Welcome to The LAGRANT Foundation Blog

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Natalie Torres
My name is Natalie Torres and I am a first-generation college graduate from Denver, Colorado. I have a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a minor in Ethnic Studies from CU Boulder. Currently, I am the Social Media and Communications Coordinator of a web-based registry. This role led me to recognize I am passionate about communicating and learning about consumers. Therefore, I want to study a discipline that allows me to create positive messages that appeal to marginalized groups. 

I made the decision to pursue a master’s degree in marketing as I believe this will help me further refine my skills and open the doors to new professional endeavors. While I am excited about pursuing a graduate degree, I’m nervous about how I will pay for my education. My search for scholarship opportunities led me to find The LAGRANT Foundation scholarship. I feel fortunate that I found TLF as they not only provide financial assistance for graduate students, but they grant exceptional mentoring, internship, and professional development opportunities. As the first in my family to graduate from college and pursue a master’s degree, navigating this new chapter can feel challenging and overwhelming. Underrepresented, minority college graduates like myself greatly need the professional, emotional support and guidance that is offered by TLF

I feel blessed to be a recipient of this scholarship and beyond receiving the award, I look forward to staying involved with TLF as I want to mentor other minority college students. I am fortunate to have a solid support system; therefore, I will always try to give back and help other underrepresented students.

The journey of pursuing my graduate degree has not been the easiest, but none of this would be possible without the support of my family, friends and TLF who believe in me and my dreams. 

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Krystal Robinson
27 years ago, on June 6, Krystal Robinson was born. Fast forward to 2020, Krystal is now an MBA student at Wayne State University (WSU) where she is pursuing a graduate degree in International Business and Entrepreneurship. Krystal also attended WSU for her undergrad, majoring in Business Marketing. Krystal desired to purse marketing in part of her passion for creativity and felt this desire could be fulfilled in advertising. Krystal decided to return to higher education to pursue an MBA in entrepreneurship because she wishes to create an organization that will serve her community.


Krystal first heard about TLF through a Fastweb Scholarship email. Krystal was inspired by TLF and appreciated the work that the Foundation was doing for students of minorities. Krystal believes in TLF’s mission because since she has been in the advertising industry, she feels there are not enough people who look like herself who work in her field. With this scholarship, Krystal will be able to finish her final year of graduate school strong and continue to grow in her career.

After Krystal earns her MBA, she expects to continue working in advertising and start working on her own organization that will strive to support students’ understanding of different career options. Krystal wants to pursue these goals because she too lacked career support and wants other students in her community to have the support and resources they need. Bringing diversity into advertising is important because every voice should be heard and properly displayed.

Beyond receiving this scholarship, Krystal wants to continue to stay involved with TLF to support other students. Krystal believes the work TLF does is important because diversity is important in any work environment, especially in our field.


Krystal would like to thank her mother and fiancé who both have always been big supporters in her educational and career journey.

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient MIcaiala Hamner
My name is Micaiala Hamner and I am currently a second-year graduate student at the University of West Florida, where I am pursuing my degree in Strategic Communication and Leadership. I wanted to pursue a master’s degree in the field of communication because of the versatility within the field, alongside my passion for making a difference. I am interested in the field of international public relations with an emphasis on scientific communication. 
I first heard about TLF from my former classmate. I applied for the scholarship because the mission and vision of the organization aligns with my own. Finding scholarships at the graduate level is rare and even more infrequent for minorities solely in the fields of marketing, communication, advertising, and PR.  I strive to be a change-agent in society and this scholarship provides me with the opportunity to do so, all while being surrounded by likeminded individuals. With this scholarship, I am now able to complete my final semesters at UWF without facing any financial hardship. My focus can now exclusively be on preparing for my pursuit of a doctoral degree. 
Once I earn my degree, a long-term goal is to work as a director for an international public relations government agency. My short-term goal would be to work in academia, teaching students about scientific communication.  I aspire to be an advocate for women of color by making a unique contribution to the field of communication.
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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Austin Smith
My name is Austin Smith and I am currently a graduate student at San Diego State University where I am pursuing my Masters degree in mass media and journalism. I wanted to get my degree in the journalism field because I believe our ability to share ideas, information, and experiences is how we evolve. I want my education and experience to be proof that people of color need and deserve to be involved in conversations that shape our country. 

I first heard about TLF from one of my very supportive professors. I wanted to apply to the scholarship because I recognized how much the foundation cares for members and communities it serves. I believe in TLF’s mission because our society will only improve when we take responsibility for that growth. That is especially important in communities of color. I want to be a part of that movement. With this scholarship, I am now able to support myself through this current national health crisis and focus on the last year of my Masters program.  

Once I earn my degree, I’d eventually like to create a business that provides the local community with the education and space for minorities to thrive in creative, informative, and business writing. I want to pursue these goals because minorities are sometimes left out of policy discussions and deprived of creative writing platforms. Bringing diversity into my field of work is important because the inclusion of divergent thinking is vitally important to journalism and greatly needed.

Beyond receiving the scholarship, I want to continue to stay involved with TLF because every professional needs the support and networking provided by foundations like TLF. I think the work TLF is doing is important because minority students and professionals need to know they have a places to go and organizations to rely upon as they navigate in a world that sometimes feels like it wasn’t built for them. 

I would like to thank my mom, Cathy Smith, for being my confidant and biggest cheerleader as I took the most unconventional of routes to get here.

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Socheat Tauch
My name is Socheat Tauch and I am currently a graduate student at the University of Oregon, where I am studying Sports Product Management. I wanted to explore this degree program because I want to use my creativity and enter the sports industry and be surrounded by technical products.

I first heard about TLF through my initial scholarship research specifically for minorities and underrepresented student populations. I applied to the scholarship because I wanted to join a coalition of like-minded students-of-color who are interested in joining the creative marketing and advertising field. I believe in TLF’s mission because, when given the platform, students-of-color bring immense value to the workforce through their rich, cultural experiences. With this scholarship, I am now able to better prepare and educate myself as I enter the sports product industry

Once I earn my degree, I hope to work as a product line manager or a product developer for a top sportswear company like Nike, Columbia Sportswear, or Adidas in the United States and/or overseas in Asia. I want to pursue these goals because I want to make all athletes and consumers perform at their best through market and trend research, data analysis, and design and development processes. Bringing diversity into my field of work is important because I believe more people-of-color need to be represented in the sports product industry. Diverse teams are able to possess crucial critical thinking skills and alternative ways of reasoning due to their individual and unique lived experiences.


Beyond receiving the scholarship, I want to continue to stay involved with TLF because giving back to this foundation as they continue their work will only encourage the next round of students-of-color to obtain and utilize these same resources as I did. I think the work TLF is doing is important because it gives students-of-color an opportunity, not only to be heard, but also gives them the foundation to succeed in their career journey.

Thank you for getting this far and reading my blog. I want to give a big thank you to the TLF for selecting me as a 2020 graduate award recipient; Shelly G. for writing an awesome letter of reference; my partner Coua X. for helping me proofread my application submission and supporting me in chasing my dreams; and of course to my greatest of friends, Vickie G. and Brian S. for being an awesome sound board and source of inspiration as I go through my highs and lows of my graduate program, online zoom classes, and phases of uncertainty during the COVID pandemic.

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Jessica Gresham
My name is Jessica Gresham and I am currently a first year graduate student at the University of Southern California (USC), where I am pursuing my master’s degree in strategic public relations. I decided to pursue a career in communications because I fell in love with storytelling. I aspire to combine my passion for communications with my commitment to social impact and my interest in entertainment. I imagine myself leading brand communications and corporate social responsibility for a major entertainment company like Netflix or WarnerMedia, with the goal to tell stories and create moments that inspire, connect, and improve the lives of others. 

I first became familiar with The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) when I worked as an intern on the communications team after graduating from college. Years later, I applied to the scholarship program because I needed financial assistance with my tuition and I believe in TLF’s mission. Increasing diversity in my field of work is important because now, more than ever, it has become imperative that brands have marketing, advertising and PR teams that reflect not only their consumers, but the world around them. By increasing diversity, brands can tap into new perspectives and make more creative and better informed decisions. I believe that the more diverse a team is, the more equipped it is to ask the important questions, create meaningful dialogue and challenge comfort zones. 

This scholarship helps reduce some of the financial burden that comes with pursuing a master’s degree and I’m very grateful to TLF and its board members for selecting me as a scholarship recipient two years in a row. Beyond receiving the scholarship, I want to continue to stay involved with TLF because I truly believe in its mission.

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Tiffany Martinez
My name is Tiffany Martinez and I am a first-year graduate student at the University of North Texas, where I am pursuing my degree in Journalism and a Public Relations certificate. I began to pursue this degree through a fast-track program as relationships are important to me, it is versatile, and I love writing.


As a first-generation student and Latina, it is an invaluable experience and blessing to be a TLF scholarship recipient. This allows me to focus on my studies and other opportunities, such as conducting research in the public relations industry. I first heard about TLF as an undergraduate, and I was encouraged by a friend to apply for a scholarship for graduate school. Moreover, I wanted to apply as it aligned with my values and desire of diversifying the field. Considering my experiences and others, I believe in TLF’s mission because representation matters and voices need to be heard, especially now.


Upon earning my degree, I would like to work at an agency to tell various stories in different industries and work on intercultural communication projects. Diversity in the public relations industry is important to create understanding, internally and externally, and authenticity is invaluable. Eventually, I would like to go into corporate relations and even teaching. I want to pursue these goals because there needs to be active change in implementing different perspectives through ethical and diverse practices.


The work that TLF is doing is important, as not everyone has the same access to resources and guidance to grow professionally and personally. Beyond receiving the scholarship, I want to continue to stay involved with TLF because of its dedication and work to help students like me and make changes in our fields. To have an amazing support system is meaningful in more ways than one.

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Taylor Garner
My name is Taylor Garner and I am currently entering my second year of graduate school at The University of Alabama, where I am pursuing my master’s degree in advertising and public relations. I wanted to get my degree in advertising and public relations because I wanted a deeper understanding of the industry in order to become a skilled practitioner. 

