Kara Edwards will helm Washington Media Scholars Foundation as it continues its 13-year legacy of making scholarship dreams come true for hundreds of college undergrads pursuing careers in media and public policy.
With over 20 years’ experience in non-profit development, Edwards looks forward to building on the Foundation’s successful programs which equip students with scholarships and skills to advance their career goals, fueled by the generous support of WMSF’s media industry partners.
Edwards’ predecessor, Andrea Koslow, will remain actively engaged with WMSF through the Foundation’s newly formed Advisory Committee.
Washington Media Scholars Foundation (WMSF) was established in 2009 with a simple mission—to make sure that students seeking careers in media could get the support they need to graduate from college and enter the fields of media and policy. For nearly 13 years, WMSF has supported students because of the generous donations from the country’s top media companies.
2020 & 2021 challenged student, family and business finances as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. According to a recent study, more than a half million students dropped out of college during the pandemic. Research has shown us further that students who drop out are far less likely to return to school and graduate.
WMSF’s supporters have made sure that we could continue to help students stay in school by fueling scholarships and offering valuable connections that led to internships and jobs. If your company has already given in 2021, thank you. If your company has not yet given this year but would like to make a contribution, we welcome your generosity!
As we approach the season of giving and year’s end, here are a few ways companies and individuals can support Washington Media Scholars Foundation:
Thank you for making or considering a 2021 contribution to Washington Media Scholars Foundation. For more information on how to give and the impact of your support, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington Media Scholars Foundation will be hosting its first-ever Virtual Career Fair on Thursday, October 28, 2021 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. EST.
Current undergraduate students seeking media and/or policy related degrees and WMSF alumni are welcome to participate in the Virtual Career Fair.
Current confirmed participating employers include 2021 Presenting Sponsor Katz Media Group, Premier Sponsor TEGNA/Premion, Presidential Sponsor The Wall Street Journal, as well as POLITICO, The E. W. Scripps Company, GMMB and National Media. If your company is interested in participating in the 2021 Virtual Career Fair, please contact email@example.com.
Our technology platform partner is Career Fairs Plus. Interested students should download the Career Fairs Plus app and search events for Washington Media Scholars Foundation Virtual Career Fair, or visit this link.
We look forward to connecting students, alumni and sponsor companies at this year’s Virtual Career Fair on Thursday, October 28, 2021 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Eastern time. Visit this link or download the app today!
A panel of expert industry judges named Iowa State University’s Colton Boyd and Lydia Wede from Team Cardinal and Gold the winners of the 2021 Washington Media Scholars Foundation Media Plan Case Competition, presented by Katz Media. Each member of the winning team receives a $5000 scholarship.
Team Media Master Innovators, Elena Chang (Ithaca College) and Yanelis Funez (Penn State) were named runners up in the competition and will be awarded $3,000 in scholarships each. This “combo” team was comprised of members who were paired randomly after entering as individual competitors.
The final round of presentations on June 10th, 2021 took place virtually, as did all company presentations and professional development trainings. During the annual awards ceremony, held via Facebook Live, Mia Guion Scholarships of $2,500 each were awarded to Leah Busler & Danielle Popson of Union University. The awardees were selected via a criterion of “4 P’s” that were found demonstrated in the late Ms. Guion’s life: professionalism, participation, preparation and presentation. This year is the first time that 2 students were awarded this scholarship.
New this year was the first-ever National Excellence in Leadership award, given in recognition of Tim Busch’s steadfast support of Washington Media Scholars Foundation over many years. This award recognizes an exemplary individual who endeavors to support students and scholarship by partnering with the Foundation, and making a significant impact in the success of our programs and our students.
Many thanks to all of the talented finalists that participated in this year’s competition. We also thank everyone who made the 2021 Media Plan Case Competition possible—from our sponsors to students, to professors and volunteers.
The 2021 Media Scholars Case Competition, presented by Katz Media, is approaching quickly! Our competition finalists have been hard at work putting the finishing touches on their media plans and presentations. This is the third and final round of national competition! Take some time to learn more about this year’s finalists on our “Meet the Finalists” page.
The mission of WMSF is to engage with college students interested in strategic media by creating scholarship, educational and career advancement opportunities. The Media Scholars Case Competition is an annual event that allows students to apply their media skills, adapt to challenges and learn about new topics while competing for the National Excellence in Media Award. This award, a runners-up award, and the Mia Guion Scholarship total $18,500 in scholarships to be distributed. To donate and help sponsor the mission of WMSF, visit our “Donate” page.
