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Meek School is proud of its two Miss America contestants

Posted on: September 8th, 2018 by ldrucker

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media faculty and students were rooting specifically for two Miss America contestants when the pageant aired Sunday, Sept. 9, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

While Miss Mississippi Asya Branch and Miss Tennessee Christine Williamson, both who have Meek School ties, were not selected among the final 15 contestants, Meek School leaders were proud that they represented the Meek School and the University of Mississippi in the competition.

Branch, a University of Mississippi junior, is a current Meek School student. According to her pageant bio on the Miss America website, Branch said the competition empowered her to embrace her past while helping children of an incarcerated parent find their way.

“Having the backbone and financial base of our family stripped away through incarceration and arrest left me hurt, confused, scared, bullied, and withdrawn,” she said. “Through the Miss America Organization, I have been able to face my fears and insecurities brought on by my father’s imprisonment. Now, I am boldly working to help other children who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances fulfill their greatest potential and realize they have an uninhibited future.”

Williamson, 22, attended UM and the Meek School as a broadcast journalism major. While at Ole Miss, she was a news anchor for NewsWatch.

According to Williamson’s pageant bio, she is an advocate for Alzheimer’s because she has lost four family members to the disease, including her grandfather, who she helped her mother take care of for 11 years.

“I watched the lengthy demise of someone I loved, and vowed to be a catalyst for change,” she said. “As a National Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Association, I have lobbied U.S. and state congressional leaders for three years on Alzheimer’s initiatives. I have raised $25,000 for Alzheimer’s Association to help the 5.7 million Americans and their caregivers fighting America’s most expensive disease.”

Meek School leaders also helped lead a Miss America watch party sponsored by the Student Activities Association inside the Student Union ballroom. Debbie Hall, a Meek School instructional assistant professor, said the watch party was organized to give UM students a way to celebrate the Meek School’s two Miss America contestants. Refreshments and games were offered.

Hall said the Meek School’s Event Planning class conducted a fundraiser for the two contestants’ platforms prior to the pageant as a way of recognizing and honoring them.

Students, faculty and alumni were encouraged to use the hashtag:  #MeekMissAmerica Sunday night.

“I think this is just a further indication of the quality students we have in our Meek School programs,” Hall said.

Meek School professor meets with Ethiopian leaders in Washington, D.C.

Posted on: September 6th, 2018 by ldrucker

Dr. Zenebe Beyene, a Meek School of Journalism and New Media instructional assistant professor and coordinator of international programs (second from left), is pictured with Dr. Oyvind Aadland, a representative of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, and Ethiopian leaders at a meeting on nation-building in the Charles L. Overby Boardroom at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Participants were primarily from the East Coast: New York, Virginia, Maryland and D.C. with one each from Memphis, Atlanta and North Carolina. They are lawyers, IT experts, software developers, political scientists, economists, a graphic designer, theologians, etc.

The  Meek School is grateful to the Freedom Forum for making the boardroom available. The boardroom is named for Charles Overby, a graduate of Ole Miss.

Meek School students head to Atlantic City to cover Miss America pageant

Posted on: September 5th, 2018 by ldrucker

It’s one of the nation’s biggest public speaking jobs, and two contestants with Meek School of Journalism and New Media ties will be competing for the title of Miss America this week.

Three Meek School students and a professor will also be reporting live from the pageant that will air Sunday, Sept. 9, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Read Miss Mississippi Asya Danielle Branch’s Miss America profile.

Read Miss Tennessee Christine Williamson’s Miss America profile.

Read the profiles of all Miss America 2019 contestants.

They’ll be rooting for Miss Mississippi Asya Branch, a University of Mississippi junior, who is a current Meek School student; and Miss Tennessee Christine Williamson, 22, who attended the Meek School as a broadcast journalism major. While at Ole Miss, Williamson was a news anchor for NewsWatch.

