Published on April 5, 2017, at 1:20 p.m.
by Kahla Anderson.
The American Advertising Federation awards the “Most Promising MultiCultural Student” award (MPMS) every year to the top 50 students in the country. Students can be advertising or public relations majors. The program consists of an all-expense-paid trip to New York, including professional development opportunities, industry immersion tours of top agencies in the world and panel discussions with some of the leading professionals in the industry.
To be qualified for the program students must be a rising senior, a member of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), have a high GPA and be of a multicultural background. Students are required to send in multiple essays and a tagline. From there, the AAF board will decide who will be a recipient of the award.
Susan Daria is an advertising and public relations professor at The University of Alabama with over 15 years of teaching experience. Daria served as the Capstone AdFed adviser for 10 years. She nominated her first student for the program about nine years ago and has continued to nominate students.
This year, public relations student Kennedy Studdard and advertising student Ashley Paulmeno were selected from The University of Alabama to receive this award. Studdard is the fundraising chair for the Public Relations Student Society of American (PRSSA), Capstone Agency senior digital strategist for Alabama Power and LessThanUThink (LTUT), College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) ambassador, design consultant for Platform Magazine, Capstone AdFed member and intern for the Honors College. Paulmeno is a senior graphic designer for Capstone Agency, a part-time employee of Valtech, president of C&IS Ambassadors, and a member of the Avanti Alumni Association, Capstone AdFed and C&IS Student Executive Council.
Daria spoke highly of Studdard and Paulmeno, saying it was no surprise that these students received the award. When asked why she nominated Studdard she answered, “Her reputation preceded her. I didn’t teach her in any classes. I didn’t know her except through the accolades of her instructors.”
In regards to Paulmeno, Daria said that she had gotten to know her during Paulmeno’s time as an Avanti.
“I’ve known Ashley since she was an Avanti when she would bring in the advisees for the summer,” Daria said. “She stood out from that point on because she was always positive, always on top of things.”
The program put a strong emphasis on networking and building relationships amongst industry professionals and peers during the awards week. One day out of the week the students attended an event called Most Promising University where students visited different agencies and got a feel for what it would be like to work there. Some of those companies included Bloomberg, Turner, Wieden+Kennedy and much more. The program concluded with an awards banquet at the Roosevelt Hotel.
During the award ceremony, the students were able to present their chosen taglines and hashtags to the audience. Kennedy’s slogan was “A super problem solver ready for the world” with the hashtag #PrettySuper. Paulmeno’s slogan was “Dancing to the beat of culture from one idea to the next” with the hashtag #CantStandStill.
Before attending the program in New York, Paulmeno stated that she did not know the immense benefit and growth she would receive from AAF in such a short time.
“That week was one of the most influential experiences I’ve had in my college career,” Paulmeno said. “That’s what made me feel inspired and energized to enter this new phase of my life.”
As for takeaways, Paulmeno said it is all about your connections and who you know.
“That’s more important in the advertising industry than anywhere else,” Paulmeno said. “Everybody knows everybody.”
Studdard’s main takeaways from the program included the fact that the road to success could be one with many twists and turns.
“What you start off doing will probably not be what gets you to the point of success,” Studdard said.
Before the program, Studdard mentioned feeling nervous about the program and traveling to New York by herself.
Upon the completion of the trip, Studdard said she felt “a positive high of energy, motivation and encouragement,” and that she wanted to push herself up and become a better candidate.
“Being a part of this program made me proud to be a black woman, a female and to support minority students who are paving the way to do great things for this industry.”
Through another multicultural program, the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP), Studdard will intern in Minneapolis this summer at Colle + McVoy following graduation in May.
As far as advice for those thinking about applying for the MPMS award, Daria said not to get caught up in the fact that only 50 students are selected. Paulmeno recommends that those interested should pursue it and don’t second guess yourself. Studdard also added that those interested shouldn’t wait to apply.
“Opportunities multiply when seized,” said Daria.
The overall consensus is that the MPMS program is worth the shot, and the odds can be in your favor.