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UM’s 2021 Homecoming King and Queen have studied journalism and IMC

Posted on: October 14th, 2021 by ldrucker

Congratulations to the 2021 University of Mississippi Homecoming King and Queen, who have both taken classes in journalism and integrated marketing communications (IMC) at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media.

Students Kenzee Blount and Bradford Stewart were voted as Ole Miss royalty.

Bradford Stewart is a Birmingham native studying IMC.

She started a fashion blog with her sisters called Poema, Spanish for poem, that was inspired by a Bible verse, and she dreams of turning the blog into a clothing store with her sisters, according to a story in The Daily Mississippian.

Homecoming King and Queen, from left, Bradford Stewart and Kenzee Blount. Photo from the Ole Miss social media account.

Homecoming King and Queen, from left, Bradford Stewart and Kenzee Blount. Photo from the Ole Miss social media account.

Stewart is involved in the Rebelettes and The Grove Retreat, a Christian-based student organization that welcomes incoming freshmen to Oxford. Her older sister founded the group. Stewart is also involved in Tri Delta sorority, serving as membership experience chair. You can read the full story at this link. 

Blount is a senior in the School of Business Administration who is earning a bachelor’s of business administration in general business. He has taken journalism classes and written for Oxford Stories.

Blount was co-director for special events for the Active Minds organization, and he served as a learning and engagement ambassador, MPower peer leader, director of Rebel Run, and as an orientation leader, according to a DM story. You can read more about the Independence, Mississippi native below.

University of Mississippi Internship Experience leads Ayers to New York City

Posted on: October 6th, 2021 by ldrucker

Memphis native Molly Ayers, 21, is a senior integrated marketing communications (IMC) major with a minor in general business. She recently gave a presentation during the University of Mississippi Internship Experience. We asked her a few questions about the event and her goals.

Q. What is the UM Internship Experience for those who don’t know? What story did you share about yourself during this event?

A: The Internship Experience is a preparatory class that provides a support system and resources to help with the internship search. For the first semester, we spent the majority of our time on resume work and LinkedIn. We researched the cities we aimed to work in and began compiling a list of possible companies to work for.

When applications opened up, the IE staff helped us with cover letters, interview prep and sent opportunities our way. It was actually Dr. Kristina Phillips who sent me the application for the internship I ended up getting. Additionally, the IE program already had housing picked out in each city, so it took a ton of pressure off me while I was working on my applications. I was the only student who chose NYC as a location, so I was a bit nervous about living up there for a couple of months on my own.

Dr. Laura Antonow, Gabby Coggin, and Dr. Phillips kept in constant contact with me as I was making decisions and planning my trip. Dr. Antonow stayed up in the city for several days to help me get adjusted, which was such a lifesaver.

Molly Ayers leans agains a brick wall.

Molly Ayers

Q. What have been some of your favorite journalism and IMC classes?

A. My favorite IMC class I’ve taken is 104 with Scott Fiene and 306 with Brad Conaway. As a freshman in IMC 104,  Scott Fiene introduced the concept of IMC to me in a way that made me absolutely sure this is the major I wanted to pursue.

IMC 306 with professor Conaway was about internet marketing. We used a social media marketing simulator all semester, and I consider it to be one of the most valuable projects in my college career so far. Jour 273 Creative Visual Thinking was by far my favorite in that department. Professor Joe Abide’s class gave me a completely new set of skills including design and Photoshop. His class is definitely the reason I still pay for an Adobe subscription two years later.

Q. What are your plans or goals for the future? Dream job?

A: When I graduate, I’d love to continue my work for GAPPA (Global Alliance of Partners for Pain Advocacy). I think they have such a strong, important mission and so much room to grow as an organization. Something I learned about myself this summer is that I love talking to people with unique stories and being able to share them. That being said, I think I’d consider promotional marketing for nonprofits my dream job. My goals for the future mostly involve traveling the world (which is where a remote job would be convenient) but eventually, I know I want to move to NYC.

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.