COMMENCEMENT 2021: CELEBRATING TWO REMARKABLE, RESILIENT CLASSES
The 2021 Brandcenter Commencement was unlike any other in Brandcenter history. We were thankful for the opportunity to come together in person and celebrate all 105 members of the Class of 2021—something that hasn't been possible since before the pandemic. Given that the Class of 2020 ceremony was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, all 2020 graduates were invited back to Richmond to attend this year.
The ceremony also recognized long-time professor Kelly O'Keefe, who retired from the Brandcenter in late 2019 and now serves as managing partner and CEO of Brand Federation.
2021 JOB PLACEMENT
While the world is certainly not back to normal just yet, we're seeing a surge in employment opportunities just in time for the Class of 2021 to enter the work force. As of June 1, 58% of recent graduates have accepted positions across a variety of agencies, brands, and consultancies.
Shrinidhi Vijay (AD, 2022) will work with Innocean as part of the 2021 MAIP Fellowship Program.
SUMMER 2021 INTERNSHIPS
Our rising second-years are expanding their horizons and interning at a variety of companies this summer. Students are already making waves at some of the top agencies (such as BBDO, Deutsch, Erich & Kallman, and The Martin Agency), consultancies (such as clarkmcdowall and Two Things) and brands (such as J&J Design Studio, Walmart, Corning, and Capital One), giving them a range of experiences to bring back for year two. While most internships are virtual, some companies are offering in-person or hybrid opportunities.
Follow our Instagram in June and July for student takeovers, giving you an inside look at what internship life is like.
BCX STRATEGIC & CULTURAL LEADERSHIP SERIES
We’re less than two months out from the BCX Strategic & Cultural Leadership Series beginning August 2. Seven industry executives will guide participants on a journey to become more empowering leaders and harness the power of organizational culture.
Brandcenter alumni can take advantage of the 10% registration discount for all individual BCX programs. Email our BCX team with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ASHLEIGH BLUMER KOHLITZ SCHOLARSHIP
The Brandcenter community is heartbroken by the passing of alum Ashleigh Blumer Kohlitz (CBM, 2011), who fought a courageous battle with brain cancer.
We're honoring Ashleigh with the creation of the Ashleigh Blumer Kohlitz Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship will be available to future Creative Brand Management students at the Brandcenter.
The Ashleigh Blumer Kohlitz Scholarship is now available on our Brandcenter Giving page. If you would like to make a contribution towards the scholarship in Ashleigh's memory, please visit the link below and type the scholarship name in the search bar.
REMEMBERING DR. JUDY VANSLYKE TURK
VCU lost a foundational leader in May with the passing of Dr. Judy VanSlyke Turk.
Judy served the VCU community as interim director of the Brandcenter (2002-2003), director of the VCU Robertson School, and Professor Emeritus. She was a world-renowned communications scholar and practitioner. The Public Relations Society of America prepared this tribute for Judy upon her passing.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
FOUR ALUMS NAMED AD AGE A-LIST FINALISTS
Congratulations to the following four Brandcenter alums for being named finalists in the 2021 Ad Age A-List & Creativity Awards:
- Tim Gordon (CW, 2008) - Finalist, Chief Creative Officer of the Year, Droga5
- Yahkeema Moffitt (CW, 2012) - Finalist, Creative of the Year, Wieden+Kennedy
- Zack Stergar (ST, 2013) and Jessica Sartoretto (CBM, 2013) - Finalists, Strategists of the Year
ADWEEK CREATIVE 100 FEATURES FOUR ALUMS
In their annual celebration of today's top creative professionals, Adweek named four Brandcenter alums to the Creative 100 list. Congratulations to:
- Roger Hailes (CW, 2001) - The Martin Agency
- Charles Hodges (CW, 2009) - Arts & Letters
- Amber Justis (AD, 2001) - The Many
- Marybeth Ledesma (AD, 2012) - Droga5
RICHMOND AD SHOW HONORS BRANDCENTER STUDENTS AND ALUMS
When the Richmond Ad Show cannonballs rolled out on June 3, Brandcenter alums and students took home some of the top honors.
Jessica Collins (ST, 2010), undergraduate professor at the VCU Robertson School and founder of the VCU Camp ADventure, was named Ad Person of the Year. Recent grads David Ligon (AD, 2021) and Nathan Bennet (CW, 2021) took home Best in Show in the student category for their tourism campaign titled, "Alcatraz Island: It Will Change You" (pictured).
PINTEREST // YOU JUST MIGHT SURPRISE YOURSELF
Brandcenter alums collaborating on the client-side and agency-side? Always a win.
Pinterest encourages users to try something new as part of their platform, 'You Just Might Surprise Yourself.' The creative explores how Pinterest can help people find new and exciting ideas to act on.
Congrats to Pinterest Brand Lead Michael Whitten (ST, 2010) as well as Maria Kouninski (AD, 2017) and Jenny Yoon (CW, 2017) and their team at Droga5.
NBA LOW SHOT // SIDE PROJECT
With the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFT), the NBA started a company called NBA Top Shot, selling the best NBA moments digitally. The site quickly became a hit in the NFT and sports spaces.
In response, Steve Nass (CW, 2014) and Jeffrey Rozman (AD, 2015) started NBA Low Shot, which "sells" the worst moments of the NBA for free ($0.00). The site quickly gained popularity and was recently acquired by Mark Cuban.