Category: CIS News

Rod Hicks Named SPJ’s First Journalist on Call

In an effort to address the issue of dwindling trust in the media, the Society of Professional Journalists has named veteran journalist and University of Alabama alumnus, Rod Hicks, as its first Journalist on Call. SPJ’s Journalist on Call is a unique, three-year position, developed and funded by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

“We had many outstanding candidates for this position. Rod’s experience, enthusiasm and ability to communicate with people from all walks of life make him perfect for this role,” said Alison Bethel McKenzie, SPJ executive director. “He brings an abundance of great ideas to the table, and we are eager for him to begin this important work.”

Hicks, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, has experience at numerous news organizations across the country. Most recently, he served as an editor for The Associated Press at its Philadelphia-based East Regional Desk, which manages news coverage in 10 states. In this role, he worked on several major national stories including the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, the Boston Marathon bombing and the sexual assault trials of Bill Cosby.

Hicks will serve as something of an ombudsman, helping journalists understand why the public doesn’t trust them and what they can do to re-earn more trust. He will also spend time with the general public, local officials and community groups to explain the important role ethical journalism plays in society. A great deal of the focus will center on how the media and public can work together in crisis situations. He will begin July 16.

“We live in a time when distrust of the press is at alarming levels. Democracy depends on civic engagement, and civic engagement should be built on a foundation of truth. We need someone to help calm the waters, build bridges and be a resource to both public and news media. Rod is the right person to do this,” said SDX Foundation President Robert Leger.

Hicks graduated from The University of Alabama in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in Advertising.

To see the Society of Professional Journalists’ full release, click here.

Alabama Public Radio wins National Edward R. Murrow Award

The APR news team with the RFK Journalism Award in Washington D.C.

The Radio Television Digital News Association has awarded Alabama Public Radio (APR) a National Edward R. Murrow Award for best news series in the small market radio category for their series, titled, “Alabama Rural Health Care.”

APR’s winning entry included four stories from their yearlong rural health investigation, covering Alabama’s rural hospital shortage, obstetrical care shortage, the 20th anniversary of President Clinton’s apology for the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment and a report on the potential of telemedicine to link doctors and patients in rural Alabama.

“It’s always a privilege to bring another national journalism award to the Digital Media Center,” says APR news director Pat Duggins. “But, in the case of rural health care, it’s also gratifying to help shine a light on an issue that impacts so many Alabamians.”

At the time APR recorded their series, seven rural counties in Alabama did not have a hospital; since then, the number has increased to eight. Furthermore, only sixteen Alabama counties have hospitals capable of delivering babies, which does not help the studies which have ranked Alabama as having the highest infant mortality rate in the nation.

APR’s investigation into these facts provide a critical analysis of the problem of health care in rural Alabama, shedding light on just how dark the situation is. In fact, the documentary produced from their news series was recognized by human rights organization, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights with the prestigious, national Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

The members of the Alabama Public Radio news team are: Pat Duggins, news director, Stan Ingold, assistant news director and Alex AuBuchon, news host and reporter.

The national Edward R. Murrow awards will be presented in New York City in October. They are named for the internationally renowned broadcast journalist whose name they bear. Established by RTDNA in 1971, these annual awards recognize the best electronic journalism produced by radio, television and digital news organizations around the world.

Alabama Public Radio is a network of public radio stations licensed by The University of Alabama and located in Bryant-Denny Stadium’s Digital Media Center. Its affiliation with the College of Communication and Information Sciences gives students opportunities for practical training in a variety of production activities.

Minerva Students Win National ADDY

23andMe Magazine AR mockup by Elizabeth Swartz and Charlotte Frank.

Recent C&IS graduates, Charlotte Frank and Elizabeth Swartz, have been awarded a Silver ADDY at the national level from the American Advertising Federation.

ADDYs are awarded to entrants in recognition of their creative excellence. A Gold ADDY is judged to be superior to all other entries in the category. A Silver ADDY is awarded to entries that are also considered outstanding and worthy of recognition. The number of awards given in each category is determined by the judges, based on the relative quality of work in that category.

Frank (Norwalk, CT) and Swartz (St. Louis, MO) created their campaign as a concept for 23andMe, a personal genome service that exists to help people access, understand and benefit from the human genome. Their ads targeted couples who are looking to start a family and want to use the 23andMe service as a tool to find out more information about their genetic makeup and what traits they could potentially pass to their biological children.