I first heard about TLF through The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations’ Student Mentoring Session in Fall 2019. I wanted to apply to the scholarship because I believe that I can achieve my goals through the opportunities provided. I believe in TLF’s mission because I have seen firsthand how this opportunity has helped other recipients achieve their goals. With this scholarship, I am now able to continue pursuing my dream of becoming a top professional in the industry. 

Once I earn my degree, I hope to work in sports communications for a team, foundation or major company like ESPN because I have a passion for sports and storytelling. Bringing diversity into my field of work is important because as a woman and an ethnic minority, we are underrepresented in the sports world. I want to prove that minority women can, too, succeed in this industry.

Beyond receiving the scholarship, I want to continue to stay involved with TLF because I have a passion for helping others achieve their goals. I hope that through my involvement in TLF, I not only can gain the necessary tools needed for me to succeed, but I also can pass along my knowledge to those in the future. 

I would like to thank my family for always supporting me, my friends for always pushing me to be the best I can be and Dr. Kenon Brown for being an amazing mentor.

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Kaelan Hicks
My name is Kaelan Hicks, and I am currently a graduate student at the University of Southern California, where I am pursuing my degree in Communication Management, with a concentration on Marketing. I wanted to get my degree in marketing communication because I am fascinated by how marketers use their creativity to attract consumers to products. 

I first heard about TLF through USC’s website portal. I wanted to apply to the scholarship because of the opportunity to participate in career-building activities and to be able to meet industry professionals in the advertising and marketing industry.

I believe in TLF’s mission because I think that increasing ethnic diversity in corporations creates better approaches for deduction and learning and causes us to comprehend other perspectives. With this scholarship, I am now able to advance my professional development and certification goals that I have set for myself, which, in effect, will allow me to further my career in marketing.

Once I earn my degree, I hope to pursue a career in marketing and become a digital marketing specialist at an innovative, exciting company. I want to pursue these goals my dream goal is to become a Chief Marketing Officer.

Bringing diversity into my field of work is important because, given that advertising and marketing are primarily concerned with the dissemination of messages to the public, having a culturally diverse work environment in these fields will help to improve how these messages are communicated to the public.

Beyond receiving the scholarship, I want to continue to stay involved with TLF because I hope that one day I can also help a student reach their goals. I think the work TLF is doing is vital because it allows students like me to pursue and further their careers in advertising, marketing, and public relations.

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Saba Haroon
My name is Saba Haroon and I am a second year graduate student at University of Houston-Clear Lake, pursuing a degree in Digital Media Studies. As a female with a minority background, I sought this degree to give myself opportunities to visually create and tell stories using my outlook and creative direction. 

I heard about TLF through my sister Nimra, who is also a previous recipient of the scholarship. I applied to the scholarship for financial assistance and more importantly, to become an ambassador of the Pakistani-American community studying and striving to enter the communication and media industries. I believe in TLF’s mission because minority and multicultural representation is imperative in communications to accurately reflect the ever-growing range of diversity existing in the U.S. This scholarship allows me to pursue a graduate internship of my choice in the upcoming semester and even better, graduate debt free. YAY! 

After graduation, I intend to combine my foreign language (I’m trilingual!) and digital media backgrounds to become a graphic designer and visual storyteller. Through visual mediums, my goals are to inspire, help our society learn about the world and achieve collective paths towards greatness. Adding diversity into my field of work is critical with the rapid increase of globalization and ever-evolving social, cultural and technological trends overlapping between societies, cultures and nations alike. More stories need to be told from the perspectives of minorities and diverse individuals who represent the broadening consumer database. 

Beyond receiving the scholarship, I want to stay involved with TLF because as trailblazers for our communities, it is our responsibility to pay it forward. The work TLF is doing is tremendous because it is acknowledging representation and encouraging stories from all walks of life to be told. 

A big THANK YOU to my family for their endless support and TLF for selecting me as a 2020 scholarship recipient! This award gives me all the more confidence to chase my dreams, inspire others and make change happen.

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Christopher Porras
I am Christopher Porras, and I recently completed my first year at NYU Steinhardt where I am pursuing my MA in Media, Culture, and Communication. I study Media, Culture, and Communication because I believe the most powerful thing we can share as humans are our stories, and I want to work in Public Relations, Marketing, or Advertising, where I can cultivate the truest version of those stories about my communities. 

I first learned about TLF through an online search for professional development opportunities. I applied to the scholarship because I knew the mentorship and networking experiences would prove invaluable as I move into the next stage of my career. I believe in TLF’s mission because the value of representation is inherently based on its authenticity and honesty. When people of color are a company’s intended audience, our communities should be approached and our stories presented with all the respect and nuance they deserve. 

After I graduate, I hope to move into a marketing role where I can develop campaigns that engage the LGBTQ and Latinx communities in a positive manner. I want to pursue these goals because in 2020, we’re still seeing out of touch marketing campaigns that incense rather than inspire our communities, and bringing diversity into my field of work is important because our rich cultures are incredible resources for storytelling, and not just the untapped revenue potential some companies see us as. 

I think the work TLF is doing is important because I believe in “lifting as you climb,” and I hope that as I achieve success, I can (with TLF’s help) provide mentorship to other young people hoping to do this work. 

A huge thank you to TLF for selecting me as a scholarship recipient, which has made it possible for me to take an additional course at NYU, and equip me with additional skills that will prime me for success.

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Mitchella Gilbert
My name is Mitchella Gilbert and I am a rising 2nd year MBA student at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, where I am pursuing specializations in entrepreneurship and leadership. I enrolled in an MBA program because I want to cultivate my leadership, product development, and marketing skills.

I first heard about TLF through Anderson’s Career Center. I applied to the scholarship because I love developing and marketing products that help individuals become better people. Also, TLF’s mission—to increase the number of ethnic minorities in the fields of advertising and marketing—aligns with my career goals. With this scholarship, I will have more resources to focus on product development and marketing for my startup.

Once I earn my MBA, I aspire to become a business leader who develops and promotes diverse talent in the CPG product space. I believe in fair treatment and the demand for it from all minorities who are given less opportunity in the business world.

Beyond receiving the scholarship, I want to continue to stay involved with TLF because of the community and the opportunities they provide scholars and alums. I would like to thank Francis Quimby (UCLA Anderson Career Services), Sharon Uche (TLF 2017), and Cortlan White (TLF 2017) for supporting me throughout the TLF selection process. I would also like to thank the TLF selection committee for this opportunity. I will not let you down!

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Michaela Alexander
My name is Michaela Alexander. I am entering my last year at the University of Alabama where I am pursuing a MA in Advertising and Public Relations. After earning my degree, I want to work in corporate communication. One of my main influences for pursuing a career in public relations stimulated from my internship experiences. I am intrigued by space, the military, science, and the automotive industry. I embrace the challenges of gaining more knowledge in technology and science-based industries. I enjoy learning about those industries and finding ways to relay the information for everyone to understand. 

One day I would love to contribute to the diversity and inclusion aspect of the industry. Many positions are opening involving diversity and inclusion. I am passionate about inclusivity and I want to help companies become more inclusive and accepting of minorities. A part of the drive behind me wanting to work in corporate communication is the fact that I feel that minorities need a voice in companies, especially those that are aspiring to or currently working globally. For a company to be successful, there is a need to be culturally aware and have a diversity of thought when it comes to creating content and connecting with the public. With the United States being as diverse as it is, the lack of equal representation drives me to work harder to ensure that there is. 

I am extremely grateful that The LAGRANT Foundation has awarded me this scholarship and mentorship opportunity. I first learned about the scholarship at The Plank Center’s Diversity and Inclusion Summit in Chicago last year. Receiving the scholarship from The LAGRANT Foundation showed me that they are supportive of my dreams, and also that they are dedicated to uplifting other minorities in the industry.
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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Emmanuela Ebunilo
My name is Emmanuela Ebunilo. I am a 2nd-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Science in Marketing Analytics from California State University, Long Beach. I chose to pursue this degree to hone my qualitative marketing skills and develop analytics skills needed to advance my career. 

I discovered TLF through a career center job posting when I was an undergraduate in 2012, and I applied for the scholarship because The LAGRANT Foundation’s mission resonated with me. TLF goes above and beyond to offer opportunities to underrepresented BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) beyond scholarships. As an undergraduate, I received two TLF scholarships and participated in many career-focused events. These opportunities opened many doors for me and my gratitude to TLF continues as a 2020 graduate scholarship recipient. With this scholarship, I can worry less about how to fund my post-graduate education and focus on learning. Given all the challenges of 2020, this scholarship, and the TLF network, are a blessing. 

Once I earn my degree, I hope to work as a marketing or brand analyst and then leverage this experience into a product marketing manager role. Ultimately, I want my career to culminate in a CMO role - leading an influential brand and creating impactful and paradigm-shifting work. I see a CMO role as the marriage of two core passions (social justice and brand development), so reaching this goal is extremely important to me. Bringing diversity into the marketing field is not only important from a business perspective but a human perspective. The world would be a better place if there were more mutual understanding between disparate groups. Increasing diversity in fields that currently lack diversity facilitates more mutual understanding which leads to better business outputs. 

I continue to stay involved with TLF because this organization has supported me beyond the scholarship and continues to do so. Because of organizations like this, future generations of BIPOC might live in a world where diversity organizations don’t have to exist. That is a world I would love to be part of. 

Thank you to Kim Hunter, Camille Frigillana, and Christopher Juarez, and everyone at The LAGRANT Foundation for your support over the years and for this most recent scholarship award. 

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Marleny DeLeon
My name is Marleny De León and I am currently a first-year graduate student at Vanderbilt University, where I am pursuing my MBA with a concentration in marketing and strategy. An MBA offers me the means to effectively engage innovative strategies in envisioning, creating, and sustaining new enterprises to help the historically underserved and disenfranchised.  

As an acculturated Guatemalan Maya, whose mother was forced to drop out of first grade to help raise her seventeen siblings, the LAGRANT Foundation’s mission speaks dearly to my heart. The invaluable resources I will gain through the TLF Scholarship, such as professional development and vital alliances, will ultimately help ease my financial peace of mind, knowing that I can fully concentrate on my studies. 

