TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Department of Advertising and Public Relations (A+PR), in cooperation with Confidant, the creative and strategic communications agency, has recognized student Hailey Castillo with a scholarship and a summer internship.

The agency and C&IS first announced The Confidant Scholarship June 2021 as a diversity initiative. According to A+PR department chair Brooke McKeever, Ph.D., the scholarship is $10,000 awarded over one academic year and a paid summer internship inConfidant’s New York office, including housing and travel stipends, and  a connection with a Confidant mentor for career assistance.

“We work with each scholarship recipient to develop a mix of account work that aligns with their interests and gives them foundational experience to build a career around,” Confidant’s Garland Harwood said. Harwood is the co-founder and communications strategist for Confidant, where he manages the New York office and the agency’s public relations team. He is also a member of the C&IS Board of Visitors and a UA alumnus.

The A+PR department coordinated with Confidant, and both organizations selected the winner. According to McKeever, students applied using an information form and essay. While she said the selection was competitive, she narrowed the candidates to three. With input from faculty and Harwood, McKeever selected Castillo.

Requirements for the scholarship were loosely defined, said McKeever, who restricted eligibility to A+PR students at The University of Alabama (UA).  Priority went to first-semester juniors or first-year graduate students with at least a 3.0 GPA, and applicants also had to demonstrate in an essay how their enrollment in the program enhanced student diversity within the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS).

“Across our team, we’re drawn to new teammates that are highly organized, collaborative, great writers, curious media consumers, trend hunters, eager to learn and hold a bias for action,” Harwood said about the candidates Confidant selects.

Lexie Riggins received the scholarship in 2021, and Trinity Hunter received it in 2022. Castillo will begin her internship in Summer 2024.

“Our internship is a true taste of what it’s like to work at an agency,” Harwood said. He noted that Castillo will be assigned to multiple accounts and work with Confidant clients, which include Amazon, Shake Shack, Diageo and BarkBox.

“[Confidant wants] to provide opportunities for our students, and they want to benefit from the talent and skills that our students have and develop as a result of our advertising and public relations courses,” McKeever said.

Harwood explained why he chose to work with UA in offering the opportunity: “This investment is one that I’m especially proud of because I think it goes a long way for students, while also helping to foster more diversity in our industry,” he said.“This scholarship opportunity helps me tremendously,” Castillo said, adding that she is able to attend UA thanks to scholarships like this one.

“It is inspiring that the agency was co-founded by a UA alum and emphasizes that UA and C&IS both create opportunities for students,” Castillo added. “Knowing that someone who was once in my shoes wants to help me and provide me with experience goes to show that the network created within C&IS is one that lasts forever.”