In light of the fast approaching Media Scholars Week, we want to thank our current sponsors for making the mission of WMSF possible. The 2021 Media Scholars Presenting Sponsor, Katz Media Group, is joined by three Premier Sponsors of the program: Gray TV, TEGNA/Premion, and Resonate. Because of our many sponsors, WMSF is able to provide an outstanding experience to the Media Scholars Finalists.
The 2021 Media Scholars Week will take place virtually from June 7th to June 10th. During Media Scholars Week, finalists will learn from experts from top companies like Katz Media, TEGNA/Premion, Resonate, Gray TV, Spotify GMMB, The Wall Street Journal, Hulu, Resonate, Google, Centro and many more.
The 2021 Media Scholars Judges Panel will be comprised of industry experts from GMMB, Katz, Gray TV, TEGNA/Premion, Resonate & Purple Strategies. The annual awards ceremony for the case competition winners will occur on June 10th. Be sure to mark this date on your calendar and check back soon for an update on the ceremony details!
Washington Media Scholars Foundation was founded in 2009 to support students seeking degrees where advertising and politics intersect, awarding scholarships and opening doors of opportunity. Since then, WMSF has provided over $1 million in student support and scholarships to hundreds undergraduate students across the country.
The Mia Guion Scholarship, established in 2019, is awarded to a single Media Plan Case Competition finalist that demonstrates the highest levels of professionalism, participation, preparation, and presentation skills. The scholarship is named for Mia Guion, an alum of WMSF and a National Excellence in Media Award winner in 2017.
“Mia’s superpower was presentation,” noted Jay Newell, a professor at the Greenlee School of Journalism at Iowa State University. He was an advisor to Mia and her teammate during the 2019 Washington Media Scholars Foundation’s Media Plan Case Competition.
Ed and Camille Guion, Mia’s parents, shared that she was a natural performer and communicator, successful in music and theater as a high school student. During the search for college, Ed remembers that she chose Iowa State University because “she wanted a bigger stage.” Mia was drawn to challenges, both professionally and personally.
While Mia was a finalist in the Media Plan Case Competition in Washington, D.C. she was introduced to Michael O’Brien, VP of Distribution with The E.W. Scripps Company. This connection led her to finding her first job out of college with PHD Media in Chicago.
Some time later, Mia’s mother Camille visited Mia in Chicago around the time that she was considering a transition to another media firm, KSM (Kelly Scott Madison). Excited, they celebrated after Mia received a phone call with an offer. Within the next few hours, Mia’s single offer multiplied to three job offers from different companies. This is all part of what Camille referred to as a “ripple effect” of Mia’s success from having taken part in the Media Scholars Case Competition.
Tragically, Mia passed in June of 2018. She will be remembered not only for her determination to achieve career goals but also her willingness to help others. Prior to her passing, she remained an active alumni participant in ISU’s Greenlee School’s advertising program, advising students in the media class during multiple Skype sessions and helping guide the 2018 WMSF Case Competition teams.
“Mia Guion had a set of rare skills that I have dubbed our 4P’s: preparation, participation, professionalism, and presentation,” said Robin D. Roberts, WMSF Founder and CEO. This is the criteria for the selection of the scholarship awardee. A $2,500 scholarship is granted is given to a Media Scholars finalist in memory of Mia Guion every year during the Annual Awards Presentation & Networking Reception.
By Elisabeth Balke
Over more than a decade, the Washington Media Scholars Foundation has distributed scholarships and merit-based awards in total excess of $1 million to 500+ students from hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States. The stories of students’ career successes from the Media Scholars and Media Fellows alumni are the true treasures of both the WMSF programs.
Get to know the stories of success from the Media Scholars Case Competition Winners and Runners-Up of competitions past!
Andrews-Kunerth Alliance, 2018 Winners
This winning team has a story unlike that of any team in this round-up. The reason being that the team members, Marissa Kunerth and Allyssa Andrews, hadn’t yet met when they were paired after the qualifying round of the case competition.
“Coming from two different universities and possessing diverse professional backgrounds, Allyssa and I were able to put our heads together and take a creative and strategic approach to the case study,” Kunerth said.
Together, they presented a winning case and experienced many successes in Media Scholars week. For Kunerth this meant landing two interviews during Media Scholars Week and a job offer with the Cox Media Group soon after the week’s events concluded.
“Within two weeks after the competition, I had officially moved to Washington, D.C. and had over 1,000 LinkedIn profile views and 25 job interviews scheduled. I never imagined as a recent college graduate, I would be in the position of having multiple companies coming up to me asking if I was interested in working for them,” she said.
