Huskers participate in Most Promising Multicultural Students program

Huskers participate in Most Promising Multicultural Students program

Wellesley Michael, Anna Fobair, Julia Nguyen, Carlos Velasco and Amy Sturthers pose during the multicultural scholars conference in New York City.
Courtesy photo
Wellesley Michael, Anna Fobair, Julia Nguyen, Carlos Velasco and Amy Sturthers pose during the multicultural scholars conference in New York City.

Four University of Nebraska–Lincoln students participated in the American Advertising Federation's Most Promising Multicultural Students program. The program connects the advertising industry with the nation’s top multicultural college seniors. The students recently attended a four-day conference in New York City where they had the opportunity to network with top industry leaders.

The students, Anna Fobair, Wellesley Michael, Julia Nguyen and Carlos Velasco, attended the conference with Amy Struthers, interim dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Fobair is a senior studying advertising and public relations and broadcasting. Michael and Nguyen graduated in December with majors in advertising and public relations and journalism. Velasco is a graphic design major in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts. This was the largest number of Nebraska students to participate in the program.

The multicultural student program helps the industry’s workforce better reflect the diversity of today’s society.

“These programs are important because diversity is essential for the industry to really advance and work in modern day,” Velasco said. “Often times we see ads go out that you truly wonder ‘Was no one really there to say how problematic this messaging was?’ And people also target demographics in ways that are not really representative. I think that the more diversity in backgrounds we can bring into the industry, the better it will be.”

During the conference, participating students had the opportunity to visit major ad agencies and media companies, attend workshops, participate in interviews and network.

“While the intention behind programs like MPMS stems from a place of well-meaning, in reality, it should be normal to hire people of color,” Nguyen said. “There shouldn’t have to be a huge, extravagant event showcasing talented, multicultural students. While nice, it should simply be the norm.

The program has been working to make hiring people of color in the advertising industry the norm since 1997. Since then, more than 800 students and 220 colleges have participated. Many of the scholars attribute success in their careers to being part of the program.

“I came back with a job offer, more interview opportunities and lots of new LinkedIn connections,” Michael said. “This has been a big leap into my advertising career.”

While students get the opportunity to network with professionals, they also get to connect with other talented students.

“The biggest takeaway of the program for me was the opportunity to make new connections,” Fobair said. “There were 49 other highly accomplished advertising students that I could potentially be working with in the near future.”

As a part of the Most Promising Multicultural Student program, each student was asked to write a tagline and hashtag that promoted their talents and build their personal brand. The Nebraska students' responses were:

Fobair: #fosteringinclusivity; “From foster care to fostering inclusivity”

Michael: #mindfulcommunicator; “I believe mindful communications can spark movements, and I’m playing with fire”

Nguyen: #PurposeFuelsPassion; “Step into your purpose and speak from this place of truth”

Velasco: #PurposefulDesign; “Creating Change Through Purposeful Design”

Fobair graduates in May and plans to move to New York City to work at an advertising agency. Michael graduated in December 2017 and will start at Presley Media in Papillion. Nguyen graduated in December 2017 and is volunteering with Workaway in Hawaii. Velasco graduates in May and hopes to find a position focused on branding and creative direction in lifestyle and fashion industries.