“Having won a national ADDY is validation that the hard work and very late nights can pay off,” said Frank. “Sometimes it’s hard to know if after spending so much time up close to your work, if you love it because you’ve worked so long on it or you love it because it’s good. To have our work nationally recognized and applauded is an overwhelmingly proud feeling.”

Frank and Swartz both graduated in May as members of Minerva, the creative portfolio specialization within advertising and public relations. As a part of the One Club’s portfolio review in May, they both landed internships with Hudson Rouge, and advertising agency in NYC. They credit this opportunity and much of their success to the Minerva experience.

“Minerva prepared me for this fast-paced industry,” said Swartz. “As a graduate of Minerva, I had a leg up on the competition because I was taught how to concept and that the idea is always the most important part.”

  • 23andMe ad by Charlotte Frank and Liz Swartz
    23andMe ad by Charlotte Frank and Liz Swartz
  • 23andMe ad by Charlotte Frank and Liz Swartz
    23andMe ad by Charlotte Frank and Liz Swartz
  • 23andMe ad by Charlotte Frank and Liz Swartz
    23andMe ad by Charlotte Frank and Liz Swartz

“Minerva allowed my to find my voice in advertising and create a portfolio that many people take time after college to complete,” said Frank. “Being able to launch right from college into the industry has pushed me but also validated that everything I learned in Minerva really did prepare me for the real world.”

This brings Minerva’s ADDY total to 20 at the local, district and national level in 2018.

“I’m unbelievably proud of all the students for the time and energy they put into making this amazing creative,” said Mark Barry, director of Minerva. “This level of recognition is a testament to their hard work and dedication to their craft.”

The American Advertising Awards, formerly the ADDYs, is the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting over 40,000 entries every year in local AAF Club (Ad Club) competitions.

For more information on Minerva, visit their website.

Raimist to Direct Episode of Queen Sugar

Journalism and creative media professor, Dr. Rachel Raimist, will direct an episode of Queen Sugar in New Orleans during the month of June. The invitation comes from notable film writer, director and producer, Ava DuVernay of Selma, 13th and A Wrinkle in Time.

Directing this episode will place Raimist in the Directors Guild of America, the preeminent organization of more than 17,000 members representing directors and members of the directorial worldwide.

“I have made independent films and documentaries, but for a long time I thought that breaking in to television might not be possible,” said Raimist. “DuVernay has been intentional about giving opportunities to first-time television directors from legendary independent film directors like Julie Dash, Cheryl Dunye and Patricia Cardoso to new directors with recent festival wins and folks like me, who don’t fit into either of these categories.”

Starring Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner and Kofi Siriboe, Queen Sugar follows the life of three siblings, who move to Louisiana to claim an inheritance from their recently departed father—an 800-acre sugarcane farm. The siblings’ complicated lives are put aside to help their family revitalize the struggling farm.

The award-winning show’s executive producer is Oprah Winfrey and features all women directors over its three seasons. According to Women and Hollywood, women represented 32% of first-time episodic directors, a sharp increase from last season’s 19 percent and is nearly three times the number of the 2009–10 season.

Raimist is directing episode 311, titled,” Your Passages Have Been Paid,” which takes a deep dive into the lives of many of the show’s lead characters. Filmed on location in New Orleans, the episode will air in the fall on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network.

“So many of us knocked on countless doors trying to wedge our way into TV directing work only to get every door shut in our face,” said Kat Candler, Show Runner for Queen Sugar. “‘Come back when you have an episode under your belt’ they’d say. But not until Ava ripped the hinges of those doors, built her own house and invited us all in did things in this industry start shifting. She’s revolutionary in that way. People try to ask us, ‘what do we do how can we change things?’ they come up with all these panels, programs …  to try and fix things when it’s pretty simple, ‘Just hire us’.”

Raimist agrees.

“Episodic television is a particularly difficult medium to “break in” to as a woman of color director,” said Raimist. “To be called by Academy Award winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay and be invited to direct an episode of her show is a career-defining moment for me.”

Made in Minerva

UA’s creative portfolio specialization goes beyond ordinary.

In most classes, detailed syllabi are handed out at the beginning of each semester, but in a small classroom in Reese Phifer, something different happens on the first day.