After earning my MBA, I hope to be uniquely-focused on educational consulting in the U.S. and possibly expand into Latin America. I want to pursue these goals because I have seen first-hand how not enough minorities have the privilege of accessing a graduate education. Through my uniquely Indigenous Latina perspective that has always worked for citizenship, educational opportunity, and enriching communities, my aim is to increase diversity and inclusion throughout business and to give back synergistically to others following in my footsteps. 

Potential leaders within marginalized communities need to be empowered so that they may engage globalization on their own terms. This is how I intend to maintain my alliance with LAGRANT. The TLF Scholarship represents an illustrious honor and I will ensure to live up to the preeminent standards of the distinguished LAGRANT Foundation, while also sharing the promise of its legacy. Growing up with many responsibilities in an immigrant community, I was not allowed even the means to dream of an MBA education; with allies such as LAGRANT, I am learning to thrive in what once seemed an impossibility.

Thank you, LAGRANT Foundation, for helping me turn my aspirations into reality!

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TLF 2020 Scholarship Recipient Rafiat Animashaun
As a second time recipient, I am truly thankful for The LAGRANT Foundation scholarship for helping my personal and career pursuits. As a Black woman, I understand how much an education and degree can strongly impact the trajectory of my career, but also the financial burden it can be striving to attain it. Receiving this scholarship will allow me to focus on my studies and pursue challenging yet rewarding professional opportunities.

I was raised in a household where my Nigerian parents spoke Yoruba and immersed me in our culture, as well as surrounded by and interacted with people of different backgrounds. I grew an insatiable appetite to learn from, understand and appreciate all cultures and languages. Unfortunately, as a child, this desire was not met through entertainment. Popular TV shows and movies rarely had people who reflected the diversity I saw. 

But the culture is changing, and the industry needs to too. Shows with minority representation, such as FX’s Atlanta, Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and Master of None and ABC’S Black-ish, Fresh of the Boat and Speechless, show a movement towards diverse casts and storylines, and audiences are receiving them with passion and hunger for more.

In response to this clear demand for better and accurate minority representation in the media, I launched my agency IRE PR + PRODUCTION in early 2020. I aspire to grow this agency into an entertainment PR firm that focuses on creating a space for minority-focused stories, content and people.

I have been fortunate to have the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation as my first client and my show, Ameri-Kinda, be greenlighted for production by the University of Southern California’s Artemis. I hope to use these first wins as a foundation for an agency that seeks to help marginalized communities gain the voice and means to advocate for themselves.

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TLF 2020 Graduate Scholarship Recipient Paul Bernabe
My name is Paul Bernabe and I am entering my second year at The City College of New York where I am pursuing my MPS in Branding + Integrated Communications (BIC). I wanted to get my Masters degree to grow my skills and follow through on a career switch years in the making. 

I first heard about The LAGRANT Foundation through BIC’s program director, Nancy Tag. When I looked into TLF, I immediately felt a strong connection to its mission. Increasing the representation of ethnic minorities not only helps open doors for us but it helps show those coming after us that they are just as capable and deserving of going through those doors. 

After earning my Masters degree, I hope to work as a copywriter at a creative agency here in New York. I’m pursuing these goals not just for myself but so that people on the same journey can have someone to point their compass towards. Bringing diversity into our field is imperative — diversity not only helps give a voice to others, but it in turn makes the collective work we do stronger! 

Beyond receiving the scholarship, I want to continue to stay involved with TLF because I want to be a mentor for others. It would be my honor to help guide others and give them the tools to bridge any gaps they may face. 

I’d like to thank my program director Nancy Tag and my track director Gerardo Blumenkrantz for being such strong mentors and guides on this journey. Last but not least, I’d especially like to thank my wife Kristine for her unrelenting support through all the long days and nights.

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A Message from FleishmanHillard Account Supervisor and TLF Alum Joseph Apodaca
My name is Joseph Apodaca and I received The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) scholarship in 2012. I received the scholarship while I was pursuing my degree in Journalism and Mass Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations at California State University, Long Beach. I successfully received my degree in 2013, a feat that would not have been possible without the support of TLF.
Thanks to TLF, I had the pleasure of being able to intern for the Foundation and gain a greater knowledge of the non-profit sector, while also learning more about the agency side of the public relations world. Because of TLF, I was able to parlay the degree I earned at Cal State Long Beach to my career at FleishmanHillard – a global public relations agency I have been fortunate to call my home for the past 5+ years. Most importantly, this scholarship has helped me feel empowered to make diversity a priority in all facets of my job – whether it comes to prospective team members or campaigns for clients.
I am a strong proponent of TLF’s mission because I am living proof that their support has impacted me in an extremely positive way. I continue to stay involved because I want fellow diverse individuals to not feel limited by circumstance and to go after their dreams without hesitation. I believe it is important to continue the great work TLF is doing, and we will be able to do so with the support from you. 
Please consider joining me in supporting The LAGRANT Foundation so that we can continue the great work of shaping the future of bright, diverse leaders!
Joseph Apodaca
Account Supervisor, FleishmanHillard
2012 TLF Scholarship Recipient
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A Message from Weber Shandwick VP and TLF Alumna Danielle Calhoun
My name is Danielle Calhoun and I received The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) scholarship in 2008 and 2009, while pursuing my Master of Science in Strategic Communication. I received my M.S. in 2010 and have had a successful career in the PR/marketing world, in huge part due to the support – both financial and otherwise – of TLF. 
I’m currently a Vice President at Weber Shandwick, a dream I only knew to have because of TLF. 
Let me take a step back.
After getting the call in 2008 (that I would be a recipient!), I was thrilled to learn the support was far more than financial. The awards ceremony was to be held in Los Angeles, where we met with industry leaders, visited agencies, and learned about career opportunities. When I won again the following year, they flew us to New York for even more meetings and workshops. It was during these trips that I discovered Weber Shandwick. And also discovered that – through TLF – I “knew someone in the industry.” 
Fast forward, and I’m now more than a decade into my career, and in my 7th year at Weber Shandwick – rising from Senior Associate to Vice President. I’ve stayed highly involved with TLF to host Career Development Workshops, interviewed and hired TLF alumni for intern positions, graded new scholarship applicants, and shared new job openings with the TLF network. I’m in my dream job, and have made it my mission to be that “someone you know” for rising students and TLF alumni.
Please consider joining me in supporting The LAGRANT Foundation to continue the great work of shaping the future of bright, diverse leaders!
Danielle Calhoun
Vice President, Weber Shandwick
2008 & 2009 TLF Scholarship Recipient
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A Message from TLF Alumni Leo and Lesly Rodriguez
Hello everyone, 
Our names are Leo and Lesly Rodriguez, the Rodriguez siblings. Leo received The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) scholarship in 2016 and 2017 and Lesly received the scholarship in 2018, making us one of the first sibling duos to be awarded the prestigious scholarship.
Leo pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Lesly pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, both from Georgia State University. We successfully received our degrees in 2018 and 2019, an achievement that would not have been possible without the unconditional support and guidance of TLF.
Since then, our lives and careers have had a strong focus on advancing TLF’s mission. From the moment we met the recipients, partners and TLF staff, we knew this organization and experience was full of boundless opportunity.
After graduation, Leo began his career at Target's in-house agency. His involvement in the Hispanic Business Council has allowed for the growth of D&I efforts across Target. Lesly began her career at Weber Shandwick, where she leads DEI efforts for the Atlanta office.
We are proud alumni and look forward to seeing TLF’s impact on future students for a plethora of years to come. We continue to stay in contact with a handful of TLF Alumni, and volunteer as much as we can by reviewing applications, hosting workshops and attending TLF events. It is crucial to continue the work TLF is doing because we understand the importance of mentorship, challenges minorities face every day and opportunities to uplift our community. 
Please consider supporting the incredible mission of The LAGRANT Foundation to continue shaping the future of bright, diverse leaders for generations to come!
Leo Rodriguez
Creative Project Manager, Target
2016 & 2017 TLF Scholarship Recipient
Lesly Rodriguez
Junior Associate, Weber Shandwick
2018 TLF Scholarship Recipient
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A Message from TLF Board Member Frank X. Shaw
I ran past a friend’s house this week, someone I used to have dinner with / go on walks with regularly, and whom I’ve not seen in a while. I ended my run and called him on my cool down. I love his perspective, which is so different than mine. His parents were not born in the United States, he is in a different industry than mine, he has a wicked sense of humor that surprises me and makes me laugh, but which I would never come up with on my own. And yet we are friends.
I asked him how he was doing, and he wondered if there was a single word that captured the emotions of anger, frustration, helplessness and despair, which I think is a good question, and should have an answer, because currently it is how I feel much of the time (someone will now tell me there is a German word for just this thing, because there is ALWAYS a German word). We commiserated. And when we were done, I thought about the absolute need to influence change, now more than ever.
Like all of you, I see what is going on in the United States and around the world. Videos fill my social media feed; murder of an innocent man by police, and “I can’t breathe” (again) and tear gas and batons and fences. Down in Portland where I lived for 18 years, the Burnside Bridge filled with protestors laying quietly on their backs as the police approached. In the news media, talk of “dominating the battlespace” by the military, where the battlespace is HERE, and tanks and armored vehicles in small towns, for some reason I don’t understand. Over and over, senseless violence against Black and African American people. Over. And Over. Not seen, but equally present is their everyday experience, at work, in stores, on the street, when they are forced to worry about what could happen to them, simply for being in that space. 
Years ago, I participated in a grueling team multi-sport event that had me running the last three miles up a very steep hill. I said after that our team should have been named “Some, but not enough” as in, I had done some hill work, but not enough, some speed work, but not enough, some distance, but not enough for what I aspired to do. At the time, I said I had learned from this experience, but now, I wonder.
Because when it comes to systemic racism I have worked to understand, but not enough. I have donated time and money, but not enough. I have advocated for internal and external change, but not enough. Yes, this is a hard challenge. But I am seeing the challenge, not living it. This is privilege. There is no room for “some” in this equation. Each of us, wherever we are, have the capability of doing more.
Years ago, aghast at what I saw in Ferguson, Missouri, I reached out to a friend and asked what I could do. He pointed me to some resources, but closed with “Look within.” It was the best, and hardest advice I’ve ever gotten. I looked, and didn’t like what I saw. Today, I look again and know…still not enough.
I accept it is okay to feel whatever that German word is that describes the present, but not to the extent it stops me from new action. More of my time and money to the orgs that are making a difference locally and nationally, more agitation internally for more change, more work to broaden my perspective and understanding. “More, but still not enough.” That’s better. 
Frank X. Shaw
Corporate Vice President, Communications | Microsoft
The LAGRANT Foundation Board Member
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A Message from TLF Board Member Kass Sells
I am deeply saddened and angered by recent events in our country. And like many of us I’ve been searching for the right words to say, the right things to do and the right way to make a positive impact with my family, with our WE agency and our people, and in the communities WE Communications serves both here in the U.S. and around the world.
As I watch these events unfold each day I continue to be struck with the question, what can I do to help? 
First and most important, my heart goes out to the family of George Floyd and all the victims whose lives have been taken or damaged by acts of racism and injustice.
Let’s be clear — Black Lives Matter, and we cannot accept unjust killing. The senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others reflect deeply ingrained racial prejudice and injustice that still exists in our country today, but we owe it to each other and to our communities to be very clear in condemning these acts of violence.
Over the past several months, throughout this coronavirus pandemic, we’ve often heard and said, “we’re all in this together.” Ironically, that’s never been more true than it is right now. If we are going to fight racism it’s something we all have to do, as individuals and together as communities and as a nation. We must acknowledge our country’s racist past, and understand that together we can build a better future — a future where everyone contributes and feels valued.
As marketing and communications professionals we are wired to create and to act, to build plans, tell stories, and to make a difference through our words and actions. And as LAGRANT Foundation Board members we have an opportunity to take action and make a difference. 
I’ve spent the past few days thinking about what I can do to help. To my fellow communications professionals, I humbly offer the following actionable ideas:
  • Check in with your Black colleagues and employees. Ask what you can do to help and support your co-workers. Prepare yourself to listen a lot more than you speak.
  • Get involved with your organization’s employee resource group (ERG) for people of color. At WE, ours is WE PRISM. If you don’t have one, start one!
  • Connect with your clients. Proactively reach out and counsel your clients to put their money where their mouth is, and to back up statements about D&I with investments in D&I. I’m seeing great examples from brands like MicrosoftLululemon and Netflix. The outstanding responses from IntelGlossier and others should be a model for all of us.
  • Pledge your support and financial commitment to organizations that create opportunities for communicators and marketers of color. I sit on the board of The LAGRANT Foundation, a great organization whose mission is to increase the number of ethnic minorities in the fields of advertising, marketing and public relations by providing scholarships, career & professional development workshops, mentors and internships. Please give to TLF so that they continue doing the important work that needs to be done.
  • Act. Your actions speak louder than your words. The biggest thing your organization can do is to employ more people of color that represent the communities where we live and work. It’s pretty simple: Recruit, Interview and Hire more qualified Black people and people of color. Support more Black-owned businesses. Work with more Black and minority-owned vendors. Make people of color a part of your daily business operations.
  • Work together. The best work and the best relationships have come when people of different backgrounds, races, religions, genders and nationalities come together around a common goal. It’s more than just a seat at the table — it’s a voice at the table.
Personally, I know I need to do more. I need to give more people of color opportunities. I need to do more to celebrate our differences. I need to reach out more, educate myself, ask questions that make me uncomfortable and really listen to the hard answers. Right now I’m doing a lot of listening and learning. We’re having hard conversations, but ones that need to take place. I’m committed to trying, to getting started and to doing whatever I can do, and then more.
We can all learn, and we can all do better. Let’s get there and #standtogether.
Kass Sells
Global COO, President International | WE Communications
The LAGRANT Foundation Board Member
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A Message From TLF Board Member Jim Weiss
Recent events show us that racial divisions in this country are as deep and troubling as ever in history. Last week, I shared my solidarity with W2O employees, standing with all our staff to say that racism and violence cannot be tolerated in any form.
Over the past few days, I have reflected more deeply on what more we can do, as it is clear to me that our industry has not done enough. Our businesses rely on creative and innovative people. We need inclusion and diversity if we are to change, grow and transform. We are not yet inclusive enough to spur the kind of diversity needed to thrive like we could. 
We cannot sit idly and complacently by in this situation. I call on all of us, my firm included, to immediately take action and sustain a commitment to:
  • Inspire the next generation of people of color to work in our business. Standard recruiting from communications and journalism schools is not enough. We will cast a wider net and build more bridges with historically black universities, among others. W2O has a unique partnership with Syracuse University, and we are committed to replicating this work with other universities. This includes creating and implementing the right curriculum that will prepare our future workforce to hit the ground running the day we hire them.
  • Retain and advance diverse talent for the long term. We will take concrete actions to set diversity targets and share diversity metrics. We will hold leaders accountable and reward them when they make progress. We will make sure all employees feel respected and valued, and that they have an equal opportunity to grow and advance. We will make our allyship real, immediately increasing our commitment to mentorship and sponsorship to ensure people of color have a sustainable career trajectory.
  • Listen to Employee Resource Groups and employees of color. ERGs are a powerful community for companies to drive collaboration and co-creation in critical areas of growth and accountability. At W2O, our Diversity and Inclusion ERG, W2O Fusion, has never been more important than right now. This group of committed, passionate professionals has done as much, or more, than I and other leaders to ensure we’re making a positive impact during these challenging times. 
We will reinforce the importance of partnerships with groups such as The LAGRANT Foundation to champion these efforts. We will continue to work together to improve our profession across agencies and companies, with the broader goal of addressing systemic racism. That is one way we can change ourselves to change society.
Those in our profession know how to listen, learn and engage. We will rededicate ourselves to the important mission of this Foundation, which has done so much good for so many years. 
In Solidarity and Action,
Jim Weiss
Founder & CEO, W2O
The LAGRANT Foundation Board Member
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A Message From TLF Board Member Juan Carlos Molleda