Kunerth is currently living in Washington, D.C. and working remotely as the Communications and Public Relations Manager for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).
Andrews is now a Senior Advertising Strategist at Veracity Media, which works with progressive political candidates and nonprofits across the country. One of her favorite parts of the competition was the access she had to working with real-life data.
“Since it’s difficult for colleges to gain access to real-life data, it’s often difficult to craft real-life scenarios,” Andrews said. “Without that initial experience with data, I don’t know if I would have gone into digital advertising immediately—and I’m very glad I did!”
Kunerth was not sure what to expect when she begin the competition, but she summed up her big take aways: “Because of WMSF, I became best friends with my randomly assigned case competition partner, Allyssa Andrews, grew my professional network that has helped me advance my career, and made DC feel more like home.”
Team Gamecocks, 2019 Winners
Two alumni and winners, Noah McGill And Suzanne Green, presented an outstanding case in 2019 as Team Gamecocks. Noah was able to give insight into their experience and tell us a little more about his recent successes.
“I think the thing I found most challenging was interpreting the data given to us to make sure I really understood the facts of the issue I was trying to solve. That was the key to my team’s eventual success,” McGill said. “We had a firm, qualitative grasp on the issue, and this set us up well for being able to strategize a solution.”
He said that as the two strategized, they asked themselves a series of questions:
Why did we make this choice?
Do we have the data to back up this argument?
Can we clearly and succinctly explain our reasoning behind it?
His most memorable moment of the case competition was getting to present Team Gamecock’s strategic media plan to judges at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Another experience he enjoyed was the opportunity to job shadow one of CNN’s Directors of Digital Partnerships & Sales. “We sat in on a conference call where senior executives discussed plans and results of a marketing campaign for the Handmaid’s Tale that CNN was partnering with Hulu on. The whole experience was fun and informative.”
“During Media Scholars week, we visited a lot of companies that span many different subcategories of the media industry but each of which use new technology in exciting ways,” McGill said. “We learned how i360 uses data science to power grassroots campaigns; how Google is allowing advertisers to reach targeted audiences through its diverse set of platforms; how Axios is using “smart brevity” to re-engage traditional audiences; and much more.”
McGill currently works as a Data Analyst at Purple Strategies in Alexandria, Virginia. “First and foremost, WMSF helped me land the job I have now,” he explained. “I’d also say it has guided my career aspirations significantly.”
His teammate, Green, now works as a Digital Media Coordinator with National Media in Alexandria, Virginia.
Bell Bottom Media, 2020 Runners-Up
The team comprising Bell Bottom Media, Avery Grundy and Kylie Kost, shared their experiences about the process of presenting their final case virtually. Learning how to present over a videoconference was a skillset both teammates picked up.
“We rehearsed our presentation every morning for about 2 months leading up to Media Scholars Week. Learning to present over zoom was a talking point I took to interviews after the competition,” said Grundy. “Right after our presentation, my partner Kylie and I called each other. We were elated and smiling ear to ear.”
Kost remembers her favorite part of the competition being the virtual presentation. “Being able to present our campaign to a panel of industry leaders … gave us real world experience and feedback,” she said, “It set me up to be able to fully think through an entire campaign.”
Both teammates have recently graduated from Iowa State University and are now working full time.
Grundy is currently working for E.W. Scripps as an Ad Operations Analyst. “I learned about ad operations during media week and from then on started looking for ad ops jobs. On top of meeting new people, you learn about so many different parts of the media industry during Media Scholars Week, some you have never heard of as a student,” she said.
Kost now works at Purple Strategies in Alexandria, Virginia as a Campaign Coordinator.
“I would not be here if it weren’t for WMSF,” she said. “I gained so many incredible connections and experiences that are helping me transition full-time at a strategy firm.”
Bearcat Consulting, 2020 Winners
The most recent winners of the Washington Media Scholars case competition are Alexander Lai and Erik Zhao from Binghamton University. Lai was able to give us insight into how the two worked as a team throughout to present the most strategic plan possible.
“I first applied to the 2019 case competition as I was interested in media strategy as a practice. I unfortunately didn’t make it to the final round that year, but I applied in 2020 with my sights set on a win,” he explained.
Using what he and his partner learned in classes, they looked at the case problem from multiple angles and evaluated each solution based on soundness of strategy.
“I was pretty surprised at the amount of data provided when I first opened up the case,” Lai noted, “Usually the cases I was familiar with were slightly more open ended, but this was a welcome change.”
For the team, the final presentation of their work was a highlight of the competition. “We definitely had to rework the way in which we presented to fit the virtual format, so we really had to focus on delivering our points as clearly as possible given we didn’t have the benefit of a physical stage,” Lai said.