Students are asked to sketch out hundreds of concepts on small pieces of paper. Scribbled in pencil, these ideas are then put on a wall and judged for their merit. After editing and critiquing the drawings, an idea emerges. From that original idea, Minerva students are guided through an intensive process of creativity for the rest of their time studying creative advertising.

From the initial concept sketches to the finished product, Minerva students craft and perfect their messages in the most creative ways possible.

This small group of students make up the Minerva program. Minerva, named for the Roman goddess of wisdom and arts, is the name given to the cohort of students selected to join the creative specialization within advertising. Students are selected through a rigorous application process, attracting some of the most creative minds on campus. They care about the identity of Minerva and intentionally represent it in nearly every facet of their lives.

These creative minds influence campus conversations on how to think about social problems, campus issues and student relationships. Students in Minerva are expected to care about the process of design which includes a deep understanding of their environment. Just as their first-draft ideas are crafted into something bigger from the first day on, the students themselves feel a change within as they complete the program.

Britt Buzan, a recent graduate of Minerva from Jacksonville, Ala., knows this to be true. Moving from political science to Minerva, Buzan pushed himself in the program to become the artist he is today.

Last year, Buzan won a Gold ADDY in the full-page magazine ad category of the local American Advertising Student Awards. His ad, “Super Natural,” for BurgerFi highlighted the restaurant’s vegetarian burger options. The ad is a testament to Minerva’s commitment to teach students to dream big and think outside of the box. Every ADDY in the student division went to University of Alabama students.

“Minerva became my place, it was the perfect outlet for me,” said Buzan. “We want to creatively solve problems and we are challenged in this way. The process shapes us.”

Buzan and other students have found solidarity in the process, becoming mentors for one another during late nights in Reese Phifer 332. The hard work is worth it because they get a taste for agency life while completing their undergraduate degree. No matter the challenge, Minerva students face it together, head on.

Mary Buzbee (Birmingham, Ala.), a senior in Minerva, discussed the program’s desire to change the campus conversation about the creative focus and to introduce more collaboration.

“We want to dispense the information we have, and we want to widen the scope of Minerva on campus,” said Buzbee.

The final advertisement created by Britt Buzan (above) and additional ideas Buzan created before the final selection of the most creative and effective ad (below). Buzan won a Gold ADDY in the local American Advertising Awards for this BurgerFi ad, “Super Natural.”

For each student in Minerva, widening the scope looks a little different. While on campus, they may work with students in other majors to create a project or provide feedback on design and creative initiatives. The program is working to become a student organization in addition to the creative portfolio specialization, which exemplifies their desire to reach more people with the creative influence.

After their time in Minerva, many graduates go on to work in an agency, pushing the limits in the creative world. Some go on to work as freelance graphic artists and others look for ways to engage with creative issues around the world on their own terms. No matter the arena, Minerva students tackle problems with the backing of a creative community.

Led by Mark Barry, a former creative director and part-time sculptor, Minerva seeks to go beyond the ordinary for student growth. As Barry put it, “early on, they realize the level of work and work ethic we expect in the program is really high.”

Minerva students’ creativity is highlighted and encouraged through relationships with their peer cohort, but also with their professors like Barry.

“[The faculty] are usually kind and positive, but sometimes they have to be brutally honest,” said Caleb Ledbetter (Columbia, Tenn.). “No matter what, I always know that they care most about helping me create my best work, so that I can land that agency job.”

Larissa Magera is a Minerva alumna and current designer at Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborne (BBDO) in New York City. She knows the Minerva mission and how it facilitates collaboration among students, first hand.

“Every week, we had to come up with ideas for our assigned products. During class, we’d critique everyone’s work and push our thinking to be smarter, bolder and more surprising,” said Magera. “It’s uncomfortable having your ideas in the hot seat, but the comradery that emerges eventually builds a more collaborative environment.”

Beyond the work load and creative expectations of the program, the cohort style fosters relationships among students. Eventually it is the students, not just the faculty, that keep the creative standards for the program alive.

“They hold each other accountable for the amount and level of work they do,” said Barry. “No one gets to slack off because everyone wants to succeed.”

In addition to their cohort’s cohesive mentality, the comradery plays right into Minerva’s culture. The group of students molds the program into what they want it to be.

“Everyone cares about creativity and ideas,” Ledbetter said. “We get along well, which is good because we spend hours together every week in group meetings, we eat together, and we go out together. As a group, we are free-spirited, progressive and positive.”

