By Zach Taylor
Columbia, Mo. (Feb. 22, 2020) — One strategic communication student has plans to change the world, and she’s off to a good start.
Mikaela Ashley, BJ ‘21, recently attended the American Advertising Federation’s (AAF) Most Promising Multicultural Students Program, which annually awards 50 of the nation’s best advertising talent with the networking opportunity of a lifetime. The 2021 honorees represented 22 colleges from across the country and were selected by a panel of industry judges from a variety of organizations including Amazon, Facebook and Target. The ultimate goal of the program is to help the advertising and media workforce better reflect the diversity of today’s society.
As part of the program, Ashley participated in a four-day industry immersion event in January 2021 that included networking and personal brand breakout sessions, video enhanced interviewing, and multiple live stream industry lead immersions with advertising, marketing and media professionals. Normally, this event would have taken place in New York City, but it was held virtually this year to accommodate COVID-19-related concerns.
“I was bummed out that I didn’t get to visit the Big Apple,” said Ashley. “But overall, I was impressed by how smoothly things were run. The tech worked without any hiccups, which seemed like a miracle. And I was able to meet so many really cool people and get helpful job search tips.”
Ashley is a well-deserving honoree who is heavily involved in the Mizzou community. She serves as a strategist for the School’s professional advertising agency MOJO Ad, is the director of strategic research for Relevant Youth, and is the event coordinator for the Journalism Schools professional digital business newsroom, the Missouri Business Alert. Despite her workload, she still finds time to give back to her community as a College Mentor for Kids’ “buddy.”
“I’m so proud of Mikaela and all that she’s accomplished,” said Jon Stemmle, professor and Strategic Communication faculty chair, who wrote a letter of recommendation for Ashley for the AAF program. “It’s been amazing to watch her grow this year and develop more confidence in herself and her abilities. I believe there’s nothing she can’t accomplish if she sets her mind to it.”
Although Ashley plans to set her mind to strategy, she is quite adaptable: “One thing the J-School really helped me do is gain experience with all aspects of strategy from research to setting deadlines and communicating with clients. Last semester, I got to present to and answer questions from some of AT&T’s people about the advertising campaign my capstone team put together – that was nerve-wracking but rewarding.”
Something Ashley will always be passionate about is diversity, equity and inclusion, and she backs her words up with action. She spearheaded a DEI effort for her sorority, Delta Gamma, through her role as VP Panhellenic, and was selected to attend the Publicis Multicultural Talent Pipeline in October 2020.
Participating in the AAF’s Most Promising Multicultural Students Program further reinforced her feelings about the importance of DEI initiatives and helped her learn what it’s going to take to nurture an inclusive workplace for everyone.
“I’m so excited for what my future holds,” said Ashley, who has lined up an internship with Leo Burnett that begins shortly after she graduates in May. “There is a lot of change that’s taking place, and that needs to take place, and I’m just happy and ready to play my part.”
Updated: February 22, 2021