The events of the last week have reminded me about the reasons I came to this country and became a U.S. citizen. Throughout history, people here have united to denounce injustice and show solidarity with those who suffer. It is why I chose to make the United States my home.
I feel the need to say his name. Although we do not all face the same obstacles as George Floyd and other victims of police brutality have, an oppressive system serves none of us. This is a crucial time in our society’s evolution, and despite all the stress and anxiety we are already facing, now is the time to stand up and be part of the change. To show that we stand together.
Despite the tragic and extreme events we have been witnessing and experiencing, as a professional community we must reaffirm our commitment to social justice and reject racism and violence. At the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, for instance, we have a responsibility to make a difference in the lives of our undergraduate and graduate students, who will go on to improve this imperfect society as journalists and communicators. When it comes to The LAGRANT Foundation, TLF continues its mission of supporting and fostering the next generation of diverse talent in advertising, marketing, and public relations, who may one day become the leaders of these industries.
All of us must work harder — and with renewed sense of urgency — to educate ourselves and engage one another on the historic context of last week’s and similar events, and the role of news and other media and communication organizations in sustaining or challenging entrenched racism.
On top of the social unrest, we are sharing the distress of an ongoing pandemic. But as we have seen it can also bring out the best in us and crystalize our sense of purpose.
Yes, we are hurting from the disturbing events of the last week, yet we need to find purpose and hope. We all must continue to read and study, listen better, and stand up against racism and violence.
We are a professional community built on values. This is what keeps us together. We may be physically distant, but we remain socially cohesive. In the case of my academic institution, our mission is to educate the next generation of professionals and scholars who will change our increasingly uncertain, fragile, and polarized world. We need that next generation — and your support — more than ever before.
Onward together,
Juan-Carlos Molleda, Ph.D.
Edwin L. Artzt Dean and Professor, School of Journalism and Communication
University of Oregon
The LAGRANT Foundation Board Member
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5 Things I Learned at Waste Management as the Intern

By Abigail Mendoza

This article was originally featured on 
Waste Management:

I spent the spring semester of 2017 applying left and right to internships, trying to build my portfolio and get my name out. I would apply to 1-3 internships a week every week, desperate to leave my subpar hostessing job at your local Houston sushi restaurant. Hostessing paid the bills, but honestly, I dreaded going to work. I always dreamed of what else I could be doing and I knew I was capable of more than food service like I’ve been doing since I was 16. I’m currently a 21-year-old senior at the University of Houston, studying Integrated Communications and minoring in Psychology. I aspire to be a creative director at an advertising agency one day, as my passion lies in being a leader and being the eye for art and aesthetics. After receiving news of acceptance into Waste Management, I was ecstatic because I could finally start a real desk job! It was a weird thing to get excited about, according to my friends. Was I really getting excited about a temporary 9 to 5 desk job? Indeed, I was. I was just supposed to stay for the summer, alongside my co-intern, Evan Neuhoff, but we were extended the opportunity to stay until December. So, what are the dirty details I uncovered while working at Waste Management?

1. We Aren’t Just a Trash Company

Since working here, I realized that there were so many creative opportunities here for me and creative projects that I could work on. It wasn’t just centered on waste, but also on recycling and sustainability. These topics really appealed to me because I consider myself a rather “green” person, trying to live as green and healthy a life to the best of my ability. It’s also been an interesting experience, especially since I’m currently in a corporate environment which people would assume isn’t really on the creative side. I’ve worked on numerous projects such as Facebook Live, weekly articles, and creative projects.

2. Corporate Is Full of Opportunity

Just like any other job, if you don’t make the most out of it, you’ll probably hate it. I’ve had friends ask me if I’m bored, and I tell them that I always have something to do, and am always busy. The corporate environment is something I don’t mind, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to explore what I like and what I don’t like for my future career. I can also safely say that a lot of surprises have hit me while working here. Some memorable moments of my time here would include the Facebook Live projects, visiting a landfill and Material Recycling Facility (MRF), delivering a diversity presentation in front of all the human resources vice presidents, and being able to go to New York with our President and CEO, Jim Fish for his Squawk Box appearance.