The students are excited to be a part of building the program. It is within programs like Minerva that leaders are created.

These leaders steward the arts and create pieces that offer creative solutions to communicate messages. As Buzbee said, their art opens the door to a broader conversation and invites collaboration in new ways on campus.

The Minerva community is dedicated to designing compelling, creative advertising, and for most students, the specialization is just the beginning.

No matter the next step for students, Minerva goes with them. At its core, Minerva is a tight-knit group of creative minds. These minds are part of an international creative movement.

To learn more about Minerva, visit their website and follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

Toxey Awarded Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation Grant

Public relations student, Anna Claire Toxey, has received a grant from the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation to work with Black Warrior Riverkeeper, a nonprofit clean water advocacy organization. A senior at The University of Alabama, Toxey will work as a public relations intern throughout the group’s service area, the 17-county Black Warrior River watershed.

The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation provides funds to programs that focus on the conservation of natural resources in North America and the Caribbean Basin, with an emphasis on North America. The foundation’s internship grant to the Department of Advertising and Public Relations is an on-going relationship which will yield $54,000 for APR students from 2017-2019.

“I am very grateful for this grant and for the opportunity to work with Black Warrior Riverkeeper this summer,” Toxey said. “Being a Tuscaloosa native makes it even more rewarding to partner with an organization whose primary focus is protecting the historic Black Warrior River. I am looking forward to using my public relations knowledge to help support the organization and its mission.”

As a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, Black Warrior Riverkeeper identifies pollution problems and works to fix them while increasing public awareness. The organization also engages partner groups and individuals in its efforts. Last year, 520 volunteers donated 6,983 hours of community service through Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s projects. The majority of those volunteers were students from The University of Alabama.

“Our great state leads the nation in freshwater biodiversity, but we are plagued by pollution and apathy,” said Charles Scribner, executive director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper. “I am so thankful for The University of Alabama’s nationally renowned PR program helping us spread awareness of these urgent facts.”

“By generously providing students with a grant for the internship, the Munson Foundation helps both the conservation organization as well as the student,” said Dr. Joseph Phelps, chair, Department of Advertising and Public Relations. “It is a wonderful opportunity for students to practice what they are learning in their classes while helping the nonprofit organization meet its objectives.”

Alpine Living Wins National Mark of Excellence

From Left: Mary-Margaret Schmidt, Dr. Kim Bissell, Lane Stafford, Elizabeth Elkin and Jonathan Norris.

C&IS student-produced magazine, Alpine Living, has been awarded a national Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists in the category of Best Affiliated Website.

This is the seventh national honor for the latest edition of Alpine Living featuring content from the travels of 15 UA students from the department of journalism and creative media to New Zealand in March 2017. The students produced a 100+ page, full-gloss magazine promoting the art, history, culture, people and traditions of New Zealand.

“I am incredibly proud of this team because they have demonstrated that when the bar is high and they strive for excellence, anything is possible,” said Dr. Kim Bissell. “Within three weeks of returning from halfway across the world, we had a print and online version of this magazine with content that was created and produced during our two weeks of travel. Alpine Living is unlike any other student-produced magazine in the country, and I am incredibly proud of this team’s efforts.”

The Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Award recognizes the best in student journalism nationwide. Other national finalists include Harvard University and the University of Texas at Arlington.

Other national honors for the New Zealand issue of Alpine Living include:

  • Best affiliated websiteRegion 3 winner, SPJ Mark of Excellence,
  • Honorable Mention, Feature Story of the Year, Associated Collegiate Press Award, “The Story of the Māori,” Elayne Smith and Madison Sullivan
  • Fourth Place, Multimedia Feature Story of the Year, Associated Collegiate Press Award, “Resilient,” Christopher Edmunds, Cara Walker, Taylor Armer and Thomas Joa.
  • Second place, Online Magazine, AEJMC Magazine Division,
  • Second Place, Service and Information Feature Story, AEJMC Magazine Division, “Sea of Dreams,” Matthew Wilson.
  • Third Place, Single Issue of an Ongoing Magazine—Editorial, AEJMC Magazine Division,

The Alpine Living staff includes UA students: Jonathan Norris, Mary Kathryn Carpenter, Taylor Armer, Hailey Grace Steele, Christopher Edmunds, Madison Sullivan, Kaylin Bowen, Lane Stafford, Elizabeth Elkin, Danielle Waddell, Thomas Joa, Cara Walker, Mary-Margaret Schmidt, Matthew Wilson and Elayne Smith. Students who are a part of the editorial team include graduate and undergraduate students in journalism and creative media and go through a competitive and selective process in order to participate.

