What are some of your biggest professional accomplishments since graduating?
I'm very thankful for each of the jobs I've had since graduating from Virginia Tech in 2012. From leading the social media efforts of theatreWashington's Helen Hayes Awards recognizing theatre excellence in the Greater Washington, DC area to managing the digital accounts of some of the most prestigious entertainment brands here in LA, each experience has allowed me to expand my skill set, meet incredible people, and truly enjoy various roles in the world of digital marketing and strategy.
How did you make the most of your VT Marketing experience and how did this prepare you for your career?
One of the best decisions I've ever made was agreeing to help start PRISM with Charlotte Ryland and Donna Wertalik — my former professor, my mentor, and my friend. Donna's leadership, innovation, and charisma empowered me to test the limits and never settle for the status quo. Back in 2010, social media marketing was fairly new, and many thought it was just a trend that would soon phase out like many other "fads." However, she knew it was so much more than that, and when she asked me and Charlotte to be the student leaders of the organization, I gladly accepted. PRISM gives students the opportunity to work in a professional setting and for real-world clients — an experience that many students don't have until after graduating. Steering the team with my Co-CMO (Charlotte), we supported Donna in creating a legacy that continues to thrive and strengthen more and more each year. Communication, organization, collaboration, prioritization, and innovation were all key skills developed through PRISM, and I owe a great deal of my success in the professional realm to Donna and PRISM.
What do you love most about living and working in LA?
My top three favorite things about Los Angeles would have to be the beautiful So-Cal weather, being in the epicenter of the entertainment industry, and the people. There are so many different cultures and personalities from nearly every part of the globe. People bring their unique experiences and skills from various places across the world, and having the opportunity to work alongside a diverse array of talent motivates me to always bring my A-Game and push to do better and face every challenge head-on. Oh, and the food. The food in LA is... (chef's kiss)
Describe your most exciting celebrity encounter?
Since moving to LA in 2015 and managing a list of entertainment accounts, I've had the opportunity to work with some pretty well-known celebrities, including Hugh Jackman, Gal Gadot, Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, and Samuel L. Jackson. However, my most exciting (and embarrassing) celebrity encounter was actually back in my hometown: Virginia Beach, VA. I was working at a local movie theater (Regal Columbus 12), and Tom Hanks randomly came to the theater to see a movie while filming his movie Captain Phillips. I couldn't resist — I asked him for an autograph and a photo, which he was kind enough to provide both. While taking the photo, I said, "The Woody is awesome!" — referring to Woody from Toy Story. I don't know why that was the first role of his prestigious career that I could think of, but he found it just as hilarious as I do now, as he repeated, "The Woody is awesome..." as we we took this photo. OH! And meeting Michelle Obama and having her speak at my 2012 Graduation was pretty epic. Her beauty, her intelligence, her presence... QUEEN. I'll never forget her incredible speech.
What is the biggest learning experience you’ve had?
I would say the biggest learning experience I've had is learning how to take care of myself. Self-care and balance have been crucial in maintaining sanity, especially during this pandemic. We all need to make sure that we're taking care of ourselves: physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you're not taking care of yourself, then you're not going to be able to take care of others and perform at your best. For a long time, I was neglecting my health, and I ended up being hospitalized for two weeks. (#ThanksKidneyStones) Sometimes, it takes something like that to shake you awake, allow you to take a step back, and assess your priorities and well-being. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!
Name three things you can’t live without?
Dogs. Food. Wine. Any dog. (Nearly) Any food. Any and all wine. Any time.
What is the one thing you wish you knew at age 19?
You're going to fail from time to time, and that's okay. HOWEVER, learn from the experiences you fail at and apply those lessons to future experiences. Nobody is perfect, and we are all doing our best. No matter what you're doing, find the fun in your work, your leisure, and your life in general. We only have one life, so live it to the fullest. Don't dwell on the past. Live in the present. And look forward to the future.