3. It’s a LOT of Work

“Intern” seems like a word associated with getting all the dirty work that your boss just doesn’t want to do and images of a student in a loosely-fitted suit struggling to carry coffee for the staff also comes to mind. But in reality, the work that I do here plays a big part in main operations and projects that my department works on for the company. I like feeling like a part of the team, and not just “the intern”. I’ve learned a lot about time management and handling stress. I’m currently taking 5 classes, take part in campus organizations, and balance the work and social requirements in my sorority along with working this job 2 to 3 times a week. I’ve learned to say “no” when I know my workload is overflowing and knowing it’s okay. I used to have a huge problem taking on so much and constantly being overwhelmed. It’s better to create good content than create a lot of subpar content that I know can be better.

4. Technology of the Future

One of the things that shocked me during my time here is the unique use of technology. I didn’t know that a company like Waste Management could utilize society’s food waste and turn it into energy. Other examples are how many of our trucks are powered by compressed natural gas, and all the technology in our neat trucks. It got me thinking that a lot goes into the waste industry and people tend to overlook that. It’s interesting once you know more about all that goes into the industry.

5. Recycling is Important!

If it’s one really big thing I learned working here at Waste Management, it’s that recycling is extremely important. I was never huge on recycling, but now I try to recycle as much as I can. I created a recycling quiz, and learned more about recycling than in all my 21 years of living. I didn’t know you couldn’t recycle plastic bags via curbside recycling programs—take them back to the grocery store instead! And when I tell my friends, they didn’t know either.

I’ve learned a lot my past few months here at Waste Management. I’ve made some friends, made connections, and learned a side of communications I never knew would provide me so many opportunities. The work environment is relaxed and not completely hectic, the people are all-around very kind, and there’s always something to do. I’m glad I was given this experience because it gave me that first push of confidence into the adult life which I’ve been scared and anxious to approach since starting college.

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Coming Together When It Matters the Most

(L-R) TLF Alumna 
Kendra Croft, Diana Pinedo and Saata Bangura

In a year full of socio-political divisiveness and trauma, the theme of this year’s ADCOLOR event, “Come Together,” could not have been more necessary or palpable. 

From September 18-19, more than 700 professionals in the advertising, communications, ad tech and entertainment industries rallied together to champion over diversity and inclusion at the 11th annual ADCOLOR Conference. Tiffany Warren, Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer at Omnicom Group and Founder & President at ADCOLOR, has been a change agent her entire career. What started off as a small idea over a decade ago has exponentially grown into a massive movement and platform that has helped to form the next generation of diverse creators and content generators of color. This movement celebrates those who have paved the way beforehand, and awards the incredible ways that professionals of color are helping the needle to continue moving forward. 

ADCOLOR is unique in the sense that when one attends, there is a built-in sense of community from day one – almost like a family reunion. Throughout the conference, there was a wide gamut of voices that covered topics and content that attendees could engage with and share through social media channels using the #ComeTogether hashtag. Speakers, panelists and honorees ranging from Snoop Dogg, Don Lemon and Bozoma Saint John to DeRay Mckesson, Elaine Welteroth, Morgan DeBaun and Jesse Williams, dove into a variety of topics. These topics included cultural and personal branding, the emotional power of virtual reality, the interconnectivity of social media and what being “woke” really means.

Here are my top six takeaways from ADCOLOR 2017:

1. Build your tribe. It is important to not only build your community, but also engage with it. Mentors, advisors, friends, colleagues, etc. are the ones who will help you guide and navigate the peaks and valleys of your career. Consider this combination of folks your own personal Board of Directors. Find the people who you can trust to give you honest and constructive feedback, be a good soundboard, hold you accountable and inspire you along your journey. Ultimately, the goal is to build a mutually beneficial relationship over the course of time.
2. We are all more connected than you think. In the digital world we live in, we are now more connected than ever. During the ADCOLOR screening of Viacom’s Culture of Proximity documentary, this was made very clear. Culturally, there are only a few degrees of separation in many cases. The silver lining is that this can be used to our advantage. We, as a culture, can use this proximity to promote conversation, action and change within the world around us – even with people we may not know on a personal level, but who we are connected to in some way. We all have our own individual platforms and a network of people in our proximity to help amplify that for good.
3. The time for silence is not now. There are so many platforms to use to sound off on what's important to you. Stand up for what you believe in, and don't be afraid to have brave, bold conversations that may be uncomfortable, but crucial in helping to move the needle forward. In the words of activist Maggie Kuhn, “Speak your mind – even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say.”

4. There's a distinct difference between diversity and inclusion. The two are not mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations think it's okay to just be diverse (or say they are) in order to fill quotas, but don’t actively create strategic initiatives, best practices and platforms to help integrate that diversity. As Trisch L. Smith, Executive Vice President & Managing Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Edelman, so eloquently put it during a panel, "Diversity is inviting people to the party. Inclusion is asking them to dance."
5. Rise up and reach back. This is the underlying current of the ADCOLOR mission. Here are some tactical ways to do just that:

  • Invest in ADCOLOR: volunteer for upcoming events, give feedback to the team, follow @adcolor on social media, and bring a friend to the next ADCOLOR Conference!
  • Recommend speakers for industry panels and lists.
  • Give back through mentorship. 
6. Our differences bring us together. In the words of Dr. Maya Angelou, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” If we are brave enough to truly live out the theme of this year’s conference and talk about our differences as a way to bridge the gap instead of letting our differences divide us, we truly can come together.

About Saata Bangura:
With a Bachelor of Arts degree in studio arts and graphic design from Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and over 10 years of experience in the field, Bangura has been recognized by American Advertising Federation and Graphic Design USA for her work in graphic design and art direction.


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Support TLF by Submitting a Video Entry to Starbucks' UPSTANDERS Challenge!

Help support The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) win one of 25 grants for $25,000 from the Starbucks Foundation!

The Starbucks UPSTANDERS CHALLENGE is a peer-to-peer social media video contest that provides a platform for nonprofit supporters to share why their nonprofit is an “Upstander” (i.e. a person or organization that acts to make a positive change in the community). Through this challenge TLF supporters can create positive engagement and showcase all of the efforts that TLF provides to ethnic minorities pursuing careers in advertising, marketing and public relations in a short video.
Challenge background: Inspired by Starbucks’ Season 2 Upstanders series, the Starbucks Foundation is excited to highlight and share stories about everyday people/orgs doing extraordinary things across the United States.
How do I contribute?
It takes less than 5 minutes to participate. We each have a unique story to share as to why we support and believe in TLF’s mission. Take your storytelling and creativity expertise to the next level and let others know why you think TLF is an #Upstander!
1. Create a short and captivating video (two minutes or less) that highlights why The LAGRANT Foundation is an “Upstander”. Be creative and use your resources (i.e. GoPro, phone, etc. – be original, have fun and make sure the video is non-produced). Think to yourself “Could this go viral?”
2. Upload your video at http://indi.com/starbucks/upstanders. Please follow challenge instructions to correctly nominate The LAGRANT Foundation. The first 200 eligible entries will receive a $20 Starbucks eGift. An official email confirmation from Indi will be sent when your video entry has been approved for posting, which could take up to 24 hours.
My video was approved! Now what?
• SHARE! SHARE! SHARE! Utilize your social media platforms Facebook/Twitter/Instagram whether personal or business as well as family, friends, coworkers and encourage them to watch, like, retweet, repost and most importantly SHARE the video. The more “Buzz” generated the better!
• Don’t forget to tag TLF on all social media mentions and utilized the Starbucks hashtag #Upstanders when sharing online. TLF will only be sharing approved video entries on its social media platforms.
• Multiple TLF supporters can engage and create separate videos on behalf of the organization. The more entries the higher the possibilities for selection.

Remember, the sooner videos are submitted and approved, the more time you have to generate buzz and share TLF’s efforts with the community. Please visit http://indi.com/starbucks/upstanders to view official contest rules, sample videos and tips on how you can generate online buzz.

NOTE: The contest officially launched on Oct. 10 and will end on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 at 11:59 PM PT with winners announced by Thursday, November 30, 2017. Help TLF continue its efforts to support ethnic minorities and diversify the advertising, marketing and public relations industry of tomorrow. Submit a video entry today!

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TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile- Leah Shin

My name is Leah Shin and I am a rising sophomore undergraduate student at the University of Washington. I am track to double major in Business Marketing and Information Science with a concentration in Human Computer Interaction, and a minor in Entrepreneurship. My past year I have been currently involved in the Foster School of Business Lavin Honors Entrepreneurship Program where I hope to expand, Literacy for Love, an organization I established that has collected over $55,000 worth of books for English Language Learners and low-income families. Within Foster, I am also a Mentor-In-Training for the Young Executives of Color (YEOC) Program. Through YEOC, we directly mentor high school students across Washington State in professionalism and various business concentrations.

Lastly, this past summer I have been working with T-Mobile’s Diversity & Inclusion team to establish and develop a phone application (Abroaden) to spread diversity and awareness of other’s culture. We are projected to launch our prototype by spring 2017.

The LAGRANT Foundation Scholarship (TLF) has allowed me to dream— to dream my dream of confidently changing the world with the power of business, tech, and design as an Asian-American woman. It was through our conversations and networking with these professionals that fueled an insatiable desire to continue to work hard and do more every day. The friendships I built with the top 41 student scholars and leaders all across the nation had us learning from each other’s projects, experiences, failures, and dreams. I’ve made it my goal, to return to TLF as a professional where students are able to look up to and say, “I can do it too.” Thank you TLF for an experience of a life time and for believing in me.

Leah Shin is a rising sophomore at the University of Washington, majoring in Business Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Information Technology and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
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TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile- Hunter C. Durham

Hello, my name is Hunter Durham and I am in my senior year at Palm Beach Atlantic University. I have been passionate about marketing since I arrived at the university and I have worked hard to develop myself as a marketing professional over the past 3 years. I started the first collegiate chapter of the American Marketing Association on campus and have maintained a 3.9 GPA, but what has impacted me the most are the opportunities I have had outside of school. I have worked for major brands including Red Bull, Dell, and currently, Microsoft. Another major outside influence has been The LAGRANT Foundation. After winning the scholarship three times, they have encouraged me to excel, developed me professionally, and inspired me to give back.

