#AlumniSpotlight: Lauren Lee

Lauren Lee graduated from the SJMC with a degree in public relations in 2004. Since then, Lee has become involved in Corporate Media Relations at Dell Inc. in Round Rock. Congrats on your successes, Lauren!

 

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#AlumniSpotlight: Tiffany Young

Tiffany young is a recent 2016 graduate from our Public Relations sequence in the SJMC. While at Texas State, Young served in multiple student organizations, including Student Government, Student Organizations Council, Cat Camp, and Student Foundation. Young is now a Deputy Account Associate at ROSS Communications in Austin. Congrats, Tiffany!

#AlumniSpotlight: Elan Tavor

alumnispotlight_elantavor copyElan Tavor graduated from the SJMC with a degree in Public Relations in 2001. Now a home builder with The Tavor Company and real estate broker with John Daugherty Realtors, Tavor says his degree has been an incredible asset throughout his career.

“I had an incredible educational experience at Texas State (SWT when I was there). The class sizes were small enough to allow for the best professor/student interaction, which allowed me to get the most out of the courses I completed. The professors I had truly had a profound impact on me at the time and what I learned still influences me today. The public relations skills learned at the SJMC have helped me tremendously at various times throughout my career.”

SJMC student Jay Martinez and his band ‘Across the Atlantic’ signs record deal

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It’s not uncommon to apply for graduate school to buy some time while figuring out how to navigate the career market, figuring out where you fit in. It is, however, rather uncommon that a masters graduate and his band of over five years ends up signing a deal with a record label just weeks after the spring commencement. That’s now; let’s back up to when things started.

Jay Martinez had just graduated high school and enrolled in the University of Texas at San Antonio when he realized that he needed a social group, a small network to enjoy while he wasn’t studying for his, at the time, undeclared major. So, he did what any sane person with a laptop seeking friends would do: posted an add on Craigslist. And as they say in the business, the rest is history.

Well, not quite that easy. Jay said he just wanted some people to hang out with.

“I posted a craigslist ad to see if anyone wanted to come over and play, and that was an adventure on its own. We pieced it together from there. None of us ever imagined this would be a career pursuit,” said Jay.

After sifting through the odd, scary, and off-putting responses, Jay secured 4 friends to play music with him to pass the time, and just like that the band had a name, Across the Atlantic, and his social endeavor transformed into a way of life. Eventually.

Jason Lugo (Guitar), Julio Bautista (Guitar), Jayy Garza (Bass). and Cody Cook (Drums) would meet up and play regularly at Jay’s (vocals) parent’s house, slowly realizing that the group they had formed may be more than a casual jam session to pass the time. Eventually, the band realized that not knowing each other and recording with a group of strangers was a blessing in disguise, creating the authentic and diverse sound that they produce today. So, the band agreed their music would become their top priority over friends, school, and even relationships.

“It took such a toll on all of us, but we all had a common goal to make the band everything we knew it could be. We were quite messy in the beginning, but it ended up working for us,” said Jay.

Starting Out

The band managed to release two albums on their own, scraping by financially and working day and night to promote their music for any sort of return on their investment. But the albums did not make money and would not see a profit for a long time. Even so, Jay and the band continued to write, produce, and tour by using their own dollar and own expertise. Luckily, Jay’s education proved most helpful.

After happening into his communication studies major in his undergrad, Jay realized his passion for communication with an audience, through spoken word, song, or otherwise.

“I took my first public speaking course and that was a game changer for me. I was always very shy when speaking, but I learned that speaking could be a performance. The more I did speeches, the more I was charismatic in my performance, “ said Jay.

Learning Lessons

And Jay never stopped performing, both on and off stage. His time in the SJMC at Texas State the past two years taught him a valuable lesson- never underestimate your own power to market yourself.

“People aren’t going to go spend money on a concert for a band they have never heard of, so we had to sell ourselves. What I learned in class was how important your image is, how important content is, and how important engagement with your audience is. These aren’t practical skills for most, and I learned this firsthand,” said Jay.

After learning that starting a band is not as easy as writing songs and making good music, Jay applied some of his practical skills from the classroom. His class with Dr. Judy Oskam, Creative Problem-Solving, proved to him that there is always a way to navigate an issue.

