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Former Saturday Night Live head comedy writer brings The Heartbreak Henry to Oxford

Posted on: July 27th, 2021 by ldrucker

David Sheffield, who went on to write for “Saturday Night Live” and various Eddie Murphy movies, has taken to the stage with his comedy The Heartbreak Henry, based on his experiences as manager of an Oxford flophouse hotel in 1967.

The Theatre Oxford production runs August 12-15, with a preview Aug. 11 at the Gertrude C. Ford Performing Arts Center in the Mary Ann Mobley/Gary E. Collins Studio Theatre. Tickets can be purchased through the Ford Center Box office at (662) 915-7411

The production is co-sponsored by the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media.

The Heartbreak Henry poster designed by Hannah Vines.

The Heartbreak Henry poster designed by Hannah Vines.

“The School of Journalism and New Media agreed to co-sponsor the production to provide opportunities for students to hone their professional skills,” said professor Kathleen Wickham. “Assistant Professor Michael Fagans joined the project to produce a documentary, with students Margaret Bushway, Alexander Norris,  Tucker Robbins and Billy Schuerman. It was also an opportunity for me to refresh my professional skills in a new venue, having worked in public relations at one point in my professional career.”

Wickham said she was drawn to The Heartbreak Henry after seeing it in Biloxi in 2018 at the Center Theatre because of its treatment of the people who resided in the hotel in all their quirky, contentious and confused characters.

“David Sheffield was an innocent freshman, just 19 years old, who was so cash-strapped he hitched-hiked to campus from southern Mississippi,” she said. “He landed a job at The Henry Hotel as a theatre major and had compassion for his tenants. It was that humanity that attracted me to this project and why I worked to bring it to Oxford.”

The Henry Hotel was built in 1920. In 1967, rooms cost $4.50 a night, $5.50 with a bath in the room. There were 30 guest rooms. There were no in-room telephones, just a payphone in the lobby.

The Henry became a residential hotel in the 1970s with rooms renting for $45 a month. Later, the building was turned into the Abbey Apartments. Since 2015, the concrete building with its gable and hip roof, box cornice, molded frieze and closed gable ends has been home to Rafter’s bar.

The play features some of the cranky, contentious and confused characters who frequented the run-down hotel during Sheffield’s tenure as manager. Sheffield was a freshman at The University of Mississippi during the time. Rooms cost $4.50, there was a payphone for guests in the lobby, and to his horror, he had to evict two waitresses with illegal social side gigs on a snowy Christmas Eve.

“This story happened about 50 years ago,” said Sheffield, who lives near Laurel. “I met a bunch of characters I couldn’t get out of my mind. At the Henry, the unexpected was the norm.”

The show is also supported through grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Ford Center and the Clancy Collins fund, as well as community donors.

“I went to Ole Miss for an education, but the real education took place at the Henry Hotel,” Sheffield said. “I saw things at the Henry I never saw at home.”

Sheffield was co-screenwriter of the Coming To/2 America movies, The Nutty Professor, Boomerang, and other Eddie Murphy movies, but he never forgot his stint at the Henry Hotel. With The Heartbreak Henry, Sheffield is returning full circle to Oxford where his career as a comedy writer began.

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.

Taking a Swing at Journalism: UM journalism student is part of NCAA championship golf team

Posted on: June 3rd, 2021 by ldrucker

Taking a Swing at Journalism

When she was around 2, Smilla Sønderby’s mother took her on a stroll as her father played golf. When he accidentally hit a golf ball into the water nearby, the baby in the stroller could not contain her laughter, chuckling so loudly at the sight, the moment became a defining memory.

“That was my first golf experience,” said Sønderby, who was given plastic clubs that year. When she was 4, her parents coincidentally built a house next to a golf course.

“I basically grew up on a golf course,” Sønderby said. “And then I became a member when I was 4 because I was at the club all the time.”

