Advertising Grad Wins a National Silver ADDY

Posted on: June 20, 2017

Recent advertising graduate Savannah Benavides ’17 reeled in a National Silver ADDY after hooking the judges with her witty 3-ad campaign for Ugly Stik, a company specializing in fishing tackle. The campaign had previously won a Gold ADDY at the local level and a Silver ADDY at districts, propelling her work to the national stage.

“I was really surprised, but mostly I was excited,” said Benavides. “It felt awesome to receive recognition for some of my work, but I was even more excited to work harder in order to create more for my portfolio. Winning awards is really nice, but it’s so important to learn as much as you can in the process.”

Benavides 1

Fishing for Ideas

Benavides’ winning campaign was produced as an assignment for an introductory copywriting class she took her junior year under the direction of Lou Schiavone. For this particular assignment, students were to create advertisements for a brand of their choice. Benavides decided on Ugly Stik because of the challenge it would present her, and went to work on a list of ideas.

“My creative process is, in a word, exhaustive,” said Benavides. “I do my best to get out all of my ideas on paper as quickly as I can. My best ideas come when I’m rapid-firing them onto a piece of paper or into a blank document.”

Benavides 2

Benavides decided to poke fun at the fisherman stereotype and produce a humorous campaign that would resonate with the target consumer audience. As the idea was further developed into three advertisements, Benavides gained constructive feedback whenever possible.

“Each step of the way, I had amazing peers and mentors giving me feedback, including criticism,” said Benavides. “It’s been so helpful to receive the insight and opinion of others, because it helps build me into a better creative.”

Enjoying the Ride

Benavides admits that she wishes she would have known the importance of finding fun in her work earlier on. In fact, her best work came when she stopped stressing and started producing because she wanted to.

Benavides 3

“Of course, getting an education at Michigan State is something to be taken seriously, but it was so important for me to find the time and energy to fall in love with my work and the creative process,” said Benavides. “I really think the most vital part of the creative process is to be in love with it and to enjoy every minute of it.”

Benavides advises other students to pursue their passions and take pleasure in the process.

“Find a way to feel comfortable having fun and enjoying the field that you chose to pursue,” said Benavides. “But if you don’t enjoy the field that you’re in, change it. Life is short.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets

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Advertising Grads Win a National Gold ADDY

Posted on: June 15, 2017

“When work needs doing, leave it to the ladies. And keep a cold one waiting.”Flyer

These are the words, accompanied with expertly designed graphics, that earned Lauren Cutler ‘16 and Matt Richter ‘16 a National Gold ADDY. During an intensive advertising portfolio workshop, the then-students were given a creative brief to invent a micro-brewing company that is by women, for women: Lumberjane Brewing Co. was born.

“Our strategy in this campaign was to address the archaic “just for men” culture surrounding beer, so we created a microbrewery brand specifically for middle-class, hard-working women,” said Cutler, a junior art director at Güd Marketing in Lansing. “We created a campaign that is caught between delicate and rugged, for a semi-feminine beer with a punch of attitude.”

Brewing Success

The campaign has been wildly successful. Lumberjane is the winner of a Gold ADDY for Integrated Campaigns, a Gold ADDY for Packaging and a Judge’s Choice Award at the 2017 Mid-Michigan ADDY Awards Show. Following its success at the regional level, Lumberjane has gone on to win a District 6 Silver ADDY, as well as the National Gold ADDY, which Cutler accepted at the awards show in New Orleans on June 10.

3 Bottles“I have a few other ADDYs, but this one being a national award definitely takes the cake,” said Richter, who is currently interning at 360i in New York City. “ADDYs are great resume builders, and they definitely substantiate your work.”

While Cutler served as Lumberjane’s art director, Richter was the copywriter - though the distinction between their roles was often blurred. Cutler accredits much of the project’s success to the collaborative effort between Richter and herself.

“Concept development is the most important part, and both Matt and I spent a lot of time making sure the goals of the campaign completely lined up with the way we would execute it,” said Cutler. “I think that’s why it’s been so successful.”