Minerva Finishes Out Strong Year

Minerva finishes out the academic year strong with a total of 28 creative advertising awards won in regional, national and international competitions. June 8’s National American Advertising Awards brings C&IS students, Charlotte Frank and Elizabeth Swartz, to Chicago, capping the statement year for Minerva.

Minerva is the creative portfolio specialization in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. The two-year program places selected students into a cohort through a rigorous application process and guides them through an intense process of creative discovery.

“It’s been a very successful year with Minerva students winning more local, regional, national and international awards for their creative advertising campaigns in 2018 than any other previous year by more than double,” said Mark Barry, Director, creative portfolio specialization. “We will be working hard to build upon this momentum moving forward.”

Two student teams brought home Awards of Merit from the Young Ones Student Awards put on by The One Club for Creativity in New York. The Young Ones competition is considered one of the premier competitions for creative students internationally. The student submissions responded to a creative brief charging the students to partner with FCB Health on an awareness campaign for the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Click on the following links to view the winning student campaigns: 


The complete list of the 2017-2018 Minerva student awards is as follows:

19 Local American Advertising Awards, ADDYs:

6 Gold Winning Teams:
-Mary Buzbee, Elizabeth Swartz
-Emeline Earman, Olivia Ledbetter
-Caroline Clark, Alexia Korte
-Sydney Estill, Joanna Gaylard
-Serenity Lamprakes, Olivia Ledbetter

10 Silver Winning Teams:
– Lauren Meadows, Sydney Pellegrini
– Charlotte Frank, Lauren Meadows
– Mary Buzbee, Julia Hall
– Caleb Ledbetter, Caleb Moon
– Emeline Earman, Sydney Pellegrini (2x)
– Julia Hall, Sydney Pellegrini
– Julia Hall, Caleb Ledbetter, Lauren Meadows
– Alexia Korte, Lexi Warren
– Charlotte Frank, Elizabeth Swartz

2 Judge’s Choice Winning Teams:
– Elizabeth Swartz
– Mary Buzbee, Elizabeth Swartz

1 Student Best of Show:
-Sydney Estill, Joanna Gaylard

6 District 7 American Advertising Awards, ADDYs:

2 Gold Winning Teams:
– Caroline Clark, Alexia Korte
– Elizabeth Swartz

3 Silver Winning Teams:
– Caleb Ledbetter, Caleb Moon
– Emeline Earman, Sydney Pellegrini
– Charlotte Frank, Elizabeth Swartz

1 Judge’s Choice Winning Team:
Caroline Clark, Alexia Korte

1 National American Advertising Award, ADDYs:

Winning Team, will know level June 8:
-Charlotte Frank, Elizabeth Swartz

2 Young Ones One Club Awards of Merit:
-Emeline Earman, Lauren Meadows, Charlotte Frank, Nelle Thomas, Rick Molinaro
-Mary Buzbee, Sydney Estill, Mk Holladay, Sydney Pellegrini, Elizabeth Swartz

For more information about Minerva, visit their website.

Training Days

Communication and Media Preview gives high school students an educational head start.

Luke Winstel and Cheney Harden came to Communication and Media Preview (CAMP) wanting to learn more about sports communication. Luke, a junior, works as a sports announcer, covering six different teams for St. Pius X Catholic High School’s webcast. Cheney is a senior cheerleader at Cherokee High School and has a passion for photography and digital editing. They both live in Georgia, they both love sports, and they are both asking big questions about their futures. In other words, they are exactly the kind of students who benefit from the College’s newest high school program.

“I wanted to come to C&IS CAMP because I wanted to learn more about the sports broadcasting field and what it would be like to work on a broadcast team in college,” said Luke.

“The more I looked into CAMP, I realized that it would provide me with tools to use in the industry I want to enter: sports communication,” Cheney said. “My ideal career path deals with athletic management with a focus on image repair.”


Participants enjoyed a simulated press conference experience with UA Men’s Tennis coach, George Husack, and toured the indoor football practice facility, and the set of the Nick Saban Show inside the College’s Digital Media Center.