Smilla Sonderby
Smilla Sonderby - Ole Miss Women’s Golf Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics Twitter and Instagram: @OleMissPix

Sønderby, a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student, slowly developed a love for golf and began competing in tournaments. She is one of the members of the Ole Miss Women’s Golf team, which recently defeated Oklahoma State 4-1 to win the 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship. The team competed May 21-26 in Scottsdale, Arizona, at Grayhawk Golf Club.

After flying home to Denmark following the tournament, Sønderby went to bed early, woke up the next day, worked out at the gym, and played 18 holes, proving her dedication to the sport.

The freshmen journalism major with plans to minor in psychology has been a member of the Danish Ladies’ National Team since 2019. She joined the Danish Girls’ National Team in 2017 and has competed in two European Girls’ Team Championships and one European Nations’ Cup. Sønderby has had 17 Top 10 finishes in 32 events from 2017 to 2019, according to her Ole Miss Athletics bio.

Sønderby competed in her first golf tournament at age 10. She attended the Danish Golf Academy and at 15, she became part of the national team and the junior squad in Denmark, playing in two European team championships. After finishing primary school, through grade nine in Denmark, she attended a sports boarding school.

“I basically moved out when I was 16,” she said.

While attending high school, she became part of the ladies golf team in Denmark, and played in European team championships and many international tournaments.

She admired a fellow player, who attended college at Oregon State University, so Sønderby began thinking about moving to the United States to attend college.

“I wrote to, I think, 25 colleges in the states,” she said. “Some colleges reached out to me because they had seen me play out in Europe.

Smilla Sonderby
Smilla Sonderby - Ole Miss Women’s Golf Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics Twitter and Instagram: @OleMissPix

Head coach Kory Henkes traveled to watch Sønderby play in a Portugal tournament. Then Sønderby visited the University of Mississippi and three other schools before choosing UM.

For the next two and a half months, Sønderby said she will be in Denmark and playing in three or four international tournaments.

“I have a tournament this week,” she said. “So I’m going to Copenhagen tomorrow to play in a tournament over the weekend.”

She will continue to compete in tournaments every weekend this summer except for five days when she will take a break and visit a friend in Poland. She practices every day. On the day of this interview, she had practiced with her coach for four hours.

Debora Wenger, interim dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media, said it’s an honor to have a member of a national championship sports team in our midst.

“Students in our school are always doing amazing things — earning the highest of academic honors or launching great careers — but we don’t get too many winning NCAA championships,” Wenger said with a laugh. “Of course, we are proud of Smilla and her talents both on and off the course.”

Sønderby said she’s always been interested in writing to express herself and reflect on her life and experiences. She hopes to have a golf career for the next 20 years, then become a sports writer, so she is pursuing that goal in the UM School of Journalism and New Media.

“I was actually really good at writing in Danish, and my teacher told me when I graduated, that she wouldn’t be surprised if she saw me in one of the big newspapers one day as a journalist,” she said. “I was like I’m pretty sure I’m going to be a golf player. But then, you know, I just kept writing.”

Since English is her second language, Sønderby said she was initially concerned about choosing journalism as a major.

“I was a little worried, you know, my freshman year if I could express myself, in the same way writing in another language,” she said. “But I think I’m doing OK.”

Wenger said the school’s international students enrich our programs.

“Their lived experiences help open others’ eyes to the global nature of journalism and integrated marketing communications,” she said. “ One of the things we’d love to do is offer more scholarships for international students, and we hope to make that a priority in the coming years.”

To learn more about our journalism and integrated marketing communications programs, visit this link.

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.

University of Mississippi IMC major picked as national student representative for Lamda Sigma honor society

Posted on: May 18th, 2021 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi junior has been selected to serve as a national student representative for Lambda Sigma, a national honor society for sophomores.

Margaret “Maggie” Walker, a dual public policy leadership and integrated marketing communications major from Suwanee, Georgia, was chosen to be the primary liaison between the national board and all Lambda Sigma presidents.

She will be in charge of facilitating communication among and between the chapter presidents, as well as assisting with the coordination of the Presidents Conferences. As a voting member of the national board, Walker will participate in the discussion and decision-making processes.