The Summer Intensive Workshop

Lumberjane was created entirely in the realm of ADV 455, the Intensive Portfolio Workshop that is only offered during the summer semester. Cutler admits that the workshop is not for the faint-of-heart, as it is held Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m.‒5 p.m.Bottle Logo

“The Intensive Portfolio Workshop is an absolute must for creative advertising students,” said Richter. “It’s the closest you will ever get to working in an agency while still in school. Deadlines are strict, it involves a lot of late nights and you will regularly get scolded, but at the end of it all, you will have some really great work to show off to recruiters.”

While Cutler advises other students to “Have fun, work hard and believe in what you do,” Richter wants advertising students to take advantage of everything the program has to offer.

“Do everything. Take the summer Intensive Portfolio Workshop,” said Richter. “It’s not just a great portfolio builder, it gives you a taste of what work will be like after school. It also leads to the creation of great relationships with people like Henry Brimmer, Ross Chowles and Lou Schiavone. These aren’t normal professors. These are people who will bend over backwards to get you a job, because they believe in you.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets

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M.A. Grad Having an Award-Filled Year

Posted on: June 13, 2017

Scott Eason ’00, who graduated from ComArtSci with a master’s in visual journalism, is having quite the year: a Society of Professional Journalists national award, a Gracie, a Headliner and three Emmy nominations for his work with the consumer investigative journalism team at KPIX 5 CBS.  

“When you find yourself standing Scott Easonon a stage in front of a few hundred of your peers who are applauding your effort and your work, it’s a little life-changing,” said Eason. “More accurately, it’s perspective-changing. It’s restorative. It’s re-inspiring. It helps you find a reinvigoration of purpose.”

Team Player

Aside from his freelance videography business, Eason has been working as the videographer for the ConsumerWatch Team for KPIX-TV in San Francisco, California with reporter Julie Watts and producer Whitney Gould.

“It takes some time and trust from everyone to build a team, but when you do, everyone on that team brings what they do best to the table,” said Eason. “That’s how you create stories that are full of great sound bites, great scripting and great pictures and sound.”

It’s clear that Eason has found himself a dream team. Two of their biggest stories have led to legislative change in California after being featured nationally on CBS This Morning, The Talk and in CBS affiliate news broadcasts. These investigations have been widely recognized for their positive impact on safety issues.

Toxic Safety

While child car seats are crucial for safety, and required by law in all 50 states, the investigative team found that they may also be causing inadvertent harm. Car seat manufacturers have been adding chemical flame retardants to their car seats in order to satisfy federal flammability regulations. However, these regulations were created 45 years ago to address fires in car interiors caused by matches and cigarettes, which are no longer mainstream.

The investigation began as a blog post on Watt’s website,, and became a much larger story in the process. Their investigation gained national attention after revealing how false advertising, legal loopholes and outdated federal regulations may expose millions of children to concerning and well-known-cancer-causing chemicals.

The team’s coverage on the topic of child car seat safety led to the introduction of new legislation revising the standards. It also won them the SPJ Sigma Delta Chi Award for public service in television journalism, as well as a Gracie in local investigative feature.

Toddler with a Credit Card

The team also focused an investigation on the difficulty of protecting a child’s credit. According to their findings, “Research shows that kids could be 50 times more likely to have their identities stolen than adults, in part, because the kids’ pristine credit records provide a blank slate for thieves and often go unchecked for more than 18 years.” While most people would assume this could easily be fixed by a simple credit freeze, many credit bureaus refuse to let parents freeze their children's credit.

Eason mans the camera for Watt's daughter Cecelia.

Eason mans the camera for Watt's daughter Cecelia.


California Assemblyman Mike Gatto cited their coverage of the topic to introduce a new child credit freeze legislation. This new law will give parents the right to freeze their child’s credit. It unanimously passed the state senate and assembly and is now in effect.

The investigation, and subsequent step-by-step guide to freeze a child’s credit, won the team a Headliner for broadcast or cable television stations business and consumer reporting.

Life in the Spotlight

After working on such influential stories, it was only a matter of time before Eason and the rest of the team were recognized for their work. Though each of the awards were significant, Eason admits to having a favorite.

