Spotlight: Keeping Up With the Times
Susan Daria, an APR instructor, shows love for students by keeping them updated on the latest advertising methods and tools.
By Amanda Bayhi
It was time for the Ad Team members to present the 40-page campaign book they had worked on for months, but their adviser, Susan Daria, could not be there. Instead, she was in the hospital. Daria had gone into labor, and now she was on the phone with one of the team members as a nurse wheeled her through the halls of the hospital.
Six years later, Daria smiled warmly as she sat behind her desk. Sunlight poured into her office, glistening on awards and pictures of her family. Daria said the large windows are one of her favorite parts in her office.
“I never thought I would teach this early,” she said as she recalled the events leading up to her acquiring her current position.
Daria, who was once an anthropology major at The University of Alabama, is now an instructor in UA’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations who tries to share her love for communication with her students.
Daria said she has always had an interest in advertisements but didn’t know it would become her career until she was in college. While still an anthropology major, she decided to talk with an APR adviser. Marilyn Mancini was her instructor, and she encouraged Daria to go into advertising. Daria said she considers Mancini to have been one of her mentors and the reason she decided to go to graduate school.
Before she started teaching, Daria worked with various organizations in marketing, advertising and public relations. Now, in addition to teaching, she tries to keep at least one client so she can stay up-to-date on today’s evolving world of advertising. It helps her teach her students by giving them real-world examples of what they are learning.
“This industry changes daily,” Daria said.
She likes to show her students actual thumbnails she has done for her clients, as well as different options she gave her clients, to illustrate the realities of working with clients.
Tracy Sims, also an instructor of advertising and public relations at UA, said that Daria’s knowledge of advertising, public relations and the Adobe CS suite makes her perfect for teaching APR courses like advanced design, branding and copywriting.
Sims and Daria worked together in UA’s University Relations, before teaching. Sims said that both then and now, they’ve had a lot of fun working together.
Daria has been involved in many professional activities outside of teaching. She was hired as the faculty adviser for the Ad Team in January 2002, though she had already begun her work in October 2001. The Ad Team competes every year, and while she was faculty adviser the team took on four clients – one per year.
Daria said the Ad Team is great for students because it is a real hands-on experience in which they get to be involved with every part of the campaign, something that most people working in the professional environment don’t even get to experience.
“While I knew what a large endeavor it would be, I was excited to do it,” Daria said. “When you’re dealing with a project of this magnitude, it becomes your life.”
And she knows from experience on both sides of the team. From 1994 to1996, Daria was a student member of the Ad Team, which she admits helped her in her role as an instructor.
Since she stepped down from her role in the Ad Team, she has stepped into a new role – faculty adviser to Capstone Student Advertising Federation. Ad Fed provides programs for “students excited about advertising,” Daria said. They host monthly meetings, workshops, “Ad It Up,” the philanthropy portion of the program and get together every year after the Super Bowl to watch the advertisements and critique them. Daria said most members skip the game and only watch the advertisements.
Being a part of the Ad Fed allows her to meet more students, not only ones in her classes. “It’s a good way for me to notice the new students coming in,” Daria said.
Within the department, Daria co-directs advising efforts in APR along with Sims. Her main focus is on incoming new majors, either from other universities or from other colleges within UA.
She and Sims also helped with the transition to Degree Works, a new program that takes the place of check sheets. Daria said she helps other advisers become familiar with Degree Works so they can help students use it.
Daria feels very fortunate to have her job because she likes the faculty and students and she is teaching something that she enjoys. Her main goal as an instructor is to see her students become successful. Daria said it is rewarding to think that she contributed to the development of her students, even if her contribution was extremely small.
In addition to teaching, Daria enjoys spending time outdoors with her family, which consists of her husband of 12 years and her two sons. Her sons are halfway to earning their black belts in their karate class. Her husband is the personnel director for Tuscaloosa City Schools, which Daria said is beneficial because they get holidays and free time together.
“Life is good.”
Lauren Musselman, a recent APR graduate, said Daria is very admirable because she can handle a family, teaching and all the other activities she does. “She makes it happen. She’s like superwoman.”
In the future, Daria wants to continue to consult clients and learn and be able to keep up with new transformations in advertising so she can introduce her students to them and prepare them for the changes that are bound to occur while they are in the profession. “I want to stay as current as I possibly can so that I can keep instructing my students with relevant information.”
Amanda Bayhi is a Journalism major.