as a factual resource among political chatter. 

 “Climate change is a super-broad topic and much reporting is along political lines or appeals to emotion,” he said. “The students worked to identify front-line people in Mississippi dealing with change directly or indirectly and tell their stories about what’s happening, what’s being researched and what’s expected. The point was to deal with fact, not speculation or opinion.”

Anderson Jones, left, was interviewed by Climate Change in Mississippi project member Jared Poland about repetitive flooding of Jones' home in the lower Mississippi Delta.
Anderson Jones, left, was interviewed by Climate Change in Mississippi student reporter Jared Poland about repetitive flooding of Jones' home in the lower Mississippi Delta.

Jared Poland, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Chattanooga, plans to work in public relations after graduation at an agency, non-profit, or for a political action committee.

“I saw this class as an opportunity to use my public relations skills to shed light on the effects of climate change felt by everyday Mississippians,” he said. “The depth reporting class gave me the opportunity to spend time creating a series of stories that describe at length the 2019 floods in the Mississippi Delta and how the backwater flooding related to climate change and affected individuals.”

Poland said he immersed himself in the issue, traveling to the Delta twice and spoke with community leaders, locals, a climatologist, and other knowledgeable individuals about the floods and the pumps.

“I was able to see firsthand the hardships they had faced due to the flooding and was able to speak with them about the proposed pump project that almost everyone believed was the solution to the floods,” he said. “I also learned about their lives, their families, their passions and their hardships caused by the floods.”

“Climate change is a super-broad topic and much reporting is along political lines or appeals to emotion,” he said. “The students worked to identify front-line people in Mississippi dealing with change directly or indirectly and tell their stories about what's happening, what's being researched and what's expected. The point was to deal with fact, not speculation or opinion.”
Charlie Mitchell
Journalist and Professor

Students honed their research, interviewing and writing skills and worked to become better at identifying relevant facts and sources, then weaved the information into a understandable and compelling narrative.

Mitchell said the school has a history of producing relevant depth reports on national and international topics ranging from the emerging economy in post-war Sri Lanka to the intersection of good food and poor health in the Mississippi Delta.

“Former Dean Norton identified this topic as crucial, and it was decided students here and students at the University of Nebraska would tackle the topic simultaneously,” he said.

The UM student reporting team included Danielle Angelo, Anne Florence Brown, Lydia Cates, Will Corley, Abbey Edmondson, Cody Farris, Jacob Meyers, Eliza Noe, Jared Poland, Billy Schuerman, Tamara Tyes and Lauren Wilson.

Team advisers included John Baker, Michael Fagans, Charles Mitchell, Will Norton Jr., Darren Sanefski and Hannah Vines.

Jared Poland
Jared Poland

Poland said the most interesting part is it’s an issue that has affected Delta residents since the early 1900s.

“The project that is believed to be the solution to the floods was originally proposed in 1941,” he said. “I was able to speak with individuals who have spent their entire life dealing with floods and fighting for solutions to prevent them.

“As someone deeply interested in politics, I was fascinated by the pumps project and the political discourse and conflicts that have unfolded surrounding it, including the EPA’s veto of the project in 2008. It has been a heavily contested political issue and remains one today.”

Poland said others who take the course should use it as an opportunity to deeply explore the topic.

“It was the first project of this size I have ever taken on, but with the help of my instructors, it truly was one of my favorite experiences during my time at Ole Miss,” he said.

William Schumerman
William Schumerman

William Schuerman is a senior journalism major with a print emphasis and an environmental studies minor.

“I enrolled in the class because, after I heard about the project, I knew there would be an opportunity to produce content about a subject I am very passionate about,” he said.

Schuerman, who hopes to work as a photojournalist and be published in National Geographic someday, said the class was different from other classes. He traveled across the state helping other students create multimedia.

“Projects like this are where I have learned the most in my time at the University of Mississippi, so it was a logical step forward for me,” he said. “… I feel that I always learn more when working in the field than purely sitting in the classroom.”

Professor Michael Fagans, a project adviser, said he tried to ask questions to get students thinking about how to better cover their story area and how to tell it with infographics, photos or illustrations.

“As with many of our ‘outside the classroom’ reporting opportunities, students learn valuable lessons when they get out into Mississippi and meet, interview and tell the stories of our residents,” he said.

Providing feedback and encouragement leads to growth, Fagans said.

“I hope that our students were able to gain insight into how to be better journalists, what kind of effort can go into a project and the value of getting out ‘into the field,’ sometimes, quite literally,” he said.

“I hope that, because of this project, people recognize that climate change is real and it is causing real repercussions, even in Mississippi. Mississippi is rural and not nearly as populated as other areas of the country that are experiencing major effects of climate change. So I feel like it often gets overlooked in the big picture of climate change."
Abby Edmonson
Abby Edmonson
STUDENT JOURNALIST
Abby Edmonson
Abbey Edmonson

Abbey Edmonson, a senior journalism major with minors in English and creative writing and an emphasis in social media, said she was curious about the effects of climate change in our state.

Her focus was on saltwater aquaculture on the Gulf Coast, where she traveled with Fagans and Schuerman.

“Throughout the trip, we interviewed several people who are involved in the commercial fishing industry, specifically the oyster industry,” she said. “We toured the last oyster-shucking house in Mississippi, watched how oysters are bred, and rode a boat out to an oyster farm. That trip is something I’ll hold onto forever because we got to interact firsthand with people who are experiencing real issues as a direct result of climate change.”

Climate Change Website
Climate Report Website

She said students also interviewed people about possible solutions in the works, which “added a bright spot to an otherwise disheartening situation.”

“I hope that, because of this project, people recognize that climate change is real, and it is causing real repercussions, even in Mississippi,” she said. “Mississippi is rural and not nearly as populated as other areas of the country that are experiencing major effects of climate change. So I feel like it often gets overlooked in the big picture of climate change.

“I wanted to learn more about it, because I honestly didn’t know much about it to begin with. I also wanted to be able to tell people about the changes that are visibly happening and, I think, are underrepresented in the media. Everything is so interconnected, and it’s important to recognize that when one area gets affected by climate change, other areas will follow.”

To learn more about the project and read student work, visit the Climate Change in Mississippi website.