“The SPJ award is what I’m most proud of,” said Eason. “We did some of the most outstanding journalism in the country and our stories had such a great impact on so many people that the Society of Professional Journalists have chosen us as representing the best of what journalism can be.”

Though Eason’s work was also nominated for three Emmys, he walked out of the Northwest Regional Emmy Awards without a trophy on June 3. However, he was pulled up on stage by Watts upon her win. She thanked him for all of his hard work in front of the crowd.

“She got a little teary, which got me really choked up,” said Eason. “Sometimes it’s not the trophy that makes you feel special. It’s the recognition by your peers, in front of your peers, that makes you feel valued and important. It makes you feel like you’ve chosen the right direction in life.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets

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From Sports Agent to Business Mogul: ComArtSci Alumna Takes Leadership to a New Level

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When Molly Fletcher began her journey as a Spartan communication student in ’89, she wasn’t sure of what she wanted to do. After years of working with some of the biggest names in the sports industry, she’s finally found her calling.Molly Fletcher1

Fletcher spent 20 years as one of the world’s only female sports agents at CSE, a sports and entertainment agency, where she became president of client representation. She was hailed as the ‘female Jerry Maguire’ by CNN as she recruited and represented hundreds of sport’s biggest names, including Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz, PGA Tour golfer Matt Kuchar, broadcaster Erin Andrews and basketball championship coaches Tom Izzo and Doc Rivers. Though she loved her job, she knew she wanted something more.

“I realized that the connection between sports and business was one in which could help a lot of business people,” said Fletcher. “I really enjoyed teaching and sharing stories and experiences, whether it was in a keynote speech or workshops or online, and I realized the uniqueness of [my] platform.”

New Directions

Enter, the Molly Fletcher Company. In 2010, Fletcher founded her own company in hopes of tying together sports and business through keynote speeches, workshops and online courses.

“As I got older, I became more clear on my purpose and wanting to align my purpose with my work,” said Fletcher. “I said to myself, is it all about another athlete or another contract? Or can I do more, give more, share more? To me, it was about an opportunity to change and impact lives in a positive way. I was certainly doing that as an agent, but I felt like I could do it at a bigger level and at a greater scale as a speaker, author and CEO.”

Fletcher just published her fourth book, Fearless at Work, and has been recognized with the Outstanding Alumni award. She notes that ComArtSci was especially helpful in figuring out her future.

Reflecting on ComArtSci

“Being a ComArtSci major was incredibly instrumental in my ability to learn how to build relationships,” said Fletcher. “With my business as a sports agent, and now as a speaker, building relationships and understanding how to connect, not just communicate, with people is key.”

Fletcher also points to ComArtSci professor Sandi Smith as being influential during her time at MSU.

“I had a wonderful relationship with Sandi and she spent a lot of extra time with me to help me along the way,” said Fletcher. “The truth is, I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do. I felt like this gave me an opportunity to hone in on what I knew I loved, which was truly human connection. To me, that’s so much of what ComArtSci is.”

New Beginnings

So where did it all begin? After graduation, Fletcher moved to Atlanta to try to find a job in the sports base. She also played tennis at Michigan State, so she was determined to find a way to bring all of her passions together. Her first job was with the Super Bowl host committee, a position that Fletcher admits was certainly not her dream job, but a starting point for what her future would hold.

“It was not a fancy job,” said Fletcher. “It was a six-month gig, but it allowed me to figure out what I liked and what I didn’t like. It allowed me to connect with people who were involved in the Super Bowl in Atlanta, which was really powerful because I met all of these incredible executives that were with large fortune 500 companies. The job wasn’t something that I would want to do forever, but it was a chance to meet great people who I could connect to, who would then hopefully hire me or help me.”

Lasting Advice

In terms of advice, Fletcher acknowledges the fact that you might not know what you want to do. She knows that it’s a process, and it’s okay if you don’t have it figured out right off the bat.

“It’s about putting yourself in an environment where you can build great relationships and gain advice in a strategic way from people who you want to learn from,” said Fletcher. “One of my favorite lines is ‘when you ask for advice, you get a job, and when you ask for a job, you get advice.’ I spent a lot of time asking people for advice and I think the byproduct of that over time was a job.”

