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Picture with Dwayne Summar
Students with UT alumnus and former PRSA President Dwayne Summar.

Sixteen UT public relations students traveled to Atlanta last week to network with alumni working in the field and learn about various types of PR opportunities.

While the School of Advertising and Public Relations offers a trip to New York every year to advertising students, this was the first trip tailored specifically to public relations students.

Students were accompanied by Maureen Taylor, director of the school, along with Associate Professor Beth Foster and School Coordinator Lauren Ziegler.

“Exposing our students to ‘real world’ public relations is an important supplement to their classroom experience,” Foster said. “The trip also provides important networking opportunities for students while allowing them to learn best practices for entering the field.”

The students met with alumna Snigdha Dhar, the digital and social media manager at Melt Sports and Entertainment Marketing, and Melt founder and CEO Vince Thompson. Melt, whose clients include Coca-Cola, is a full-service ad agency focusing on sports, entertainment, and culinary clients.

Students McKenzie Fowler, Lauren Hood, Paige Bureau, and Lauren Turner at Sun Trust Park.
Students McKenzie Fowler, Lauren Hood, Paige Bureau, and Lauren Turner at Sun Trust Park.

“Visiting Melt was incredible. The whole staff was so welcoming, and we learned a lot about their company culture and also what they look for when hiring,” said senior Kelsie Swift of California.

Alumna Amy Corn, senior vice president of corporate communications and marketing at Global Payments Inc., facilitated a panel discussion for the students that featured alumnus Ed Patterson, vice president of corporate communications and public affairs at Veritiv; Joanne Herold, chief marketing officer at HoneyBaked Ham; and Rebecca McCuiston, SVP group head for brand marketing at Edelman Public Relations.

Students also met with the PR team from Children’s Hospital of Atlanta and with 2005 UT graduate Ashley Kerns, founder of Kerns Sports Marketing and Management.

“It was really inspiring to meet and hear about Ashley Kerns’s experiences and successes. She truly does what she loves and was able to give great advice to us as aspiring PR professionals,” said Marilyn Dick, a senior from Greensboro, North Carolina.

The group traveled to the new Sun Trust Park to hear from 2010 graduate Victoria Kline, senior coordinator of digital marketing for the Atlanta Braves.

“As a Braves fan, getting to hear from the PR professionals of such an incredible organization was so exciting,” said Lauren Hood, a senior from Chattanooga. “I can see all the work that goes behind creating those memories for everyone who goes to a game at Sun Trust Park.”

To end the trip, students heard from UT alumnus Dwayne Summar, former president of the Public Relations Society of America, who talked about his successful career and stressed the importance of being involved on campus.


Kelsie Swift, (865-974-2225,

Amy Blakely, (865-974-5034,