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Real-world touchpoints: ADPR students contribute to campus life

Written by Rachel Johnson, ADPR/MSJ 4+1 student ADPR Students ADPR students Paige McElroy, Payton Litton, Grace Sears, Maddie Wirebach, David Malecki and Rachel Johnson

Whether it’s showing prospective students around campus or taking sideline photos in Milan Puskar Stadium, Advertising and Public Relations (ADPR) students play important roles at WVU. You see them in front of the camera as Homecoming Royalty and the official Mountaineer Mascot, but they’re also working behind the scenes in a variety of ways.

Senior ADPR student Paige McElroy was named WVU Homecoming Royalty in October.

“Representing the Reed College of Media as Homecoming Royalty was the greatest honor because of the opportunities the College and the people within it have provided me,” McElroy said. “I used communications and design skills during my homecoming campaign and was able to coordinate with volunteers to create and run my campaign Instagram page, complete with graphics and photos.”

Fellow Media College student Payton Litton was at the helm of McElroy’s campaign. She helped with promotion, social media content creation and overall campaign management. An ADPR major with a double minor in Marketing and Music Industry, Litton also serves as a tour guide with the WVU Visitors Center.

“Each shift I work at the Visitors Center, I am able to positively engage with prospective students as well as their families,” Litton said. “Throughout the time spent with these students and families, I am able to share the feeling of home that WVU has given me and so many other students.”

Litton is not the only ADPR student to serve as a tour guide. Seniors Grace Sears and Maddie Wirebach also serve in this important role.

“In our advertising and public relations classes we learn to stand confidently in front of crowds, represent important clients and interact with new people all the time,” Sears said. “These are important skills that translate well to public-facing roles and skills that I use every day.”

Wirebach agrees that the interactions she shares with people are important parts of the job. She said, “Being a tour guide for WVU is an honor. We are often the first impressions people have of the University, and with that comes serious responsibility.”

While ADPR students serve the University in highly visible roles like tour guides and Homecoming Royalty, they also work behind the scenes as photographers and event planners. Senior David Malecki works as a photographer for WVU University Relations, a job he says doubles as both fun and professional experience.

“I think my favorite part is being able to see things that many students don’t have the opportunity to experience,” Malecki said. “Whether it's promotional shoots for athletics teams, joining Adventure WV on their first-year trips, coverage of sports or major WVU events, I am able to experience so many exciting things that go on within the University.”

Beyond capturing special moments at WVU, College of Media students also have a hand in planning events.

Rachel Johnson, a student in the ADPR/M.S. Journalism 4+1 program, serves as the student chair of Mountaineer Week — a week on campus to celebrate Appalachian culture.

“I love that I get to have such a hands-on role in planning, promoting and executing a large university-wide event, and I attribute my success in this role to the skills I learned as a student in the Reed College of Media,” Johnson said.

In addition to the knowledge and skills students learn within the college, there’s also a great deal of emphasis placed on professionalism and real-world experiences. This combination allows College of Media students to stand out as top candidates for student worker or internship positions.

“We empower students to pursue opportunities outside of the classroom and prepare them to be leaders in these roles,” said Geah Pressgrove, associate professor and ADPR program chair. “My greatest joy is hearing that one of my students has landed an internship or job. They are prepared, and they deserve it.”