Dr. Iveta Imre, a professor of visual storytelling, is taking three students to Atlantic City to cover the event.

“The three students, Brian Barisa, Bryanna Bynum, and Sara Doan, will be working on stories about the girls for The Daily Mississippian, Newswatch, and Hotty Toddy,” Imre said.

The Meek School group left on Wednesday, and they will be staying through Saturday covering all activities leading up to the main pageant on Sunday.

“We applied for and received press passes, and we are planning to cover the preliminaries, other activities such as the Shoe Parade on Saturday, as well as create stories about road Rebs who are going to Atlantic City to support Asya,” Imre said.

Imre said she hopes the students learn from the experience.

“I am hoping that the students will experience reporting under pressure and on deadline as we will be Skyping live for Newswatch every night, as well as creating stories to meet DM’s and Newswatch’s daily deadlines,” she said. “We are trying to anticipate and prepare for the events, but many decisions will have to me made once we arrive on location.”

Imre said she hopes the students will create contacts with other journalists covering the pageant, and learn from observing.

“I think that it is phenomenal and pretty unusual, and I am happy this is happening as I am starting my first semester as a professor at Meek school,” Imre said. “No matter what happens on Sunday, I think this is already a great success for our girls.”

Meek School leaders are also helping lead a Miss America watch party sponsored by the Student Activities Association. The pageant will air at 8 p.m. CST on ABC. The watch party will be held at the same time inside the Student Union ballroom. All are invited.

Debbie Hall, a Meek School instructional assistant professor, said the watch party will give UM students a way to celebrate the Meek School’s two Miss America contestants. Refreshments and games will also be offered.

“When we first started talking about the Meek School sponsoring a watch party, it was to be sure that we honored the two Ole Miss contestants,” Hall said. “However, we did not want to compete with a campus-wide event. Therefore, we are encouraging our students and faculty to attend the SAA event.

“We are especially excited that the two contestants represent the Meek School. Miss Tennessee Christine Williams graduated in May as a broadcast journalism major. Asya Branch is a current IMC major.”

Hall said the Meek School’s Event Planning class will be conducting a fundraiser for the two contestants’ platforms as a way of recognizing and honoring them.

“Asya’s platform is Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents,” Hall said, “and Christine’s is the Alzheimer’s Association. We will be seeking donations to split between the two platforms.”

Hall said the class will use the hashtag:  #MeekMissAmerica. Donations can be made for one platform or the other, or both platforms. Donors will be given a “Team Christine” or “Team Asya” sticker to wear.

“What are the odds?” Hall said, that two Meek School students are in the pageant. “More seriously, I think this is just a further indication of the quality students we have in our Meek School programs.”

Meek School welcomes students back to Farley Hall

Posted on: August 20th, 2018 by ldrucker

Meek School students are back in school. The halls of Farley Hall are no longer quiet and empty.

Shannon McElvain, 19, is an integrated marketing communications major. She said she’s taking an IMC writing class this semester she is excited about.

“I took the intro class last semester and some writing classes too,” she said. “We’re going to be learning a lot about what we learned last year in the intro class and incorporating writing into it in different ways. The whole focus of the class is writing and IMC.”

 

McElvain

McElvain, a sophomore, said her goal this semester is to learn as much as possible about IMC and improve her writing skills.

“I chose IMC because it’s a very broad major, and I can do a lot of different things with it,” she said. “When I’m older in a couple of years, I’ll probably figure out exactly what I want to do. Right now, I’m still in the stages of figuring that out.”

Ethel Mwedziwendira, 22, is a journalism major and political science minor who said she is excited about the capstone class she is taking this semester.

“I’m really excited about using all of the skills I’ve learned thus far, incorporating everything including digital,” she said.

Mwedziwendira

Mwedziwendira said the Journalism Innovation class is a combination of writing and photojournalism. Her goal this semester is to stay focused and find balance between school work and involvements.

“And not overworking myself,” she said.