My passion for people and my skill in business is what attracted me to the world of marketing. I am interested in product marketing/brand management and want to eventually work my way up the ladder to a CMO position.  After establishing myself in the industry, I plan to return to get my MBA at a top university.  Please feel free to connect with me on Linked In or email me.  

Hunter Durham is a rising senior at Palm Beach Atlantic University, majoring in marketing and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
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TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile- Ryan A. Jordan

My name is Ryan Jordan. I am a 2016 graduate of Hampton University and will be attending American University in the fall to pursue my master’s degree in strategic communications (thanks TLF for the graduate scholarship!). While attending Hampton University I played on the championship winning Division I women’s basketball team. I was also one of the founding officers in the first student-run PR agency, a full-time position that allowed me to work with real clients and add experience to my profile. In my senior year, I also interned with the Office of University Relations which gave me the opportunity to work on my writing skills and see public relations in a different way.

My goal after graduating with my master’s is to work at a public relations agency for several years and see if agency life fits me. I would also love to gain experience in-house for a Fortune 500 brand. In my 5-10 year plan I also plan on going back to school and gaining my MBA. Although the communications field is heavily based on creativity, at the end of the day it utilizes business concepts for success. I want to be able to understand the business aspects of my creations and how it affects my company as a whole. Also, by attaining an MBA, I would be a more credible candidate for a leadership positions, and therefore able to create more opportunities for increased ethnic representation within the communications field. 

Ryan A. Jordan is a rising 2016 graduate from Hampton University who will be attending American University in the fall for her master's degree in strategic communications. She received TLF's graduate scholarship this year. 

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TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile - Alicia Tran

My name is Alicia Tran and I am an undergraduate communications student at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My interest lies in leveraging diverse media channels to promoting social change.
I first became interested in marketing through an internship position at a Los Angeles-based marketing strategy firm. From this experience, I was able to explore marketing as a platform for big ideas. I learned that truly remarkable companies do not in fact sell products; rather, they sell stories. It is therefore the marketer’s responsibility to ensure that these stories work seamlessly and cohesively with consumer values.
The LAGRANT Foundation has provided me with all the resources to tell stories of diversity and social change through connecting me with successful industry professionals who have lived these experiences. Their insight and advice inspires me to think creatively about inclusion in order to disrupt the status quo. In the upcoming months, I plan to divide my time between a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia and a social policy Think Tank in New York City. I aspire to one day work for an organization which helps philanthropists, NGO’s, and social entrepreneurs become more innovative and effective in their brand messaging strategies.

Alicia Tran is a rising junior at University of California, Santa Barbara majoring in communications and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
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TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile - Kavita Raval

My name is Kavita Raval and I am a rising senior at the University of Michigan working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and Political Science. As a 2016 TLF scholarship recipient, I have had the pleasure of meeting and networking with an incredible group of peers and mentors passionate about fostering diversity within the field of communications.  As I prepare to graduate, I am looking forward to developing my TLF relationships and beginning my career in the world of public affairs.

My lifetime goal is to see gender equality as the norm around the world. To transform this vision into a reality, I would like to be a public relations advocate for women’s rights issues ranging from unequal pay to domestic violence awareness. By translating business PR strategies to the nonprofit sector, I want to elicit the same excitement people feel when reading about a campaign to extend maternity leave as they do while watching the launch of an Apple product.

I am encouraged by how The LAGRANT Foundation has opened up many opportunities for minorities like myself interested in the Communications/PR field. It is my desire to positively influence young South Asians to enter into professional fields that are not typically associated with our ethnic background. My friends and I recently launched the #SouthAsianAnd twitter campaign dedicated to cultivating conversations around the multiple talents of South Asians in hopes that it will have a positive impact on younger generations.

Kavita Raval is a rising senior at University of Michigan majoring in communications & political science and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
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TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile - Landyn Pan

My name is Landyn Pan and I am a junior majoring in PR & advertising at Chapman University in Orange, California. I come from a background of non-profit work in LGBTQ and people of color communities and have a strong love for film and television. In the future, I aim to work in non-profit communications or at an entertainment company while promoting partnerships that benefit society. It is my hope that whatever I do in my career, I will be able to continue improving LGBTQ and people of color communities and providing educational and life opportunities to marginalized youth.

The trip to Atlanta was a fun and educational experience where I was able to meet and connect with students of color and high level executives in the marketing/PR/advertising industry from across the country. Each workshop we attended was beneficial to my career exploration and gaining new professional skills and insights. My mind was opened up to new ideas I hadn’t thought of before. I can’t thank The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) enough for putting on such an incredible three-day program.

Landyn Pan is a rising junior at Chapman University majoring in public relations & advertising and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
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TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile - Ana Sabarots

My name is Ana Sabarots. I am a rising junior at the University of Washington in Seattle studying Business Marketing at the Michael G. Foster School of Business. I grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, moved to Panama when I was seven, and ultimately settled in the United States when I was 15. My upbringing has shaped much of who I am as a person, and consequently, my career goals. Cultural awareness and the understanding of diversity is something that is engrained in the deepest parts of who I am as an individual. 
Looking to the near future, I am very interested in pursuing a Master’s degree in a subject area related to the marketing and communications fields. My experience thus far has helped me realize that I have a true passion for people. I am particularly interested in the communicative and creative side of business, and enjoy working collaboratively with others while observing the way individuals communicate. I see marketing as a means through which one can influence real change and as a platform to leverage my global vision for a more positive world. Ultimately, I want to establish a successful and motivated career for myself where I am able to apply my skills and unique perspective to create innovative strategies within the field of marketing communications. I can only hope that this career allows me to expand my horizons globally and work on an international level while building valuable, long-lasting relationships with my future co-workers and colleagues.

Ana Sabarots is a rising junior at the University of Washington majoring in business marketing and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
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TLF 2016 Scholarship Recipient Profile - Jade Song

My name is Jade Song and I am a junior undergraduate student at Cornell University. I am currently pursuing a double major in Communication and Information Science, concentrating in User Experience Design and Technology Studies, and two minors, Business and Visual Studies. At Cornell, I am the founder of the Cornell Design Panel, where 200+ students come together to hear from design professionals such as the VP Design of Buzzfeed, the co-President of Operation DEEP, which works to fund and improve rural education in China, and an Operations Team member of Cornell University Sustainable Design, where we oversee project teams working on sustainable projects around the world.
My career endeavors are to be creative and to make people care, whether that be a creative director in advertising, making consumers care, or in social marketing, making the population care about the cause.
Outside of career and academic oriented things, I love to read all genres of books and enjoy photography as a creative outlet, shooting weddings and portraits. In addition, I love to travel with only a camera and a backpack, and have been to twelve countries solo and counting. I want to visit every art museum in the world.
Thanks to The LAGRANT Foundation, I was granted a wonderful opportunity to travel and learn about the various communications fields in all sorts of businesses. I had the chance to meet and connect with so many brilliant professionals and students, and for that I am forever grateful to the wonderful foundation!

Jade Song is a rising junior at the Cornell University double majoring in Communication and Information Science and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
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Diversify Your Internship by Yahnnica Tate

Diversify Your Internship
Internships are the gateway to deciding your career path; they provide you the opportunity to work with experts in your field and offer you the experience and advice that will sculpt your career interest. Each internship varies and it’s important to explore your options and figure out your career path by diversifying your internship.  Here are a couple tips on diversifying your internship to help you in becoming an exceptional professional. 
The art of networking is not difficult, but might be intimidating as an intern. If you set a goal for yourself, you’ll soon be able to extend the conversation past introductions and small talk. The best places that I’ve found to strike up a conversation are in common areas such as the kitchen or the elevator.
Lattes will be your best friend! Coffee dates often eliminate the pressure of feeling like “just an intern” because it’s a casual setting. You want to make sure that when you set up meetings for coffee that you come prepared. I’ve found it useful to bring a notebook and pen to every meeting because you don’t want miss details. Also, researching who you’re meeting with will help you structure your topics of interest and questions.
Taking Advantage of the Experience
Attending workshops has been the most useful tool for me throughout my internship at Weber Shandwick. It’s provided me opportunities to get to know colleagues as well as learning useful tips for career growth and client work. If your company offers workshops, consider it as a benefit to your growth because that means the company cares about your advancement and wants to provide you the tools to do your job better.
Challenging Yourself
Discover what makes you unique and applying that to your work environment. It’s important as an intern that you decide what assets you could bring to the table. As a senior at Hampton University, a Historically Black College University (HBCU) in Hampton, VA, and graduate from Mercer Island High School, I have had the opportunity to be exposed to diverse lifestyles, cultures, religions, and much more. In the summer of 2013 I completed my first internship with a boutique agency in Los Angeles, CA.  During this internship, I’ve successfully managed and secured media coverage for their clients and The LAGRANT Foundation’s annual scholarship reception.
Overall, I believe your internship should be a way for you to apply your knowledge and an excellent forum to grow professional skills that employers seek. What do you think?

Yahnnica Tate is a rising senior at Hampton University pursuing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Strategic Communication. Yahnnica completed her internship with Weber Shandwick Seattle this summer, made possible by a grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation, in partnership with Hampton University's Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communication. 

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TLF 2015 Scholarship Recipient Profile - Nathan DeVaughn

I am Nathan DeVaughn.  I am a rising senior at the University of Portland where I am pursuing a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing and a Minor in Fine Arts.  My time in college has been amazing as I am fortunate enough to participate in activities such as Varsity track and field, being the cartoonist for the school newspaper, and serving as a role model for a struggling 4th grader at a local elementary school.  I am a driven person with a range of talents from academics to athletics to art.  I want to best use these talents in the real word and I believe TLF and the University of Portland are doing a great job in aiding me in my dreams. 

My ultimate goal is to be a head creative at either a major ad agency or corporation.  My creativity comes inherently from the many experiences I have undergone and being a creative at an industry leading firm is the best way I can flex that muscle.  My opportunities have set me up for success and I plan on capitalizing.