Maggie Walker

Maggie Walker

“I am immensely honored to have been chosen to serve Lambda Sigma as a national student representative,” said Walker, who will serve for two years, attend two summer board meetings and two fall President Conferences.

“I look forward to embracing the opportunities to connect with students and adults alike that share an enthusiasm for fellowship, scholarship and service. I know that these connections will be ones of depth and longevity.”

A Stamps Scholar, Walker is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Trent Lott Leadership Institute. As president of the university’s Iota Chapter of Lambda Sigma, Walker’s primary responsibility was to facilitate effective communication with the rest of the executive board and the chapter as a whole, and to ensure the mission of Lambda Sigma was advanced.

She booked speakers, planned and led bimonthly meetings, and communicated with chapter adviser Jacob Ferguson and Lambda Sigma nationals.

Beyond these responsibilities, Walker also worked closely with chapter co-service chairs and the secretary to organize numerous service and fellowship opportunities. These included writing Valentine’s Day letters for local teachers, decorating pumpkins for Breast Cancer Awareness Month for the Baptist Cancer Center, donating to the Jackson water crisis and planting trees with Hill Country Roots.

Under Walker’s leadership, nearly all the members were involved in RebelTHON, the Big Event and other Ole Miss service and leadership organizations.

“As I approached the end of my tenure as president of the Iota Chapter, I found myself never wanting the experience to end,” Walker said. “Seeing the passion and impact of our Iota Chapter was beyond inspiring. Serving as a student representative means I can aid in fostering this shared passion for change throughout the country.”

Walker said the organization has influenced her immensely on a local level, and that she can only imagine how these service, leadership and fellowship experiences will affect her on a national level over the next two years.

Maggie Walker makes a heart sign while wearing a T-shirt that says Oxford Love

Maggie Walker.

“Serving this chapter has opened my eyes to the power student leaders have when they come together for a shared vision of service,” Walker said. “Not only have I been able to facilitate service initiatives and assist our members in catalyzing community change, but I have been able to connect with our member’s passions, stories and aspirations.

“Working with the executive board has been an honor in itself, as I have had the opportunity to grow closer to some incredible student leaders.”

Walker has been a model president and will represent the university well as a student representative, Ferguson said.

“Maggie made my job as adviser easy because I could always count on her to take initiative, make plans and execute meetings, service opportunities and her presidential duties,” said Ferguson, an admissions counselor with the School of Education. “This was even more impressive considering that Maggie and the executive board had to juggle COVID-19 restrictions, hybrid meetings and limited in-person service opportunities.

“I am so proud of the work that Maggie has done and overseen in the past year, and I know that she will excel as a national student representative.”

Walker said that the key to the chapter’s success has been working through unprecedented times together, and continuous open, honest and collaborative communication. This year, the members established Lambda Sigma family groups and threw a Fellowship Field Day.

Through these events, the chapter grew closer by fostering genuine relationships absent of school and personal stressors.

“They made my job significantly easier and stood by me throughout the entire year,” Walker said. “I am forever thankful for their hard work.”

For more information about Lambda Sigma, click here.

To learn more about the School of Journalism and New Media’s journalism and IMC programs, visit our website.

This story was written by Edwin Smith for University Communications.

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 graduate encouraged to reach beyond boundaries

Posted on: April 27th, 2021 by ldrucker

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.

He credited the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media for helping him hone his passion for storytelling and new adventures into a skill he’s able to use today.

Matthew Hendley playing guitar.

Matthew Hendley playing guitar.

“Matthew was one of those students who was incredibly bright and talented the day he walked in the door,” said Debora Wenger, interim dean of the journalism school. “I think that more than anything, we tried to give him opportunities and put opportunities in his path that let him grow into the extraordinarily talented journalist and scholar he is today.”

Hendley spent the last four years jumping on every new opportunity the journalism school put in front of him. He provided play-by-play coverage for UM sports on Rebel Radio and reported for NewsWatch.