Fletcher’s success is awe-inspiring, and she’s certain that her fellow Spartans are more than capable of making their dreams come true.

“Be fearless. You have to stay curious, be anchored in your purpose and lean into what will be often times uncomfortable moments, so that you can really pursue what you love,” said Fletcher. “Recognize that failure is actually a chance to learn and to move forward. When you’re fearless, you’re going to fail, so stay resilient, but go for it. You work a lot in your life. Whatever it is that you choose to do, it’s a lot of time. So it’s imperative that you love it. My biggest piece of advice is to be and stay fearless.”

You heard it here first Spartans: be fearless, be curious, be resilient and you’re sure to find success.

By Katie Kochanny

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Field Experience Trip Leads ComArtSci Students to Prestigious Internships

Posted on: May 31, 2017

When five newly graduated ComArtSci advertising alums headed to New York for a field experience trip, they didn’t expect for it to lead each of them to an esteemed internship. For Claire Meads, Savannah Benavides, Ryan Lowe, Jacques Chouinard and Matt Richter, this trip was just a glimpse into the success their futures would hold.


From May 7-13, the group traveled alongside ComArtSci Advertising and Public Relations professor Henry Brimmer, who has traveled to New York the past seven years. The students who attend these field experience trips are selected among ComArtSci’s best. It’s in NYC that they attended the One Club Creative Week.

There are various reasons for the trip, but first and foremost are the portfolio review sessions with creative directors and talent recruiters from the top agencies,” said Brimmer. “During these sessions, each one of our students has an opportunity to show their portfolio to 12 to 18 folks who might offer them an internship, a job or give them valuable feedback.”

In addition to portfolio reviews, Brimmer also notes that they visited agencies such as Red Peak, Pereira & O’Dell, HAVAS, Droga5 and Ogilvy. Claire Meads, who now interns at GTB, encourages current MSU students to go on a field experience trip.

The trip allowed me to learn more about the industry and how the hiring process works,” said Meads. “It allowed me to learn what fit would be best for me in the sense of agency environment and location, and helped me strive for the best position I could reach.”

Savannah Benavides, who, along with Ryan Lowe, received an internship at Geometry Global, stresses the importance of networking when it comes to standing out in the professional world. She credits the field experience trip for providing the means to talk to those currently working in her profession.

During the trip, I was able to learn a lot about interacting with potential employers and recruiters, and gained a lot of practice mingling and networking in a professional setting,” said Benavides. “Because of this practice and experience, I was able to properly network and interact with the recruiter that reached out to me in regards to my portfolio.

For Jacques Chouinard, who now has an internship at Doner, the feedback each student received on their portfolio was incredibly helpful in applying for internships.

“The most important thing any young creative can do is to show their portfolio to as many reputable people in our industry early on,” said Chouinard. “This is invaluable as it provides you with feedback that you can use to improve your portfolio.”


Chouinard also acknowledged the ComArtSci career fair when seeking out his current job.

“I secured my internship by attending the ComArtSci Connect career fair in the spring. I spoke with a recruiter during the fair and he passed my resume off to the writers at his agency that then reviewed my online portfolio,” said Chouinard. “I can't stress enough the importance of developing a strong portfolio early on as it, along with your perseverance, is how you will secure an internship.”

Reid Masimore, who went on the NYC study away trip in 2014, also points to his portfolio as a key aspect in receiving an internship. Reid currently works at Ogilvy & Mather in NYC as a copywriter.

I don't think my portfolio would be what it was had it not been for my portfolio preparation classes and the guidance of Henry Brimmer and Larry Steinberg,” said Masimore. “Preparing my portfolio, doing my research on New York ad agencies and practicing for portfolio reviews significantly helped me get the most out of my trip.”

According to Matt Richter, who landed an internship at 360i in New York, it’s the people at ComArtSci that make all the difference. Richter notes that Henry Brimmer, Ross Chowles, Paula Storrer, Lou Schiavone, Karl Gude and Jef Richards positively impacted his experience at MSU.

