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2019 CCI Outstanding Graduates: What's Next?

Outstanding Grads FeatureEvery graduate has that next step ahead, whether walking across the stage means a journey toward further education or the launching point of a career.

As graduation season returns to Rocky Top, here’s a look at the outstanding graduates from each CCI school and major including their future plans and how their majors prepared them for professional careers. 


OUTSTANDING ADVERTISING GRADUATE

Matthew Meyers (Memphis, Tennessee)

What’s next?

“I am waiting to hear back from agencies to get a quality assurance job, but ultimately plan to move to New York.”

How did your program prepare you for your career?

“I think the degree has helped me grow into my role as an account management or strategy person.”


OUTSTANDING COMMUNICATION STUDIES GRADUATES

Emily Caylor (Cleveland, Tennessee)

What’s next?

“I will be attending George Washington University Law School in Washington, D. C., in the fall.”

How did your program prepare you for your career?

“My degree has sharpened my reading and writing skills along with teaching me how to conduct research. These skills will be invaluable in law school and will serve as a foundation for the rest of my legal career.”

Kane Smith (Wolverhampton, United Kingdom)

What’s next?

“I will be attending American University's Washington College of Law to obtain a JD.”

How did your program prepare you for your career?

“Being able to study communication has allowed me to have a better understanding of how we send and receive messages, especially in a culturally diverse world, and has definitely helped me prepare for my future career as an attorney. Similarly, studying political science and Chinese has given me the tools I need to go into international law.”


OUTSTANDING INFORMATION SCIENCES GRADUATE

Karen Held (Knoxville, Tennessee)

What’s next?

“I’m continuing to work for the University of Tennessee and will hopefully find a job that will allow me to utilize my MSIS and MPA degrees to benefit the university.”

How did your program prepare you for your career?

“My service in the Navy and with the United Nations made me aware of a serious lack of information in real world situations. I witnessed events where information that was essential had been misplaced or lost. My degree program has given me the skills to start capturing and preserving information in ways that will hopefully help others in the future. I have already been able to help a few people at my current job with the digitizing of paper documents and the organization of their electronic documents in order to help them find information quickly. 

“What I enjoyed most about this program was my interactions with my professors and fellow distance education students. Keeping in touch with students geographically located in other areas has given me a broader picture of what is happening in information sciences across the United States."


OUTSTANDING JOURNALISM & ELECTRONIC MEDIA GRADUATE

Abby Bower (Knoxville, Tennessee)

What’s next?

“Over the summer I will be completing a full-time internship in the communications office at Oak Ridge National Laboratory where I will focus on science writing. After that, I will pursue permanent employment.”

How did your program prepare you for your career?

“My degree program has prepared me for my career because I have had so many amazing faculty members who have taken a vested interest in my success. Not only did they prepare me for my career through their carefully designed course content and assignments but also by always taking extra time to help me improve my writing -- whether that was environmental writing, feature writing, editing, or writing for documentary film. I also think the School of Journalism and Electronic Media excels in its commitment to helping students get real-world experience through practicum and internship programs. My practicum at WBIR-TV in Knoxville allowed me to have real newsroom experience as early as the summer after my freshman year. At UT, you can also get real-world experience through student media programs. For example, the aspect of the journalism program I enjoyed the most was working on documentary films with Land Grant Films. Land Grant taught me how to approach a project professionally, conduct research, lead interviews and tell a story. Additionally, it gave me the opportunity to have some of the coolest experiences of my life, including interviewing Dolly Parton! Lastly, I was fortunate enough to take advantage of the CCI Global Scholars Program to study abroad for a semester in Sydney, Australia. This opportunity, which combined studying and interning abroad, is one of my favorite memories from my time at UT because it taught me valuable life lessons about adapting to new cultures.”


SAMMIE LYNN PUETT PUBLIC RELATIONS LEADERSHIP AWARD

Cara Hunter (Mount Juliet, Tennessee)

What’s next?

“I plan on graduating in December 2019. This summer I will be interning with Parachute Media, a digital advertising agency, in East Nashville. After graduation I hope to move to Nashville and work at a creative agency to expand my skill set and network. This experience will prepare me for my long term goal of starting my own public relations firm.”

How did your program prepare you for your career?

“The School of Advertising and Public Relations within the College of Communication and Information has challenged and shaped me into the young professional I am today. While I learned many valuable lessons and skills in the classroom, such as graphic design, strategic messaging and advanced writing skills, ADPR also pushed me to become a better professional and human every day. By providing opportunities for internships and career development, I experienced hands on learning in content creation, social media analytics and so much more, which will help me define myself during my job search. Finally, ADPR provided me with a family. At a university as large as UT, it is reassuring to know you have a group of faculty and staff that care about you and want to help you succeed. Finding your place in college can be a difficult journey, but ADPR made it easy to call UT home.”


J. CARROLL BATEMAN AWARD

Hannah Whitson (Kingsport, Tennessee)

What’s next?

“I am hoping to become the public relations coordinator for Regal Entertainment Group.”

How did your program prepare you for your degree?

“My degree has prepared me for my career in many ways. It has developed my understanding of intercultural communications and strategic planning. I feel confident in my abilities and knowledge as I enter the working world. I am most appreciative for the relationship and connections I have gained through CCI’s amazing faculty, staff and students. Serving as an ambassador for the college allowed me to share my love for my college with prospective students and alumni. As I enter this new chapter of my life, I will continue to hold my CCI experience very near and dear to my heart.”