TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – Kennedy Studdard, an alum of the College of Communication & Information Sciences (C&IS), received the American Advertising Federation’s (AAF) Most Promising Rising Star Award in February. 

The award recognizes college alumni who have made notable contributions to the advertising industry within 5-8 years of graduating from AAF’s Most Promising Multicultural Students (MPMS) program. AAF recognizes only one Rising Star per year, celebrating individuals who have demonstrated exceptional talent, leadership and innovation in their careers, making a significant impact on the field and championing an inclusive industry.  

“You might dream up here, right?” Studdard said, pointing at the air. She raised her hand about a foot and said, “But somebody else is dreaming for you all the way up here. And sometimes you just have to say, ‘Let’s see how far this can go. I’m going to dream beyond where I’ve dreamt.’” 

She added, “I would not be here without all those other stars, all those other people, who have poured into me, lifted me up, been my family away from family [and] locked arms with me and said, ‘You can do this.’”  

Studdard with senior instructor Susan Daria at the 2017 Mosaic Awards.

She credited Advertising & Public Relations (A+PR) senior instructor Susan Daria and several other C&IS faculty members as her biggest mentors and inspiration. Daria was particularly helpful in helping Studdard apply for the MPMS program. 

Studdard recalled, “She was very honest with me and said, ‘If you don’t apply, you will 1,000% miss out because I know you’re going to get in.’” 

Ultimately, Studdard’s fellowships and career in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging are the factors AAF highlighted in the award, citing her “exceptional talent, leadership and innovation” in her attempts to diversify the advertising industry. 

Kennedy Studdard poses with her Rising Star Award
Studdard poses with her 2024 Most Promising Rising Star Award.

“Everybody’s voice is so important,” she said. “You don’t have to be doing this work to be doing the work.” 

Studdard is a programming director at the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) Foundation, where she manages the organization’s Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP), alumni community and high school education programs. She graduated from The University of Alabama in 2017, where she studied public relations with a concentration in digital and technological management.  

For more, see AAF’s full press release