Since winning the 2020 Media Scholars case competition, Lai has begun working as an Analyst for an investment bank and runs a small consulting business with a partner, part-time.
Washington Media Scholars Foundation 2020 Year in Review
Looking back to January of 2020, the Washington Media Scholars Foundation’s annual merit-based national competition was off to its usual start. The Media Plan Case Competition had a roster of exceptional schools and students ready to participate.
Not much time passed before the world recognized that 2020 was going to be a very different year. No matter the challenges, the Washington Media Scholars Foundation (WMSF) has remained dedicated to helping up-and-coming students who are passionate about making a difference in media and policy. Between the Media Scholars and the Media Fellows scholarship programs, WMSF was able to award 59 students with scholarships and support in 2020.
In June of years’ past, six teams of Media Scholars Finalists would spend a week in Washington, D.C. before their final media plan presentations. Although finalists were not able to travel this summer, the most impactful parts of the Media Scholars program were preserved. In 2020, the finalists participated in a series of virtual presentations and professional development seminars from companies including Katz Media Group, Gray TV, GMMB and Nielsen over the course of June 10th & 11th. Additional sessions about business etiquette and professional development were also a part of the itinerary.
In the same week, finalists were able to virtually present their final media plans to an expert panel of judges that included lead judge Danny Jester (GMMB), Jackie Huelbig (Centro), Tripp McLaughlin (Georgetown University) and Nicole Elie (CBS Television Stations). At the virtual awards program, the winners of the 11th annual Media Scholars case competition, Erik Zhao & Alexander Lai of Binghamton University, were awarded $5,000 in scholarships each. Avery Grundy & Kylie Kost of Iowa State University were the runners-up team, awarded $3,000 each. Finally, the second annual Mia Guion Scholarship, a $2,500 award, was earned by Kelsey Gallagher. Each of the remaining finalists were awarded a $500 scholarship to aid in the cost of their education.
Media Fellows scholarship applications to our needs-based program more than doubled for both the Fall and Spring deadlines in 2020. Financial instability caused by Covid-19 has affected more students and their families in an unprecedented scenario, making our mission more important than ever. WMSF doubled down in support of students in need and awarded 47 scholarships in 2020.
We are especially grateful to all of our sponsors and individual donors who invested in our mission in an especially challenging year for students, families and businesses nationwide. We extend our deepest thanks our first ever Presenting Sponsor, Katz Media Group, who not only contributed financially, but also gave of their time and expertise in seminars with students. Another first this year was the exclusive Premiere level sponsorship graciously donated by Resonate. We also thank our Lead level sponsors, Gray TV, Nexstar and PayClearly and Presidential sponsors, Beasley Media Group, CMG/Cox Reps, GMMB and TEGNA. Many more generous companies supported our mission this year with sponsorships and financial contributions as well as the gifts of their time and volunteering. To every one of our remarkable sponsors and donors of every amount, we are immensely grateful.
Looking ahead, we plan on safely bring students, professors, sponsors and honored guests to Washington, D.C. to honor all at the annual Awards Presentation event. We look forward to sharing the Foundation’s 2021 plans soon.
Where are They Now?
Catching up with 2019 Media Plan Case Competition finalists
By Elisabeth Balke, WMSF Intern
The Washington Media Scholars Foundation provides a host of opportunities for students. When it comes to the Media Scholars program, finalists are given a buffet-like variety of career advancing experiences in the media and public affairs industries. Some students gain a sense of perspective and direction in their desired career field. Others make professional relationships that will lead to a first job out of college. All finalists are challenged to grow in communication skills and are equipped with a greater understanding of the purposes of media planning in issues campaigns.
As each Media Scholar is unique, so are the paths each scholar has taken after graduating the program. The stories below of seven Media Scholars from 2019 attest to that.
Suzanne Green, part of the winning team in the 2019 Media Scholars case competition, now works as a Digital Media Coordinator with National Media in Alexandria, VA. Her experience has developed into a niche for programmatic and finding digital opportunities within media plans.
“I’ve been working on winning special elections and high-profile senate races just one year out of college,” Green said. She mentions that this job opportunity came directly from connections at Washington Media Scholars Foundation.
Noah McGill, the other part of the winning team in 2019, is employed as a Data Analyst at Purple Strategies in Alexandria, VA.
“For me, the biggest value of Media Scholars is that it makes students no longer feel like an industry outsider,” said McGill. “There is so much the industry has to offer, but while looking from the outside in at all of the different job titles, media types, and company focuses, it can be hard to figure out where you fit.”