Nathan DeVaughn is a rising senior at the University Portland majoring in marketing and received TLF's undergraduate scholarship this year.
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The HBSI Experience by Cosette Haugen

Cosette Haugen

I get uncomfortable when the unread email count surpasses one-hundred and too often my solution is to unceremoniously start deleting with just a half-hearted glance at the subject line. But my inbox purges never include TLF emails, because one such email helped me get the internship of a lifetime:
This summer, Burson-Marsteller will welcome three interns sourced from TLF into the 2015 U.S. HBSI program. Burson-Marsteller will cover housing expenses for the three students selected at a local university dormitory in the city of their choice.
What drove my interest was the company’s promise behind their invitation. Their act of providing housing for summer interns meant they didn’t want anything standing in our way – location and economic background included.
Through my work with various brands this summer, I have seen how public relations firms interact with key influencers with blogger programs and editor kits. I have learned about the pitching process firsthand and have contributed to pro bono campaigns. I have even worked on two start-up companies that could completely disrupt their respective industries. Now I am waist-deep in my final internship project, where my partner in Dallas and I are planning a comprehensive campaign for a first-of-its-kind airline company.
At Burson-Marsteller, we are taught to always be searching for ways to Be More. I hope to bring that mentality to future projects as I enter my senior year and, after that, the professional world. Thank you to TLF and Burson-Marsteller for making opportunities like this possible!

Cosette Haugen is a two-time TLF scholarship recipient and is majoring in marketing, psychology and strategic communications at the University of Minnesota.

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My Summer Internship with W20 Group by Andrew Echeguren

Andrew Echeguren

I never thought I would end up in this industry, let alone at a place like W2O Group. My name is Andrew Echeguren and recently I graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a degree in Spanish Literature of all things. Last summer, I spent many hours proofreading long insurance and legal documents in Spanish. It was about as fun as watching paint dry.

This summer, I have had the opportunity to support a team of incredibly creative, intelligent, and motivated people that help bolster the image of brands. My title is Technology Practice Intern, but the position should probably be called Technology Practice Team Member. I say this because here at W2O Group, everything is about collaboration. I am always communicating on one level or another with my colleagues, whether that be via email, on chat, or in person.

As a three sport athlete, I’ve always known that teamwork wins championships. I feel like this principle reigns true at W2O Group. At this company, interns get the opportunity to contribute. We aren’t looked down upon, and our ideas matter. For example, within the first couple of weeks of my experience here I was in a meeting and thought of a social media partnership that we ended up pitching. I felt like I’d already came up with a big hit, basket, or goal for my team. Not bad for someone with his degree in Spanish Literature, right? 

Andrew Echeguren is an alumnus of Occidental College and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish Literature.

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Five Pieces of Advice Every Marketer Should Receive by Hunter Durham*
Over the course of the last month, I got married, moved to Austin, and started my first internship at one of the largest companies in the world: Dell Inc. The first step of any journey is never the most important. What is the most important is what you learn from that first step. As I begin to establish myself as a marketing professional, the knowledge, expertise, and skills that I take away from this internship will direct the path of my career and even my life. I have already met with some of the most talented marketers in the industry in my short time here. Those I have spoken to, including the CMO’s chief of staff and the VP of Brand Governance (or the Brand Police as she unfairly gets called), have given me priceless information to jumpstart my career. The following quotes are my reflections on the top 5 pieces of advice every marketer should receive: 

1. “Marketers must start from a customer perspective.”  – Michelle Daniels, Director of Corporate Brand Identity

This is a core belief rooted in Dell’s philosophy, starting in 1984 when Michael Dell revolutionized the direct sales model. This concept is routinely preached across the marketing industry nowadays, although we often forget to think customer-first when creating a social media strategy or developing sales enablement tools. The bottom line is to always start with the question: how does this benefit the customer?

2. “Marketers must view the sales force as the second customer.” – Michael Marchand, Global Director of Strategy & Corporate Development

As Dell continues to increase the size of its salesforce across the globe, this piece of advice is now more important than ever. There is often a deep disconnect between us – the marketers – and the salesforce; however, both teams rely on one another to succeed. This is why it is important to not only start from a customer perspective, but to then stop and try to understand how an initiative will make a salesperson’s job easier.

3. "Marketers must have a love of learning.” – Ann Lott, Director of CSR Marketing

Today’s business landscape is rapidly changing, and nowhere is this more evident than in the marketing industry. With these changes comes the responsibility to learn, adapt, and implement new marketing elements and techniques in the right way and at the right time. The best marketers are those with an insatiable curiosity to understand how customer behavior and the media landscape are changing in order to adapt, evolve, and capitalize on these advancements. Personally, I think that modern marketers are the smartest people in business (perhaps I’m a little biased).

4. “Marketers must learn to tell a story with numbers.” – Joseph Moke, Senior Manager, Digital Marketing
The number crunchers love to slash marketing’s budget if it cannot definitively prove a positive ROI. As marketers, we are taught to ignore the fallacy that all marketing dollars must lead to revenue because, as already stated, we are the smartest. OK so maybe that’s not always true, and marketers ought to be accountable for their actions. Marketers are excellent storytellers so having the ability to tell stories in the language of our audience is as useful internally as it is externally. So when speaking to a CEO or CFO, make sure you incorporate some numbers into your story to convince them that your marketing investments are paying off.

5. "Marketers must always have a connection with the customers.” – Rajbir Panag, Director of Solutions Marketing, Large Corporations and Public Institutions

Not all salespeople are good marketers, but all marketers need to have the key skill of a salesperson: knowledge of the customer. As previously mentioned, there is often a gap between the two functions. However, every marketer, regardless of the industry they are in, should spend at least a day interacting with customers face-to-face. This enables us to better serve our customers and become more effective marketers.

*Hunter Durham is a two-time TLF scholarship recipient and a marketing major at Palm Beach Atlantic University
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My Internship at The LAGRANT Foundation by Vannyda Thach
If I could choose one word to describe my entire internship experience at The LAGRANT Foundation, it would be growth.

Since I began in March 2015, not one day of my internship has gone by where I have not learned something new. Tasks and projects that I had the opportunity to work on allowed me to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone. I was able take part in a range of work such as pitching to media, outreaching to schools across the U.S., creating graphic design materials, and more.

I especially enjoyed working on TLF’s various career and professional development workshops. From creating the event flyer to promoting it on social media, it was great to see how my contributions helped make the event happen. Outreaching to different schools across the U.S. and inviting students to come to a workshop that may lead to their future job also felt very rewarding. I felt like I was helping out students like me.

I worked closely with Nelly Alonso during my time at TLF, and she has been awesome.  I learned a great amount from her and I am grateful that I was able to work with an expert in the industry. I’ve gained so much knowledge and skills that I can put to use in my future career throughout the past months and cannot thank the TLF team enough for allowing me to be a part of the team.

*Vannyda Thach is a senior public relations student at California State University, Long Beach

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My Visit to Burson-Marsteller and the HBSI Program

My visit to Burson-Marsteller’s Santa Monica, Calif. office for its recruitment program was incredible. It was an honor to be in the office of one of the top public relations firms in the country.
I had the honor to talk to Client Executive Anne Russell and Human Resource and Recruiting Coordinator Kalee Bodey. Both of them were really nice and gave me some advice on how to get better within my career. They said that if I ever need anything to contact them. The rest of the staff was really nice and very professional.
Bodey started the program by talking about the application process. The applications have to apply online along with attaching a resume, cover letter, school transcripts and write a press release about how they got the internship if they were hired.

Other employees talked about their experience as former interns and employees of Burson-Marsteller. They’ve talked their job descriptions, working with clients and took questions for the students who attended the recruitment program.
One thing that stood out to me during the panel discussion was they’ve talked about how they are best friends outside of work. I would like to work at a place where I am able to have a chance to build a relationship with.
Burson-Marsteller is the ideal agency that I would like to work for. Even if I do not get an opportunity to intern with this company, it feels good to know that I could have that connection with one of the top public relation companies in the nation.

*Anthony Hodge is a senior public relations major attending California State University, Long Beach and former intern of TLF.
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My Internship with the Herbalife Family Foundation by Kimberly Roussell
Working with Herbalife Family Foundation (HFF) was an invaluable experience. I learned so much from the women I worked with. This was my first step into the corporate environment, and it taught me how to be assertive while also professional. The ladies at HFF supported me and made me feel like I was part of the team from day one.
During the course of the internship, I worked on fundraising for an annual gala. The proceeds from which go toward over 120,000 kids in various HFF programs. It was great to be apart of that and to be able to contribute in some capacity. I worked closely with the Executive Director to create solicitation letters asking for donations for the live auction. Writing those letters not only strengthened my writing skills, but also taught me to write persuasively. I also created an official database for auction items, contacted luxury donors directly and helped to secure donations for the event.
My time at HFF showed me all the work and strategizing that goes into working with a global nonprofit, and taught me valuable skills I will use in my future career path. That being said, my internship is something I will never forget and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have been apart of the HFF team. 

*Kimberly Roussell is a senior public relations student attending California State University, Long Beach.

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ADCOLOR 2014 by Amber Jackson*
Life changing doesn’t even begin to describe my experience as a 2014 AdColor Future. Yes a fully paid trip to sunny Los Angeles, CA was great but the real highlights of the AdColor Future’s Program came from the week long experience.

The opportunity to learn and bond with forty of the top emerging multicultural professionals in the communications industry was enlightening. Their stories and advice gave me inspiration to apply to my current job and my growing career.

I had access and exposure to some of the most successful, senior level executives in the industry. Often inaccessible, I had the opportunity to network and set into motion the beginnings of new opportunities, partnerships, mentorships and more.

Education was also integral to the AdColor Future’s experience. Through the efficacy training I learned how to navigate industry issues faced by multicultural talent and forward my career through network building. Attending the conference gave me insight into some of the best work, insights and people in communications.

