UWO alumni featured as keynotes at MVPr forum

Katie Biersach

The Julie Henderson Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter hosted its MVPr Forum that featured prominent PR alumni and keynote speakers April 11. “Basically, we just wanted to get a bunch of alumni together to kind of speak to students throughout Wisconsin about their own career paths coming from UW Oshkosh,” Co-Forum Director, Sam Broughton said. Broughton said the event was not limited to journalism majors. “There [was] no certain major,” Broughton said. “It’s titled MVPr basically because it was set up by PRSSA, but honestly it covers anything from marketing, advertising, public relations to communication and even [radio-TV-film].” There were two keynote speakers at the forum who are UW Oshkosh alumni. According to Broughton,Patrick Stiegman, the vice president of ESPN.com and Print Media and Jeff Griffith, the creative director for Men’s Health, both those keynote speakers are from UW Oshkosh. Professionals had the opportunity to talk to students about their professions in the breakout sessions. Broughton said there were breakout sessions where Vice President and Creative Director at Bader Rutter Mike Fredrick, President and CEO at Big Shoes Midwest Martha Carrigan and Media Director at StarbucksAnne Enright who had their own hour-long sessions. Broughton said there was a second breakout session with a new set of speakers later in the day. According to Broughton, there was another breakout session that featured Senior Associate and sports PR at Burson-Marstellar, Shane Arman, President and Owner of Red Shoes PR, Lisa Cruz and Director, writer and brand content at Rascals and Rogues, Kerry Shaw Brown. Broughton said PRSSA decided to hold a forum because Henderson will be retiring after this semester. “We’ve been thinking about doing a forum for the last couple of semesters, and we figured since it’s Dr. H[enderson’s] last semester this would probably be the best time to do it,” Broughton said. Fredrick spoke to students about his day-to-day responsibilities at his firm and how he got into the field of public relations. “The main thing I do is, creative teams come to me and show me their rough ideas and I help them shape them [and to] help push them in directions they may not have may thought about,” Fredrick said. Fredrick said no two days or even hours at his work are the same, which is a reason why he loves his job. “The thing I like most about working in an ad agency is that every single moment of every single day is completely different,” Fredrick said. “Sometimes it’s really hard, sometimes it’s really fun, sometimes it’s really stressful, but it’s always different.” According to Fredrick, he actually started in the business school but later switched to journalism because he wanted to be involved in the creative side of advertising. “What I really loved about the journalism department here was that it was small, it was focused [and] the professors were all in it together,” Fredrick said. Fredrick said the students grew very close to each other and the professors. “It was a really good environment to learn because there was a lot of comradery and a lot of people tried to help each other out which was awesome,” Fredrick said. Broughton said he hopes students learned a great deal from the guest speakers at the forum. “We just kind of hope they [gained] some career insight and [learned] the ins and outs of whatever profession they would like to go into,” Broughton said. According to President of PRSSA Isaac Haight, the MVPr co-forum directors did a great job organizing the event. “Sam Broughton and Andrea Larson put in a ton of hard work getting the great speakers we had,” Haight said. Haight said it was great to see the alumni willing to come back to UWO and to talk to students about their career paths. “Some of the alumni that UW Oshkosh has are literally unmatchable even within the state of Wisconsin,” Haight said. “I mean, how many universities can say that they have a VP at ESPN, a creative director at Men’s Health and the list just goes on and on.” According to Haight, his favorite part was getting to network with the speakers and connect with them. According to Fredrick, the forum was a great opportunity for students. “Taking advantage of learning every way you can is important, so this forum was a terrific way to do that,” Fredrick said. “I think [my favorite part was] the realization that even with the big titles behind their names, that all these guys and women are approachable,” Haight said. “They’re down-to-earth people.”