Coleman Hobson, 21, is an IMC major. His favorite class this semester involves campaign marketing.

“It seems interesting,” he said, adding that he hopes to eventually land a job that involves music and marketing.

Hobson

Hobson said his goal this semester is to make As and Bs.

Miracle

Megan Miracle, 21, was also found in Farley. The hospitality management major said she’s taking a lodging class this semester.

“I think it just goes into the lodging industry and hotels and stuff,” she said.  “My family is in that industry, so it should be kind of interesting.”

She said she’s also excited about taking a nutrition class this semester.

Meek School alumna credits Ole Miss with helping her win Miss Tennessee

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ldrucker

Meek School of Journalism and New Media alumna Christine Williamson has spent countless hours with children of the Children’s Miracle Network. Christine’s passion for helping others is a big part of why she won Miss Tennessee, said her sister, Christal Williamson.

“She really cares about the children there,” said Christal, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Tennessee.

She touched the heart and changed the life of one child so much that when the child passed away, the parents asked Christine to sing at the funeral.

“It was really hard for her to keep it together,” Christal said.

Christine Williamson, 22, grew up in Memphis. After high school, she attended UM as a broadcast journalism major. While at Ole Miss, she was a news anchor for NewsWatch and a member of Phi Mu sorority.

After graduating in 2017, she enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to pursue a master’s degree in business with a certification in data analytics, which she has put on hiatus for now.

She began competing for Miss Tennessee just five years ago. The first year, she was Miss Memphis and didn’t make the top 15. Then she was named Miss Smoky Mountains the next year and jumped all the way to earning second runner-up.

Her third year, she fell back slightly as Miss Mountain Empire by getting third runner-up. Last year, she was able to get first runner-up as Miss Scenic City. Finally, she won the title this year as Miss Chattanooga.

“It was five years of determination and hard work,” Christine said. “Lots of hurt and disappointment, but there were a lot of reflection and understanding that it’s not about instant gratification. It’s about what you learn on the way to achieving your goal.”

As Miss Chattanooga, Christine served as a Tennessee congressional advocate and national ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association, raising more than $25,000 for the association. She is also a Tennessee State Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Her experiences at Ole Miss have stayed with her along the way, giving her skills that helped her become Miss Tennessee.

“I’m glad that my undergraduate degree at Ole Miss gave me the on-camera skills for my job as Miss Tennessee,” Christine said. “Going forward, I know how to use those media skills and know how to best promote the issues that I care about.”

Additionally, the close friends she made during her time at UM continue to provide encouragement and support.

“I was really shocked at when I worked at NewsWatch at how much it became like an entire second family and how supportive they’ve been through all of it,” she said.

Her Phi Mu sisters have provided an enormous extended family as well.

Most of all, Christine said, her family has supported her on this journey, and they were able to celebrate when she finally won the Miss Tennessee crown.

“My mom has been my biggest cheerleader and friend through the process, and Christal, my little sister, definitely has been, too,” she said. “My sister was squalling her eyes out … so it showed me how much it meant to her.”

“I was really excited, but mostly excited for her to see her fulfill this goal,” said her mom, Carol.

“I love cheering her on,” Christal said.

Her family continues to provide love, support and encouragement as she prepares for the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They understand all the hard work and effort she has put into the contest, such as going to the gym, practicing speeches and more, because they competed in a few pageants as well.

Christal won Miss Banana Pudding Outstanding Teen in Dickson, Tennessee, Miss Collierville Outstanding Teen and Miss Delta Fair. One year, their mom even competed for Miss Tennessee.

Christine said if she was to be named Miss America, her focus would remain on a few key topics: to spread awareness of Alzheimer’s and the Children’s Miracle Network, in addition to character education.

The children and their families at the CMN hospitals have shaped her life, she said.

“I want to really focus on them and give them my everything,” she said. “They’re so strong, brave and courageous, and the families have really changed my life. I’m really excited to spend more time with them hands-on.”