After an intense week of diving headfirst into sports communication, they traveled home a step ahead of their peers. Through hands-on learning and classroom discussions, 50 students like Luke and Cheney discovered a variety of career opportunities surrounding sports communication at the very first CAMP. They engaged in specialized skill seminars, interactive presentations from industry professionals and C&IS faculty, a team lip-sync battle, collaborative workshops and a final group campaign.

“Getting experience through the campaign helped me hone my skills and develop as a communicator,” said Luke. “We were able to participate in a press conference with the UA men’s tennis and women’s gymnastics teams, which gave me valuable experience I can use as an aspiring sportscaster.”

Before ever stepping foot on campus as a college freshman, CAMP participants experienced what it’s like to learn from some of the nation’s leading educators in areas such as advertising, public relations, video production, news media and public speaking. The participants were immersed in an atmosphere that offered a real glimpse into what college is like.

“It was very beneficial to work with professors from The University in a smaller, group setting when it came time to work on our skills,” said Cheney. “I was one of the people in my group not as accustomed to visual design, so having the professors there to help teach us the skills we needed was awesome!”

No matter the task at hand—a skill session with a C&IS faculty member or taking notes during the hype video presentation from Crimson Tide Productions—CAMP encouraged participants to grow in areas where they may have had little experience. Introducing high school students to highly technical camera and production equipment and industry-leading, video and photography editing software comes with a steep learning curve. The students rose to the challenge and produced campaigns worthy of the UA Athletics teams they represented.

“A part of CAMP that was difficult for me was video editing,” said Luke. “I had never attempted it before, and it was very tough to learn at first. The faculty and CAMP leaders were extremely helpful, and I improved in two or three days.”

Our award-winning faculty members worked alongside CAMP participants in state-of-the-art University facilities using some of the most cutting-edge equipment and software available.


Whether it is print journalism or a web-based video broadcast, finishing assignments under a deadline somewhat defines the communication industry. CAMP participants gained valuable experience completing their campaigns while working against the clock. The adversity of a hard deadline and the teamwork needed to complete a major project went hand in hand in forging relationships.

“This was by far one of the best experiences I have ever had, bonding with the people at CAMP,” said Cheney. From my roommates to my team members and even to participants who were on other project teams, I formed amazing friendships which will last.”

Luke agrees.

“I got to meet a multitude of peers with similar interests and learn from them,” said Luke. “I still stay in contact with them, and made many new friends I would not have if I did not attend CAMP.”

C&IS CAMP brought together students from across the country to experience the
world of sports communication. Altogether, this new program required a year of preparation and collaboration from C&IS faculty and staff, partners in UA Athletics and a small army of student leaders. According to Luke, it was all worthwhile.

This experience was one of the best I have ever had in my life. Before CAMP, I was not really considering The University of Alabama as an option for college, but after CAMP, it is number one on my list.


Registration is now live for C&IS CAMP 2018! For frequently asked questions, registration information and pricing, visit our CAMP website here.

Secret Meals for Hungry Children Feeds 1,200

Over the last 15 semesters, more than 440 public relations students have fed over 1,200 children, raising a combined $149,791.18 to date.

Susan Daria’s APR 419, Concepting and Implementation, takes public relations students and gives them a semester-long project that benefits West Alabama’s needy children through Secret Meals for Hungry Children.

The class allows students to use skills they learn in their public relations courses to attract media attention, earn social media placements and radio spots. This semester, 37 students earned four WVUA feature stories, five articles, two iHeart Radio announcements, a spot on the Kip Tyner Show, a feature on the University’s website and various other social media placements. They raised over $11,890 which will feed more than 84 local children.

SMHC works with teachers and school counselors to place pre-made food packs into each needy child’s backpack while they are at recess on Fridays. Daria began partnering with Alabama Credit Union and her students in 2011 to support this organization.

“Just when I think they have tried it all, my students come up with even more unique ways to engage and educate the public about childhood hunger and simple ways to make a positive change, locally,” said Daria. “Their ideas have been everything from a fishing tournament to a spin-a-thon to a battle of the bands event! You name it. What inspires them, inspires me, and then we all work together to figure out how to make their ideas come to life! It is really gratifying.”

C&IS students are positively impacting the community where they live. For more information about SMHC, visit their website.

The group also has a YouTube channel, where you can check out many of the various project this class has produced to raise money to feed children in need.