“I had always heard about how great Dr. Oskam was, but I hadn’t had a class with her yet. So I signed up and ended up learning that there is no problem too large. Dr. Oskam’s help and feedback were amazing,” said Jay.

Getting To Work

Jay’s education and the band’s drive to succeed kept them above water for five years, but things began to take a turn as Jay began his last month of his graduate program. He began to feel the pressure of the financial constraints and began to compare himself to everyone else in his life who had their lives together, a family, kids. So he turned to his friends and family for sage advice, and the result was not what he anticipated.

“The people I went to suggested putting everything (the band) to the side and focusing more on my ‘career’- that was my fire. At that moment, I wanted to prove everybody wrong and that was the inspiration for this album. It’s not that they wanted to hurt me, they believed in me and wanted the best for me and everything they said was true. This is what provoked me to continue,” said Jay.

And so, he wrote. He worked with his music and lyrics in a way that he had never before.

“I went in thinking this is the last bit of music that I may produce. Writing this album was the first time that I wrote with no inhibitions, and just so much ambition. I put everything out there. I wanted to be at peace if this was it. And that sort of mentality drove me to a place where I found complete freedom in writing,” said Jay.

He and the band, who he had not yet told about his reservations to continue with the band, started recording their most recent album in the spring. Knowing that this album may be the last he worked on, Jay felt conflicted. After they recorded the music and were mixing the tape, he let the band know that this may be his last go.

“It took everybody by a huge surprise. We were still in the studio mixing and things were tense for the next two days. No one knew what the future held for the band,” said Jay.

But just as unexpected as successfully piecing together a band from a Craigslist ad, things took a dramatic turn two days later as they sat in their hotel lobby at a quiet breakfast.

The Deal

“My phone rang and the caller ID said ‘Germany’ which I had never seen before. On the other end, a person with broken English began to speak, introducing themselves as a person from Sharp Tone Records…they offered us a record deal! It was so unexpected. We are just so thankful for our producer, who gave us the guidance and advice of how to maneuver ourselves through the ranks,” said Jay.

As you may have guessed, the band accepted the deal and Jay’s decision was confirmed- the show must go on. This summer the band began preparing for their first international tour ever, leaving for Europe in September, where they will debut songs from their most recent album, Works of Progress.

“These songs are so much more emotional than our last albums. Our albums are just so diverse. You can find metal, acoustic, and pop, and everybody defines us differently. It gives us so much freedom knowing that I am not boxed in by any constraints. As long as it sounds good, everything goes,” said Jay.

The band is excited to debut themselves alongside their new label abroad, which Jay says is a suitable start to a new beginning.

“This band was established on the foundation of diversity. It was hard at first to take other influences into our music at first, but different views have made our music what it is today. Across the Atlantic is the embodiment of being open to different people and different backgrounds. I think music is one of the things in life that can be considered as universal, regardless of religion, who you are, where you live,” said Jay.

Works of Progress

Works of Progress, a fitting title to describe their journey and progress, debuts on Labor Day and is available on the Across the Atlantic’s website, Sharp Tone Records site, and on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Spotify for streaming. Three singles have already been released for your listening pleasure. The band is also presenting a free show to give back to the community that has supported them for over five years: San Antonio and surrounding areas. The concert is on August 18th, starting at 7:00 pm at The Korova in San Antonio. The band is expected to take the stage around 9:30 pm.

The band will be selling their new album at The Korova and it is available for preorder today. Check it out on any of the services mentioned above.

Perhaps in the future, Jay will pursue his Ph.D. to give back to the world of academia, but for now, it’s full steam ahead for the band.

“I eventually want to focus on leaving my imprint on the media market by teaching so that I can be on both sides of the industry. But I am listening to my heart right now and that is what I want to inspire people to do. Don’t ever give up on your passion, just learn to trust your heart and emotions to lead you in the right direction,” said Jay.

It is this passion and drive to start the band that fuels each member today. Follow Jay and the band on their social platforms and Jay’s blog to see what they are up to next. If the past is any indicator of the future, we know it will be an amazing journey to follow.

Facebook                          Twitter                          Instagram

Check out their music video and PSA against domestic violence: “Sundress Funeral”

Alum Spotlight: Kevin Quintero

From valet attendant to co-founder of a digital marketing agency, Kevin Quintero is the definition of an innovated entrepreneur. Tenoch Labs is the brain child of two roommates who didn’t want to work under anyone besides themselves and knew that containing their creative minds would be selfish. With his “If anyone can do it, I can do it better” mentality, Quintero has manifested the perfect amount of perseverance to become a successful entrepreneur.