The Miss America pageant is set for Sept. 5-9 in Atlantic City. The final night of the competition will be televised at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Besides Williamson, Asya Branch, a rising junior majoring in integrated marketing communications at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at UM, was crowned Miss Mississippi and also will compete for the Miss America title.

This article was written by Kendall Patterson of UM Communications.

For more information about the University of Mississippi, visit http://news.OleMiss.edu. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Meek School students attend NABJ convention in Detroit

Posted on: August 3rd, 2018 by ldrucker

Assistant Dean Pat Thompson and students Erin Pennington and Ethel Mwedziwendira are representing the University of Mississippi Association of Black Journalists at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Detroit from Aug. 1-5.

They are attending workshops and panels, meeting with media job recruiters, and networking with alumni. Here they are with alumnus Jesse Holland on Thursday, following his participation on a luncheon panel titled “The Power of Black Panther and Creating Positive Images in the Media.”

Highlights of the convention include a newsmaker plenary on Journalism Driven by Technology and Innovation; a panel on When Arts Meets Activism featuring movie actresses, directors and entertainment editors; a town hall on diversity; a “master class” on entrepreneurship and branding with Tyler Perry; workshops on data reporting, social media in the newsroom, covering the migration crisis, visual journalism, sports journalism, digital content; professional training sessions by CNN, CBS and other media; interviews with authors of books just released; screenings of new films and TV shows; awards ceremonies.

NABJ with Chance the Rapper

Recruiters from all major media are recruiting students and professionals for jobs and hosting receptions. Jemele Hill of ESPN’s The Undefeated is NABJ’s Journalist of the Year.

With Miss Mississippi crown, Meek School student preps for Miss America stage

Posted on: July 31st, 2018 by ldrucker

Last month, Asya Branch was just a young woman with dedication and a dream.

Branch, a rising junior at the University of Mississippi, competed in beauty revues during her teenage years, but wanted to try her luck in the Miss Mississippi scholarship pageant.

“I’m the only one in my family that participates in these competitions and my family was not really connected to the pageant world, so at first I didn’t know how to make that happen,” she said.

After winning her local pageant and competing on the Miss Mississippi stage for the first time in 2016, the Booneville native was hooked.

“I knew I wanted to return and continue to get better until I won, but I just never expected it to happen so soon,” she said.

On the night of June 23 in Vicksburg, Branch’s name was called and her dream became a reality. She is Miss Mississippi 2018.

“When the last three of us finalists were standing there, there was a calmness that came over me,” she said. “We were all there to win, and I knew it would be fine, no matter what the results.”

Branch said time seemed to stand still before that moment.

“It felt like an eternity before the winner’s name was called, but in reality when I watched it over again, it was only about three seconds,” Branch said.

The feeling of getting to represent her home state on the Miss America stage is indescribable, she said.

“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” Branch said. “I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how my dream is now a reality.”

Her new title also gives her a louder voice to discuss her platform “Finding Your Way: Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents.”

Branch is one of those children. Her father has been in prison since she was 10.

“Being a child with an incarcerated parent takes a negative toll, with the stigmas that surround it,” she said. “There’s emotional distress, financial instability and so many questions about why a parent isn’t there.”

She wants to influence people’s lives by speaking at schools, churches, civic organizations and jails.

“It’s an underdiscussed topic and I hope to bring light to it by sharing my story so others can see that I’m doing something positive,” she said. “It’s perfectly fine to share and embrace the circumstances, because it’s part of who we are and it’s going to shape you. By talking about it, we can take down the gate of judgment.”

Instead of dwelling on the challenges her family has faced, Branch has turned it into her purpose, providing resources for children that she did not have when she was younger.

“There is no reason for these children to be any less successful than their peers,” she said.

Branch’s father remains one of her biggest supporters.