Jess Mihalczo, a recent graduate of Temple University, has realized her ability to be an advocate in environmentalism because of her involvement as a Media Scholar. In the past year, she created her own project called “Earth Day: 50 Years In The Making.”
“During Media Scholars week last year, I was inspired by so many individuals and organizations who were dedicated to making a change in the world, whether that be politically or otherwise,” she said.
In the past year, she has utilized her education and passion to work with non-profits like Keep Philadelphia Beautiful. Currently, she is seeking employment in advertising and communication with an emphasis on advocacy in Philadelphia, PA.
“If it was not for WMSF [Washington Media Scholars Foundation] I would never have shifted my career path to be more altruistic and ultimately more fulfilling,” Mihalczo concluded.
Raelie Mulvey, who partnered with Mihalczo in 2019, has recently accepted a full-time position working with Aloysius, Butler & Clark in Philadelphia, PA.
“I was an intern there for three semesters, and my experience in the WMSF qualifying round and semifinals was a huge talking point for me during my interview for the internship. It was great experience for me. I hadn’t had any real-world media planning work at that point!” Mulvey continued, “I would credit the WMSF with giving me the experience to land that first internship…which has now turned into a full-time offer!”
In addition to giving her employable experiences, Mulvey remembers her final presentation to judges in Washington D.C. being a confidence building moment. In her capstone class as a senior in advertising, her group won the pitch to work for a local nonprofit.
Andreia Benites, now an Analytics Consultant, remembers Media Scholars week as a time that she was able to refine her professional etiquette at her first networking event while in Washington D.C. After graduating from Brigham Young University Idaho in 2019, she moved to Rocklin, CA to work with Blast Analytics.
She was in contact with Blast Analytics prior to her time as a Media Scholar but she recalls Media Scholars as an amazing experience.
“It sure caused an impression on them that I was a finalist in 2019,” Benites explained.
Ritika Agrawal, a rising senior studying advertising at Iowa State University and currently an intern with NBC Universal, called the Media Scholars program a foundational, first-step of her career.
“Media Scholars week helped me navigate my career goals and aspirations, build a strong network and grow in the field of advertising and media planning,” Agrawal said.
Like McGill, she found perspective in the vast industry of media through the program. She decided to minor in data science and design studies after participating in the Media Scholars case competition.
She relates working with NBC Universal as being a dream of hers. She works with the Insights and Measurement team within the Ad Sales unit and hopes to continue a journey with them after graduation in May, 2021.
Elisabeth Balke, who was partners with Agrawal in the 2019 competition, is a rising senior at Iowa State University, studying advertising and data science. This summer, she is a communications and data intern with National Media and with the Washington Media Scholars Foundation.
“The Media Scholars experience was transformative for me,” she said. “I was empowered to make connections and decisions that narrowed down my career goals in advertising.”
One thing of great value to Balke was the ability to meet people from various companies and learn the personalities of businesses, person to person.
If you are an undergraduate pursuing a degree in a media or policy related field, consider forming a team and entering the 2021 Washington Media Scholars Foundation Media Plan Case Competition. The qualifying round is scheduled to post in September 2020.
By: Elisabeth Balke, 2019 Finalist and Communications Intern
After two days of final presentations, our panel of expert industry judges have named Binghamton University’s Alexander Lai and Erik Zhao from Team Bearcat Consulting the winners of the 2020 Washington Media Scholars case competition. Each member of the winning team receives $5,000 in scholarships to congratulate them on their excellent media plan and presentation. Outstanding job Team Bearcat Consulting!
The final round of presentations on June 10th and 11th, 2020 were originally scheduled to take place in Washington D.C. as a part of the annual Media Scholars week where students connect with media professionals in person, compete in front of a live panel of judges and receive professional development training and coaching. Due to the pandemic, all company sessions and final presentations were given virtually. The unusual circumstances were an extra challenge that all teams overcame, demonstrating excellence and wowing the judges.
During the awards ceremony, held via Facebook Live, the Mia Guion Scholarship of $2,500 was given to Kelsey Gallagher from Temple University. The awardee was selected via a criterion of “4 P’s” that were found demonstrated in the late Ms. Guion’s life: professionalism, participation, preparation and presentation.
We extend our hearty congratulations to all the Media Scholars from this year’s competition and thanks to the extraordinary judges who volunteered their time. We are exceedingly appreciative of the many generous sponsors who invest in our program and our students, as well as of our volunteers who work tirelessly to bring our mission to life. Thank you all, and we look forward to 2021!