The most exciting experience for me was winning the first ever AdColor Futures’ case study competition and speaking at the AdColor Futures Speak Out panel at the  conference. Through this opportunity I had the chance to share the multicultural millenial’s point of view of advertising and the future of the industry.

Finishing the week with the award show and after party celebration was an unforgettable experience. Both events were formal, glamorous and unlike any event I’ve attended during my time in the advertising industry. Following that week, I came back to New York City and my job motivated and refreshed. I took the chance to share my experience back with my agency and specifically how diversity efforts could be increased internally and externally.  Since then I’ve been invited to join the agency’s new diversity council.

I’m excited to continue the AdColor future motto Rising Up. Reach Back. Through my own personal efforts, I plan to assist in the goal to make communications a more inclusive industry.

*Amber Jackson is a 2014 graduate scholarship recipient and is currently pursing her Master's degree in Branding & Integrated Communication at CCNY.
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ADCOLOR 2014 by Kendra Croft*

We learn from the past, to plan for the present, and prepare for the future. ADCOLOR® did all of that and more in less than one week. This year I was honored to be a member of the ADCOLOR® Futures 2014 class.  Attending ADCOLOR® as a Future gave me a unique experience that exceeded my wildest imagination. At our opening dinner, ADCOLOR® Founder, Tiffany R. Warren approached me and said, “you all are the real celebrities this weekend.” At the time I just shook it off, because all I could think was “Who would want to meet me with Michael B. Jordan in the room?”

 We stared off the week by working on, and presenting our case study. It was a brand new experience for me, as a student, to work with young professionals who are already in the industry. Not only did we all have to coordinate times for meetings and tasks, but we had to do this all while being spread around the country. The case study project allowed us to come together at an early start. As a group, we then became even closer by going through efficacy training together. As ADCOLOR® Futures we recognized that we all came from different parts of life with different perspectives.  Our efficacy training taught us how to be stronger leaders when working with diverse groups such as ourselves.

The highlight of my weekend was the conference. Every panel gave insights into a new and different form of diversity in advertising. Diversity of thought, physicality, and perspective were all thoroughly analyzed and presented in the conference. I was especially excited by the closing presentation of No.2.66 (no-to-sixty-six). The No.2.66 campaign was launched at ADCOLOR® to combat the shockingly low representation of African Americans in the creative fields The entire campaign lies on the fact that “At the current rate of hiring, true equality will not be realized in the advertising industry until 2079.” It was at that moment that I was finally able to tell myself, “You will enter the advertising industry, and you will enter as a creative!”

My entire ADCOLOR® experience came full circle at the awards show after party. I had finally built up the nerve to talk to a personal inspiration of mine, Bozoma St. John. I had been admiring her groundbreaking success since the 2013 ADCOLOR® Conference, and this after party was my last chance to tell her what an inspiration she has been. So, the minute she took a break from “breaking it down” on the dance floor I was able to tell her “thank you for being an inspiration.” She ended my night by telling me, “No, thank you! I have been looking forward to meeting the ADCOLOR ® Futures this whole weekend. You all are the real inspiration and the real celebrities.”

Kendra Croft is a two-time TLF scholarship recipient and is majoring in advertising at the University of Texas, Austin

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ADCOLOR 2014 by Steven Bram

Last year, I was introduced to the world of ADCOLOR through The LAGRANT Foundation. The 2013 ADCOLOR Conference and Awards show was an eye opening experience that left me really motivated and inspired. I was so inspired that I applied for the ADCOLOR Futures Program in 2014. This year, the Futures Program was comprised of a class of 30 students and young professionals in PR, advertising, marketing and media. All are very motivated, bright and successful individuals from all over the country.
ADCOLOR broadened our network beyond our current cities and introduced us to industry professionals at top companies and various levels. Being selected for this program meant a lot to me. Not only did ADCOLOR give me the opportunity to represent the Latino PR community, but it was my first time openly representing the LGBT community. The week of events have instilled pride in me for who I am and increased my interest in becoming even more involved in my communities.
During the five days I spent with my fellow Futures, I got to know them on both a professional and personal level. I can tell you that my fellow Futures and I are a determined bunch. We are determined to continue to move the diversity momentum moving forward and be change agents to better our industries while leading the way for others to follow. We learned so much from each other and made connections and friendships that I know for certain, will last a lifetime.

(L - R) TLF alumni and 2014 ADCOLOR FUTURES Danielle English, Amber Jackson,
Kendra Croft and Steven Bram


*Steven Bram is an alumna from TLF's scholarship program and is a Senior Associate at Roll Global.

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My Internship with Nordstrom by Douglas Ta'a*

My name is Douglas Ta’a and I am a recent graduate from the University of Washington, with a degree in Business Administration with a focus in Information Systems & Marketing.  This summer I’ve had the opportunity to intern with Nordstrom through the Buying & Planning corporate internship. This summer I’ve supported the Men’s Tailored, and worked very closely with the Buyers, Assistant Buyers, and Buy Planners to assist them in their daily business decisions. Last year, I was selected as a 2013- 2014 LAGRANT Scholarship recipient, and had an opportunity to meet people at Nordstrom at a corporate visit. Since then, I have kept in contact with them and they recommended that I apply to the Nordstrom Merchandising Group Corporate Internship. 

My summer experience at Nordstrom has been fantastic! I have always had a deep interest in fashion, but never knew what career opportunities existed within that industry. The Nordstrom Internship Team planned out great events for us throughout my internship. I’ve met the Nordstrom family, heard from corporate leaders from different divisions within the company and have gone on many tours of the company! I have really been exposed to all facets of the company and the endless career opportunities that exist at Nordstrom. As an intern, I have had the opportunity to take on projects and make real business decisions that will have an impact on the company. That responsibility has challenged my way of thinking and work ethic in a positive way. I have learned so much and motivated to continue a career with Nordstrom. If it wasn’t for TLF, I would have not been able to make those initial connections that would lead me this internship. The LAGRANT Foundation does a great job at connecting students with the right people to help them reach their goals. I am excited to see where this internship will lead me and what my next challenge will be. Thank you Nordstrom and TLF for such an awesome opportunity!

*Douglas Ta'a is an alumna of the University of Washington and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing and Information Systems. Doug received TLF's scholarship in 2013.

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My Internship at Sabre - A Life Changing Opportunity by D'Andrea Willis

In a little over two months, I’ve entered an industry with the ultimate potential to contribute to my professional and personal growth.  One week after gaining my B.A in Public Relations from UTArlington, I began a summer internship at Sabre Corporation with the help of The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF).  During this time, I participated in an intern case competition tasked with building a business case for an innovative app idea.  I attended executive forums featuring intimate conversations with the CFO, CMO, and even the CEO!  I got an inside look into Sabre Labs, our technology incubator, where a small team works daily to discover the next technology trend that could change the future of travel.  

There were endless networking opportunities including hackathons and world cup watch parties. However, what I found most motivating was the opportunity for career growth within Sabre. I worked on the corporate communications team drafting press releases, writing blogs, and even creating tweets.  I feel blessed to say that my internship turned into a full-time position within the corporate communications team.  The LAGRANT Foundation played a huge role in creating the first advance towards my career.  TLF helped me from beginning to end. In addition to helping me through the application process, they checked on me to ensure that I was having the most positive experience possible during my internship.  Therefore, when I received a full-time position, I only saw fit that I show TLF my gratitude for their part in my recent success. The panic that comes with being a recent college graduate can be discouraging however; the Foundation was instrumental in providing me the support and resources I needed to feel confident in advancing my career.  Thank you TLF for fostering this life-changing opportunity.

*D'Andrea Willis is an alumna of the University of Texas, Arlington and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations.

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From Fellowship to Full-Time by Samra Mengitsu

My last week as a fellow at Burson has been a busy one. I have continued working on technology accounts as well as helping with two proposals to new companies. New business acquisition is one aspect of agency work that I had yet to see before this week so I’m very glad that I got to experience pitching and proposal writing before my fellowship term came to an end.
Today, the last day of the Harold Burson Fellowship, I am happy to announce that I have received a full time job offer! I will be staying in the San Francisco office as a Client Staff Assistant in the Corporate Practice. When I started this journey as a Harold Burson Fellow I did not anticipate that I would love working in public relations so much and that this agency would be such a good culture fit for me. I am overjoyed that they want to keep me here and that this has all fallen into place so seamlessly.
I am going to Seattle next week to collect the rest of my belongings and to sell my car – then I am back in San Francisco for my first official day on April 14th! A big thank you to Kim Hunter, Ericka Iniguez and all of the people at The LAGRANT Foundation for giving me this life changing opportunity! I am so incredibly grateful for what LAGRANT does and I want be involved with the foundation for years to come.

*Samra Mengitsu is a 2014 Harold Burson Fellow and an alumna of the University of Washington

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Week Three As A Harold Burson Fellow by Samra Mengitsu

On Monday I participated in a technology practice meeting and in the meeting a senior associated stated, “There is no such thing as multi-tasking – there is only task-switching”. This idea really resonated with me and set the tone for the rest of my week in the office. This has been the most hectic week at Burson yet and I have had to learn (quickly) how to prioritize different projects and how to speak with supervisors about deadlines. I have come to realize that you can only do one thing at a time and it is unwise to take on more than you can handle. As an intern or junior person in a company it can be very intimidating to tell a manager that you already have a lot of work and cannot realistically take on their project that day – but my colleagues at Burson have been showing me how to negotiate deadlines in a tactful way.

This week I have learned how to focus on one project at a time without being distracted by all of the requests and emails that are coming in. My supervisor, Kathryn, explained to me that I am being asked to do so many projects because people have heard that I am doing a good job – so that was very encouraging! I am enjoying the fast pace of PR at Burson and I appreciate that I am at an agency that is pushing me to work hard. I have learned so much by being here and by being around the incredibly smart people who work here.

This fellowship experience has shown me that I do want to work for a company that will challenge me and help me develop my skills. Next week will be the last week of my fellowship and during that time I will be interviewing for an entry level position in the corporate practice. I am very excited about this opportunity and hope that Burson is able to hire me! 

Samra Mengitsu is a Harold Burson Fellow at the agency's San Francisco office and is an alum of the University of Washington. 

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