“He has told me to strive to be successful,” she said. “He sees a bright future for me and doesn’t want me to settle. He wants me to achieve my goals.”

Her continued relationship with her father has led to her creating a love letters program, which provides jails with stationery so prisoners can continue to communicate with their families, mending the relationship between parent and child.

Branch is majoring in integrated marketing communications at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. She stays involved around campus as a member of the Student Activities Association.

“Asya is an incredible person, and an outstanding representative for not only the University of Mississippi, but the state of Mississippi,” said Bradley Baker, director of the Ole Miss Student Union.

“Whether serving as a member of the Student Activities Association Homecoming committee or starting her own student organization, Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents, Asya possesses all of the skills needed to succeed not only at the Miss America Pageant in September, but in life as well.”

Branch is a gifted speaker and presenter who lights up the screen when she is on camera, said Debora Wenger, associate professor of journalism and assistant dean for innovation and external partnerships at the journalism school.

“With all that, one of the things that impresses me most about Asya is her dedication to improving the lives of children who have parents in jail or in prison,” Wenger said. “She cares deeply about this issue because of her own personal experience and because she is the kind of person who sees possibilities rather than obstacles.”

On campus, Branch always rose to take on whatever obstacle was before her, so her winning the crown comes as no surprise, said Alysia Steele, assistant professor of multiple platform journalism.

“I know I pushed her in class, and she always met the challenge,” Steele said. “Asya has no problem speaking up for things she believes in, so I could always count on her to give her thoughts and opinions about work we were discussing in class.”

She added that through all Branch has accomplished, she remains humble and grounded.

“She has a warm personality that makes it hard to forget her,” Steele said. “I couldn’t be prouder, because I think she represents our university and state with integrity and grace. I can’t wait to see what she does next.”

Branch continues to stay informed on current events and lead a healthy lifestyle to prepare for the Miss America competition.

“I support this organization and all it stands for,” she said “It gives young women the confidence to be successful and thrive in life.”

She said the competition allows women to form bonds with other competitors while simultaneously learning to be more well-rounded individuals.

“There was so much I gained from competing that I didn’t even know was possible,” she said. “I feel like I can conquer the world.”

The Miss America pageant is set for Sept. 5-9 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The final night of the competition will be televised at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Besides Branch, UM journalism alumna Christine Williamson recently was crowned Miss Tennessee and also will compete at Miss America.

“We’re going to just have to hope for an unprecedented tie for the title,” Wenger said. “Either way, you can bet the Meek School’s TVs will be tuned to the Miss America pageant on Sept. 9.”

The story was written by Christina Steube for Ole Miss news.

Meek School sophomore, cancer survivor makes most of gift of life

Posted on: July 31st, 2018 by ldrucker

In 2013, Allie Allen was the 14-year-old captain of her junior high dance team when she started to feel strange every day around lunch. After the brief, but indescribable sensation passed, she would become exhausted.

She shrugged it off until a practice at Schilling Middle School in Collierville, Tennessee, when the spell hit so hard she completely stopped dancing. She saw a doctor who first thought it was anxiety, or simple exhaustion from being an active person in a growing body.

But Allen soon found out it was something far worse. She had been suffering focal seizures and was diagnosed with a golf ball-size brain tumor.

Allie Allen, a UM sophomore majoring in integrated marketing communications, has been battling a rare form of brain cancer since she was 14. She caries a full courseload and is determined not to let her diagnoses define her. Submitted photo

She faced the tough decision of having surgery or delaying the procedure to go to nationals with her dance team. She danced, but once the competition was over, she opted for surgery, an eight-hour ordeal that led to the discovery that her tumor was an extremely rare form of brain cancer found almost exclusively in toddlers. The teen was told she wouldn’t live to graduate from high school. But her story didn’t end there.

After two bouts with cancer, she’s a University of Mississippi sophomore majoring in integrated marketing communications. She had a 4.0 grade-point average her first semester and finished her freshman year with a 3.6 GPA.