“I have been more places, met more people and created more things in the last year than I ever have before, and I owe it all to the people of the MSU advertising program,” said Richter.

His advice? Don’t waste any time.

“Do everything. I know that sounds cliche, but seriously, work your butt off,” said Richter. “Meet your professors, do the summer intensive portfolio workshop, do Minds Wide Open, go to Shanghai and go to New York. And when you're doing all these things and going all these places don't waste a second, because there is a very good chance you may never be back there.”

If there’s two things that these alumni suggest, it’s to work on your portfolio and network to the best of your ability. A strong portfolio can make or break an interview, and ComArtSci has plenty of resources to help you get organized. Also, don’t forget about the college’s vast alumni base, with over 48,000 ComArtSci alumni who are more than willing to help current students find opportunities after graduation.

“Meeting with alumni was also very helpful because they understand where you are coming from,” said Richter. “They understand the program at MSU, and have great insights on how to get where you want to go.”

One thing is for sure: ComArtSci has the trips, tools and resources students need to find success post-commencement.

By Katie Kochanny


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Journalism Graduate Lands Position at Men’s Health

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Haley Kluge graduated this past May with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in graphic design in hopes of breaking into the magazine industry. Well, her goal just turned into a reality.Kluge Image

Kluge will be working at Men’s Health magazine as a designer on the print publication. Despite receiving such a reputable position, this wasn’t her original plan.

“I had actually already secured a New York internship for the summer before I saw the Men’s Health post listed,” said Kluge. “I had every intention to go out to New York for the summer and then try and interview and find jobs while I was out there, but when I saw the posting online, I figured it couldn’t hurt.”

Landing the dream job was equal parts Kluge’s persistence and the magazine’s compatibility.

“I applied through the corporate HR website, and then when I didn’t hear anything a few weeks later, I emailed the creative director directly just to introduce myself. From there, he asked to meet me and I flew out for an interview that next week,” said Kluge. “I fell in love with their brand and the interview seemed so easy and conversational that I knew that if they offered it to me, I would flip my plans upside down to accommodate accepting it. Turns out, they did.”

Preparation for this position started long before Kluge walked across the stage and collected her diploma. Most recently, she was a graphic designer for both Michigan State Football and Michigan State Athletics, the art director at VIM Magazine, the presentation editor at Dialogue Newspaper as well as the president of Society for News Design. She was also heavily involved in Greek life: Vice President of Recruitment Guides for the MSU Panhellenic Council, Kappa Kappa Gamma’s marshal and a member of Order of Omega. Additionally, she was the design editor for the Red Cedar Log, a graphic designer for Communications and Brand Strategy and worked at the State News. As if that wasn’t enough, Kluge spent two summers in NYC interning with Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping.

Time Management Pro

“I’ve always said “better busy than bored,” and that sort of carries me through everyday life,” said Kluge. “I just naturally can’t sit still, and I think that allows me to thrive under pressure or work harder when I’m on deadlines. It’s just the best environment for me. But even with that, I just try and stay organized and caffeinated. I use my planner religiously and [drink] more Diet Cokes than I’d like to admit.”

While Kluge might not recommend her caffeine habits to others, she does have some advice for ComArtSci students looking for success.

“I think the biggest thing you can ever do is just to try new things,” said Kluge. “Push yourself out of your comfort zone and find job postings you never think you’ll get and apply anyway. On campus, join every club that interests you that you can handle, and throw yourself into them.”

Kluge spent two summers in her dream internships in New York, all because she was brave enough to press the send button.

“Never be worried about rejection,” said Kluge. “It’s just a part of the process and you’ll never know if you don’t try.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets 

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MSU Alum Betters His Craft in Directing and Film

Posted on: May 1, 2017

When Jacob Kornbluth was an Interpersonal Communications major at the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, he had an interest in relationships and uncovering the reasons why people lie. His curiosity in people and all of their complexities mixed with an impulse to learn about concepts he didn’t understand, ultimately resulted in ideas worthy of portraying in film. Ideas that kickstarted his career.  


