Three students have been awarded scholarships from the WVU Reed College of Media’s General IMC/DMC Scholarship Fund. Recipients Rita Yelda of Browns Mills, New Jersey, Jai-Leen James of Neptune, New Jersey, and Kaitlin Scoffone of Baltimore, Maryland, were among 88 students who applied for the scholarships.
“We know that the students in our online graduate programs are exceptional, but each year the pool of scholarship applicants reminds us just how exceptional they are,” said Chad Mezera, the assistant dean of online programs for the College of Media who established the scholarship in 2017 with his wife and fellow alum and employee, Catherine Mezera. “I am incredibly thankful for those who have contributed to this scholarship fund, as these students are beyond deserving of this award.”
Yelda, a student in the Integrated Marketing Communications program, is the daughter of refugees and a first-generation college graduate. Yelda is an advocate for social change. While earning her bachelor’s degree in sociology from SUNY Buffalo State College in New York, she took on leadership roles with Buffalo State Students for Peace, an anti-war group, and Buffalo State Pride Alliance, which supports LGBTQ+ people like herself and their allies. She has held communications roles with several nonprofit organizations including Food & Water Watch, Planned Parenthood, Faculty Support Line, the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership and in her current role as Outreach and Communications Manager for the Coalition for the Deleware River Watershed.
“It has always been important to me to not only have a successful career, but to feel as though I am contributing to progress in the world,” Yelda wrote in her scholarship application. “The Integrated Marketing Communications degree appealed to me because it is ultimately my goal to be a communications director and then chief communications officer for a nonprofit or political party doing important work that I believe in.”
Like Yelda, Jai-Leen James is the daughter of immigrants who moved to the United States from Jamaica to provide a better life for their children. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and new media from Towson University and is a member of the National Society for Black Journalists. In 2019, James accepted a position on the digital production team for the USA TODAY Network that exposed her to the business side of journalism and opened her eyes to the wealth of information found in multi-channel analytics. The very next year, James applied and was accepted into the WVU Digital Marketing Communications graduate program.
“This program has already taught me skills needed to excel in my profession. I was recently promoted to a larger, regional role, and I believe that my implementation of the skills I've learned thus far has contributed to that achievement,” said James, who also has a passion for supporting future journalists and amplifying the voices of those less fortunate. “The world needs change, compassion and understanding. And I will contribute to that growth."
Data Marketing Communications student Kaitlin Scoffone earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from West Virginia University. She has held positions in sales, business development and digital marketing for a variety of agencies. Through that work experience, Scoffone has mastered skills in website development, social media management, Google Analytics and more, and discovered a passion for marketing that relies on data to get the right message to the people most likely to benefit from it. Not only is the Data program helping to fulfill that passion, but the online format allows Scoffone to juggle school with motherhood and her full-time job as a social media marketing coordinator for Sinclair Broadcast Group.
“This program will prepare me to dive headfirst into a data-driven company where the numbers tell the story of successes and failures, rather than relying on best guesses and traditional marketing efforts,” Scoffone said. “By understanding the inherent needs of people - people with lives, children, jobs, mortgages, etc. - marketing becomes about so much more than just showing an ad to a person to drive a purchase. The impact potential of marketing on the world at large is limitless and I hope to be a force in that journey.”
These 2021 IMC/DMC scholarship recipients join the nine others who have received the award since its creation in 2017. Applicants must be enrolled in one of the College of Media online master’s programs in Data, Digital or Integrated Marketing Communications. A scholarship committee reviews and selects the winners each year. This is the first and only scholarship dedicated to online graduate students in the College of Media.
For more information about the scholarship, to see a full list of recipients or to make a donation, visit https://marketingcommunications.wvu.edu/alumni/imc-dmc-scholarship-donor-roll.