“I won’t let cancer define me,” she said. “I take 126 pills each week, but I try to live life as much as I can. I just have to work twice as hard as everybody else.”

Her upbeat demeanor belies the struggle her life has been. After treatment stopped the tumor from growing in 2013, it began to grow again in 2015. On top of that, her mother, Debbi Allen, had been neglecting a concerning lump in her breast while her daughter underwent treatment. Once she saw a doctor, Debbi found out she had breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes.

“We both lost all of our hair,” Allie said. “We were baldies together. It was a unique experience.”

The two found themselves going through radiation treatments together after Debbi completed her chemotherapy. They moved into an apartment in downtown Memphis to be closer to hospitals for seven months while they underwent treatment.

“It was bonding,” Debbi said. “We spent every second together.”

Allie’s determination to live a normal life despite her long, difficult battle with cancer is inspiring, her mother said. She wrote about her experiences on her blog, “dancerwithcancer,” which she wanted to use as a tool to help others going through the same struggles. Her nature definitely had an effect on Debbi, who drew strength from Allie during her own health struggles.

“I’m very, very proud,” Debbi said. “I’m raising a good one.”

Debbi’s cancer is gone. Allie still has a small tumor in her brain. Her kind of cancer has a high rate of recurrence, so she has to get scans at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital about every two months.

“I’m not in remission,” Allie said. “We’re just watching my tumor and praying that it doesn’t grow because they haven’t discovered a cure for me yet.”

UM sophomore Allie Allen (left) has been battling a rare form of brain cancer since she was 14. She and her mother, Debbi Allen, both were treated for cancers at the same time in 2015. Submitted photo

It’s easy to wonder why the two wound up in the incredibly unlikely scenario of a mother and daughter having cancer at the same time. Debbi says her daughter has one theory that makes her sad.

“She says to me, ‘I heard you praying over me when I was in the hospital,” Debbi said. “I heard you asking God to take cancer from me and give it to you.’ I got my cancer a few months later.”

Despite being dealt such a tough hand, Debbi said her husband, Eric Allen, a pilot for Fed Ex, has been extremely strong and caring as his wife and daughter have gone through their treatments. She credits him and the couple’s son, Zach Allen, for being there for her and her daughter.

These days, Allie doesn’t dance anymore, not because she can’t. She’s just a busy college student with a full schedule of classes and being active with Tri Delta sorority. She also has a new passion that she learned while being treated at St. Jude.

Being bald during the awkward teen years was tough, but she found that she loved doing her makeup.

“When I was bald, makeup was something I loved,” Allie said. “It showed that I am a girl and into girly things.”

She works with a spa, doing makeup for brides and others. She finds that work extremely rewarding.

“I love making girls feel pretty,” Allie said.

She also raises money and makes appearances on behalf of St. Jude. She hopes to work full-time for the hospital one day so she can help support its mission to help children with cancer.

Though she battles side effects from medicines and treatments, Allie doesn’t do any less than a normal college student would, including handling her own laundry and chores. She has parts of the workings of her brain missing, she said, so she has to work harder than most on schoolwork.

She also lives every day with a reminder of what she’s been through in the form of a spot on the side of her head where her hair won’t grow back. Her mom gives her credit for rocking a pixie haircut that suits her, nonetheless.

The positive vibe her presence gives off doesn’t match up with what someone might expect from a person who has fought cancer twice and lives with a brain tumor.

Allie’s drive to be “normal” comes partially from a realization that many of the friends she made who also had cancer are no longer alive. She lives for them.

“I really think about that all of the time,” Allie said. “It’s called survivor’s guilt. I think about my last dance. Then, my tumor was stable and it hadn’t grown. A lot of my friends had gotten re-diagnosed with their brain cancers around then. That should have been me.”

While she works through survivor’s guilt, she also takes comfort in knowing that she has been given a gift: the opportunity to keep on living.

