Seven students have been awarded scholarships from the WVU Reed College of Media’s General IMC/DMC Scholarship Fund in 2022-23.
“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.”
Nicolina Converso, a student in the Integrated Marketing Communications program, is currently serving in the U.S. Coast Guard as a public affairs officer in media relations. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Converso moved around as a child while her father served in the U.S. Army before following his footsteps of joining the military. She enlisted in 2010 and has been deployed eight times in her 12+ years with the Coast Guard. Converso graduated Officer Candidate School in November of 2020 before being stationed in Buffalo, New York, and Washington, D.C. She has dedicated her life to public service and always looks for ways to give back to the communities she lives in. While serving, she has raised money for Save-A-Gato in Puerto Rico, volunteered at soup kitchens in Charleston, South Carolina, and has kept an active membership with the Daughters of the American Revolution. Converso is new to her role as a public affairs officer and currently serves as a public affairs officer in media relations at the Commandants office in Washington, D.C.
“Most people think that changing the world means that you have some great significant impact on a vast scale, but that is not necessarily true. My plan to change the world is in my small acts of kindness and how I can positively impact those around me,” Converso wrote in her application. “Life has taught me that the impact we make on others' lives, no matter how small or big, positive or negative, can change them, their circumstances or mindset.”
Jenna Cooper, a student in the Integrated Marketing Communications program, is a native of Wellsburg, West Virginia. Cooper earned her bachelor's degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at West Virginia University in May 2022 before returning back to the northern panhandle of West Virginia. Cooper held an internship with the nonprofit Wheeling Symphony Orchestra where she aided with customer relationship management and event planning. Currently, Cooper is a marketing assistant for Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal in Wheeling, West Virginia, where she started as an intern before working her way into a full-time position. She started the IMC program to help her create mission-driven initiatives for fellow employees in the marketing sphere.
“I want to help make a difference in people’s lives and the livelihoods of communities,” Cooper wrote in her application. “I want to improve employee wellness, creating the best experience possible while they are on and off the clock. I want to be proud of my company’s message and position knowing that the hard work has paid off.”
Megan Hansen, a student in the Integrated Marketing Communications program, currently serves as a communications specialist for UC Davis Health. Hansen earned her bachelor’s in journalism in 2010 and spent five years as a newspaper reporter in Northern California. She made the transition to healthcare marketing communications after witnessing some of the experiences of her family and surviving a brain tumor when she was in high school. While working in marketing communications, Hansen still freelances to keep up with the world of journalism and volunteers her marketing communications skills to her meditation group to update their website, calendars and social media profiles. In addition to her work, Hansen has a five-year-old daughter and four pets.
“My goal as an integrated marketing communications professional is to ensure that everyone has access to the healthcare services they deserve from highly trained, qualified, and caring providers,” Hansen wrote in her application. “Through my work, I want to change the healthcare education system for the better and support nursing students, medical students, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in becoming the best clinicians they can be.”
Aiesha Hemeda, a Digital Marketing Communications student, currently serves as a public information specialist with the New York State Office of General Affairs. Hemeda has a passion for helping underfunded communities that started when she worked with nonprofits like RISSE, an organization that provides resources to refugees and immigrants. In 2020, she worked on a crisis communications plan for African American history museum and was a social media coordinator for the National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect. Hemeda completed her undergraduate degree in public relations and advertising from The College of Saint Rose in New York in 2022.
“I have a passion for communications because I believe it is built on storytelling, and that it is essential the important stories be told, especially for those who are unable to speak for themselves,” Hemeda wrote in her application. “As the child of an immigrant myself, I advocate for raising awareness and support for children of immigrants.”
Kirsten McAlpin, an Integrated Marketing Communications student, currently serves as the director of marketing and public relations for Conger LP Gas, Inc., a propane company that serves 33 counties in southern Georgia. McAlpin graduated with a bachelor of arts in communications from Columbus State University. Before working in her current role, she toured as a country musician and worked as an on-air personality for iHeartMedia where she worked with St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital’s Radiothon. McAlpin was named Southeast Propane Alliance’s ambassador for “Women in Propane” which was established to provide opportunities for propane industry professionals to support the advancement and success of all employees in every scope of business operation and professional development.
“I have a huge heart and affinity for my community and the people that live in it. I love being on numerous boards and volunteering for various organizations that really make a difference in the lives of people in my town,” McAlpin wrote in her application. “What I am doing in my professional and personal life might not change the world, but I do feel like it is making an impact on lives and making the world a little brighter.”
Julie Thomm, an Integrated Marketing Communications student, is a native of West Virginia. She graduated from West Virginia University with an undergraduate degree in public relations in 2008 and also served as a WVU cheerleader. Thomm currently serves as a government relations director for the American Heart Association where she works to pass impactful health policies in West Virginia. In her spare time, she is on the Capital Midwestern Little League Board, a member of the PTA and the Homeroom Mom for her daughter’s second grade class. She also volunteers with WVARF, an organization dedicated to helping folks with disabilities obtain sustainable work.
“After completing my undergraduate at WVU, I have been able to use my degree and skills in every single step of my career journey,” Thomm wrote in her application. “I am honored and thrilled to be back and to finish the next portion of my educational journey as a Mountaineer!”
Sydney Wyer, an Integrated Marketing Communications student, currently serves as a marketing coordinator for Middletown Homes in Morgantown, West Virginia. Wyer hails from a rural town in Appalachia, and earning a master's degree is something she thought was a far-fetched goal for most of her life until she met IMC alumni. Wyer earned her bachelor’s degree from Marshall University in 2021 as a second-generation college student. She is passionate about storytelling and helping people communicate effectively to reach their goals. Her favorite projects in her current position are community-oriented and range from Christmas gifts for foster children to hosting puppy adoptions days with the local humane society. Wyer and her husband recently moved to Morgantown, West Virginia.
“It feels so rewarding to put in the work of planning and organizing ways that you can get involved in the community and see how everyone involved can connect and make a difference,” Wyer wrote in her application. “Whether it be a local nonprofit that works directly in one community or a national nonprofit that impacts millions of people, I believe this type of work will allow me to put my skills and passion to use.”
These 2022-23 IMC/DMC scholarship recipients join the 12 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
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