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Raised in Dallas, Quintero found his calling in digital media at a very young age. He recalls falling in love with film, editing and storytelling by the seventh grade. After attending Dallas Community College Quintero was drawn to the nature scene of central Texas and knew San Marcos was the place to be. Once Quintero researched Texas State’s electronic media program it was deemed the ideal next step towards his career.

When Quintero arrived in San Marcos he fell in love with the city, Texas State and most importantly, the professors at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Out of every resource Texas State offers, Quintero advises students to take full advantage of creating relationships with professors.

“The professors are really good people, they’re real people. They’re just there to teach. Mass Comm professors are good at communicating and want to build relationships with you. They know their field. They know everything is changing and media is shifting,” Quintero says.

Many of Quintero’s peers tell him that he is lucky for finding something is he so passionate about and that it comes naturally. They fail to realize the amount of time and effort that has been put into perfecting his craft. “Nothing comes easy, it’s not supposed to come easy,” says Quintero. He recommends that anyone who lacks a passion should try to do something they hate and they might find the love in it.

Quintero had no idea what advertising and marketing even consisted of until he was working as a valet attendant for a building that housed a marketing agency. When he searched the name of the business, he discovered that his hobbies matched almost every service they offered. At this point, he knew he could capitalize off his skill. His mindset during school began to take an entrepreneurial approach and thought of ways he could sell what he was being taught. Quintero explained, “You got to see beyond the textbook. How can I make money off of this? How can I offer this to someone that has money?”

As graduation was approaching, Quintero and his roommate, Hector Sifuentes, were managing their new business, Intel Productions, with minor projects. He was advised by peers and professors that seeking out a position with an agency would be a safer plan. Quintero expressed that it didn’t feel right to him, he had fallen in love with free creativity and the business.

One of Intel Productions first major projects was a collaborative effort with public relations agency, APC Collective. A Jarritos commercial created by the roommates for the agency and caught the attention of APC Collective. This was the start of a beneficial relationship between the two. After the project, Quintero made sure to keep in touch with the founder of the agency. The founder pleaded with Quintero to keep Intel Productions thriving and not work for anyone else, emphasizing that he will be underpaid and they are worth more. After voicing his concern with a living wage, the founder of APC collective offered to assist Quintero and Sifuentes and officially invest in the newly rebranded Tenoch Labs.

Jarritos: Love is Super Good from Intel Productions on Vimeo.

Kevin Quintero is now living out his digital media dream and can’t exaggerate enough how great it feels. Quintero’s main piece of advice to others is to never stop doing what you love, “Just keep working hard and then one person looks at your work and says ‘damn that’s awesome,’ and that one person turns to two and so on. You just can’t stop working.”

Texas State alum lands job at Edelman NYC

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Christopher Henry – Photo from LinkedIn

By: Jennifer Alvord

Texas State alumnus Christopher Henry has recently landed a job at Edelman, the largest public relations firm in the world, in New York City.

Henry is a part of the public affairs team and works with clients such as Microsoft, McGraw Hill Financial and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development (MEDEI).

Henry is the former executive director of Bobcat Promotions, a student-run public relations firm on campus, and said that it taught him many valuable skills before graduating.

“Being able to walk into an interview saying, ‘I know how to write a press release’ or ‘I know how to pitch to a business’ was a vital thing for me and definitely helped me get to where I am now,” Henry said.

Before being recruited to Edelman, Henry interned for the U.S. Senator of New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, on her public affairs team and also interned for Brunswick Group, which is a financial crisis firm.

Henry couldn’t stress enough how critical internships are. “If you want to be successful in PR, you have to go above and beyond and get out of classroom experience.”

Henry also thinks that a major key to being a successful PR practitioner is to constantly be networking. “Network everywhere you go,” Henry said. “I still use many of the contacts that I’ve made throughout my career at my job at Edelman.”

Digital Speaker Series features SJMC graduate and NY Times staffer Maira Garcia

by Becky Larson:

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Maira Garcia at TX State’s Digital Speaker Series

Maira Garcia is a senior staff editor at the New York Times. She works to organize, strategize and push content for the paper’s homepage, NYTimes.com.