“They told me I wouldn’t make it to my high school graduation,” Allie said. “Statistics don’t mean anything to me, but only God knows when my time will come. No one really knows what is going to happen. I know that there is a plan for me out there.”

This story was written by Michael Newsom for Ole Miss News.

Street honored for making University of Mississippi more inclusive for LGBTQ students

Posted on: May 11th, 2018 by ldrucker

Robin Street, senior lecturer in journalism, has been recognized once again for her work to make the University of Mississippi more inclusive for all students.

The Allies Program recognized Street as the 2018 faculty recipient of the Vicki Mahan Ally of the Year Award. The award was created in 2015 to recognize the work of Vicki Mahan, who was retiring from the university. She created and ran the Allies Program for more than a decade.

The award recognizes individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to make the university a welcoming, accepting, and inclusive place for LGBTQ students, faculty and staff.

Street, who organized and led a program last year called It Starts With MEek that promoted diversity and inclusivity, shares the award this year with Vice Chancellor Brandi Hephner Lebanc, the staff/administrator recipient.

Street is pictured with Kevin Cozart, operations coordinator, for the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies.

Meek School magazine students visit Meredith Corp. in Birmingham

Posted on: May 2nd, 2018 by ldrucker

Samir Husni, Ph.D., also known as Mr. Magazine, recently took six magazine students with him to visit the Meredith Corp. in Birmingham, publisher of Southern Living, Coastal Living, Cooking Light and Food & Wine.

They spent a day with magazine editors and toured the famous test kitchens.

Sid Evans, editor-in-chief of Southern Living and Coastal Living, and Hunter Lewis, editor-in-chief of Cooking Light and Food & Wine magazines reviewed and commented on the magazine students’ magazine ideas.

The one-day trip ended with an hour and a half meeting with the director of human resources at Meredith in Birmingham, Carole Cain. Hannah Willis was one of the students who attended.

“Throughout the day, we toured their incredible food studios, seeing shoots in progress and talking to food studio professionals,” she said. “People from all parts of the four magazines (Southern Living, Coastal Living, Food & Wine, and Cooking Light) came and talked to us about the day-to-day working of their magazines. It was an incredible opportunity to see the industry up close.”

Willis said she learned a lot.

“Most importantly, I learned that this is a constant job that requires an individual to stay on top of all trends while creating excellent content and navigating the differences between their print and digital platforms,” she said.

Lana Ferguson, editor-in-chief of The Daily Mississippian, the University of Mississippi’s campus newspaper, said students met and interacted with different people in charge of different parts of the magazines and brands.

“We toured the infamous Time Inc. Kitchen Studio and saw the behind-the-scenes making of recipes, videos, and even .gifs,” she said. “And throughout the rest of the day, we met with experts in areas from social media, travel, video, food and more.”

Ferguson, who said she remembers flipping through the pages of Southern Living magazine before she could read, said she was surprised by some of the things she learned during the tour.

“As someone who has interned with a magazine and held editor roles in a newspaper, I thought I had an idea of how these legacy brands were run, but this experience was eye opening,” she said. “I now know some of the intricate details and effort that goes into every page of a magazine, the scheduling of production months in advance, and the developing of digital pieces that supplement the already-established print products.

“A lot of the people we spoke with mentioned ‘the reader is your boss,’ and that reminded me of how I got into journalism to serve people, and most of them did too, so I really appreciated that as well.”

Student Brittany Abbott said she was impressed by many things, including the building.

“We saw the Time Inc. test kitchens that are on the top floor paired with the camera studios for the magazine work,” she said. “We also saw the basic building process from beginning to end for the magazine.”

Abbott said she learned it takes a team to make a successful magazine like Parents or Southern Living.

“Everyone had a very specific job and a time to do that job,” she said. “They worked together so well. It was wonderful. I’m so grateful I got to go.”