You can read the full story written by JB Clark in the University of Mississippi’s Journey to Commencement series.

Young entrepreneur among 2021 IMC graduates on track for six figure success

Posted on: April 23rd, 2021 by ldrucker

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.

The young entrepreneur has operated several of his own businesses, including TeeWhites – Custom Apparel and Tyler White Productions, while enrolled as a University of Mississippi student.

“I’ve used the skills I’ve learned from IMC to grow and market my custom apparel company quite big in just a few years,” he said.

TeeWhites offers custom T-shirts, apparel and promotional products. White works with companies offering full-service screen printing, embroidery services, presale hosting, warehousing and fulfillment services.

Tyler White

Tyler White

He also operates Tyler White Productions, a professional wedding videography and photo booth rental service that offers instant text message photo delivery.

White landed a job as the social media manager for a multimillion-dollar global company that offers blockchain-enabled financial services to the mobile generation, providing consumers with ways to buy and protect bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

“I started out at a community college playing baseball,” White said. “During my freshman year of college while playing baseball and school, I landed a gig doing marketing for BRD, the first Bitcoin app in the App Store now valued at over $100 million dollars. I fell in love with marketing and switched from political science to IMC. Best decision I ever made.”

“Having the opportunity to take what I was learning in class and go to a huge company where I was empowered to make decisions on my own and control key consumer touchpoints that reach 7 million users was incredible. I would go to class in Farley, learn something new, and the very next day, implement it at work. I work with ad agencies to decide where our $250,000 a month budget goes for advertising.”

Launched in 2015, and headquartered in Zurich (Switzerland), BRD is a venture-backed company that has raised $56 million U.S. dollars from investors focused on banking, FinTech, and the blockchain, according to a company news release.

White attended Tri-County Academy in Flora for high school, as well as Southwest Mississippi Community College where he was student body president.

White has been an Ole Miss fan his entire life with family ties to the university. His great-granduncle is Bruiser Kinard, the first All-American Football Player, who went on to become a coach and athletic director.  He is also related to Billy Kinard, who was head coach at Ole Miss from 1971-1973.

“My time at Ole Miss has been very enjoyable,” White said. “From academics to a social life, there is no place on earth like Oxford, Mississippi. I love this place so much.”

A Taylor Medalist with a 4.0 GPA, White has been on the Chancellor’s List every semester. His college career includes many accolades, honors and academic organizations.

Tyler White

Tyler White

Some of his favorite courses at UM have included:

  • IMC 391: Public Relations with Debbie Hall, instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications;
  • JOUR 101: Media, News & Audience with Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center, professor and Hederman Lecturer;
  • JOUR 273: Creative Visual Thinking with Emily Bowen-Moore, instructional assistant professor of media design;
  • JOUR 371: Communications Law with Charles Mitchell, associate professor;
  • IMC 455, a capstone class in which you work with a real client taught by Chris Sparks, instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications.

Bowen-Moore said White stood out in her class as a kind, understanding and diligent student.

“His work was/is always on-point and very organized,” she said. “I still use his student work as strong examples to share with other students each semester. I will always respect his steadfast approach to learning.”

Husni remembers White as “a smart, attentive and engaging student who was always professionally dressed as if he treated his classes like a business. Top of class.”

This fall, White will be attending the University of Mississippi School of Law.

“Ideally, I’d like to get a job practicing law for several years, then eventually become a CMO of a big tech company,” he said.

White said the School of Journalism and New Media has great academics that are relevant for anyone pursing a degree in journalism or IMC.

“However, more than that, within the school, you find some of the best professors on planet Earth,” he said. “These professors aren’t just there to teach you, they are there to get to know you personally and help you meet your goals.

“Nearly every professor in the school also has work experience specific to the subject they are teaching, which allows them to pull real life experiences they had while working in the space. To me, this is invaluable. To anyone considering a degree in IMC, I cannot recommend it enough. An IMC degree is a great foundation for your future and can open up so many doors.”

White said he’s learned the importance of consistency and hard work.

“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,” he said. “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.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.