Interviewed by digital media graduate student Jordon Brown and speaking to what felt like a hometown crowd, Garcia, who is a Texas State graduate, returned to the university this past week as the most recent speaker in the SJMC’s Digital Entrepreneurship Series.

“I learned a lot at TX State…”

Garcia earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree with Texas State and was one of the first to matriculate under the graduate program’s Digital Media concentration.

It was this skills-focused digital concentration that she told the audience was one of the most important aspects of her time at Texas State.

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Strategic Opportunities for Students to Transfer to Texas State

Harry BowersOn November 24, Assistant Director Harry Bowers met with Marianne Odem, Chair of the Media Communication Department at San Antonio College (SAC), and members of her faculty. The goal of the meeting was to review changes to both schools’ institutional core and program curricula, and to review and develop strategies to maximize opportunities for two-year college students planning to transfer to Texas State. Assistant Director, Bowers was honored to be informed by SAC that the School of Journalism and Mass Communication is about the most student-centered institution that San Antonio College has worked with in assisting transfer students.

For more information about The Media Communication Department at the San Antonio College (SAC), please visit http://www.alamo.edu/sac/mediacomm/.

An Internship Bound to Happen

MacKenzie Smith

McKenzie Smith

McKenzie Smith grew up in New Braunfels, Texas, where weekly trips to the local waterpark, Schlitterbahn, were her favorite activity. As a teen, she spent her summers working as a lifeguard for the park, but eventually she knew she wanted to do more for the company.

After graduating high school, she decided to pursue a degree in public relations at Texas State University. Currently, She holds an internship with the water park where she is getting hands-on experience working with press releases, social media and updating their media website, “Schlitterbahn Newsroom”.

Her passion for the company and the field she works in keeps her motivated while she strives to better herself and the company. As a consecutive dean’s list recipient, Smith prides herself on her ability to quickly learn and adapt to every situation. She describes herself as being a hard working perfectionist with a strong focus on innovation, always trying to find new ways to reach her audiences. Smith can also be described as a “people person”, someone who has the ability to strike up and hold a conversation with anybody. She can also be described as strong-willed and independent as she held a job all four years of college to pay for her education.

“She [Smith] has been a determined and hardworking addition to the team,” said Winter Prosapio
, Corporate Director of Communications at Schlitterbahn. “She’s a leader, a person you can count on to solve any problem no matter how fast a deadline may be approaching.”

With graduation in May 2014, Smith is looking to take the skills she has acquired into her future career. With a strong passion, great work ethic and a desire for greatness, McKenzie Smith will be a great asset to any company.

Texas State Alum launches professional career working for the Houston Rockets

houstonBy Alise Lyles:

What do you want to be when you grow up?” was never a difficult question for Texas State alum (2012) Kevin Rawls.

“All I knew was that I wanted to merge the two things I enjoyed most into a career: sports and mass communication,” said Rawls.

Today, Rawls finds the perfect balance between his childhood dream and his career path by landing a marketing job with the NBA’s Houston Rockets.

Rawls majored in mass communication with an emphasis in public relations for reasons he believes many take for granted: the ability to interact and communicate effectively on an everyday basis with new people. Rawls expresses that having the opportunity to do that for the rest of his life is something he looks forward to.

Since childhood, Rawls has always had an interest in sports and an even more so an appreciation for the game of basketball. As a former athlete himself, he is intrigued by the thought of working around professional athletes on a more personal, day-to-day basis.

“Working with them has given me the opportunity to meet countless NBA players, professionals and corporate partners and make lasting impressions”, said Rawls.

Rawls credits the School of Journalism and Mass Communication for helping him in preparation for his job with the Houston Rockets. Specifically, PR Campaigns course with Chuck Kaufman made the largest impact says Rawls.

“What I like about [Kaufman] is that he goes above and beyond to help anyone, not just his students, to find the job they are looking for. He wants to make sure that graduating seniors aren’t left in the dark desperately looking for a job after they leave Texas State, and I can say he definitely did that for me”, said Rawls.

Rawls stresses the meaning of using your resources to the fullest in order to reach your full potential as an employee. Rawls urges students currently on the job hunt or searching for internships is to be VIGILANT, especially when it comes to the use of resources and weighing out options.

“You are a walking resume. Every day is a day to show others who you are and what you are about because someone is always watching even when you don’t realize it.