Jacob Kornbluth

“I work as a director full time, though I spread my work over short-form and long-form (projects),” explained Kornbluth. “I co-founded a nonprofit with Robert Reich, Inequality Media, that makes short (2-3 minute) videos to explain complex economic issues in a way everyone can understand. In 2016, the videos had 100 million views. As it goes for 2017, the audience has continued to grow and videos have already reached over 70 million views.”

Jacob hopes to make 25 to 50 videos this year. He just released LOVE & TAXES, a feature-length comedy that he directed. Later this year, he plans to release a feature documentary called Saving Capitalism, a Netflix Original Film.

Past success led to future lessons
Kornbluth’s previous work includes a documentary he made after the financial crash of 2008 called Inequality for All. This piece won a special Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, was released by The Weinstein Company and did the best at the box office for any issue documentary since Waiting for Superman. Kornbluth says that to this day, his favorite part of the process was truly understanding the bigger issue by the end of it.

“When I made Inequality for All ... my friends and I were sitting around trying to figure out what happened,” said Kornbluth. “I was watching the news after the crash in a way I hadn’t before. I was trying to make sense of it all, and it felt like the more I learned about what happened, the less I understood it. I didn’t have a financial background, so I went into a period of deep and focused study for a year to figure it out. Now, I refer to this period as my own ‘grad school’.”  

Currently residing in Berkeley, California, Kornbluth is in production on Saving Capitalism, a follow-up to Inequality for All. In collaboration with Robert Reich, it is another piece that tells a compelling story while making sense of tumultuous economic times. Since the 2016 election result, the premise of the story changed from a transition in liberalism and conservatism to the importance of economic power as a whole.

Making his mark
After his time at ComArtSci, Kornbluth has bounced around all over the globe making moves in the industry. Following graduation, he immediately moved to San Francisco looking for a fresh start. He then immersed himself into the theatre culture by directing three comedies, which led him to working on film crews. Eventually, Kornbluth found his way to Los Angeles to immerse himself in the film business.  There, he directed his first comedy film, called Haiku Tunnel, that went to Sundance and was distributed by Song Pictures Classics.

Unknown-1Later, he moved to New York City and created a narrative drama called The Best Thief in the World starring Mary-Louise Parker and other New York Theater actors. Kornbluth’s admiration for theatre led to working as a screenplay writer. He then encountered the itch to get back into directing, this time in documentaries.

“All of (my) work on stories has informed my work as a documentary director,” said Kornbluth. “I believe, first and foremost, a movie needs to be entertaining and fun to watch.  When I bring that approach to ‘big issues,’ the results have been interesting to audiences. My hope is to continue that work going forward.”

Green roots
Kornbluth draws a direct line from where he is today back to his personal experiences as a Spartan. His passion still springs from his own curiosity, which has motivated him while striving toward personal and professional long-term goals.

“My work in film today tends to focus on the big issues, things like economic inequality and climate change, in a way that is personal and approachable,” said Kornbluth. “It’s a genuine privilege to tell stories that help others make sense of the big questions we all share.  I feel like I’m just now getting better at visual storytelling, and hope to spend a lifetime improving on my craft.”

By Emmy Virkus

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AD+PR Alumna Finds Success as Producer and Development Executive

Posted on: April 11, 2017

As a freelance director, producer and development executive for unscripted television and digital series, Melanie Reardon ’99 looked out to the crowd of film students in front of her and offered sage advice on the world she works in every day. She shared knowledge gained from her experiences developing and working on shows like National Enquirer Investigates, Broke-Ass Bride and Chopped and for brands like VOGUE, Vanity Fair, Glamour and most recently, People.

Reardon just wrapped the first season of American Doers for, with Happy Marshall Productions. She is the co-creator and executive producer of the series, and came to ComArtSci to speak with students about the business of producing, including the process of developing and pitching ideas, working with production companies and networks and the importance of people skills in her line of work.

Among the many tips and tricks Reardon shared with the students on her visit, the one item she stressed the most was the art of the coffee run. Because just like the others who came before her and those following in her footsteps, Reardon started out as a production assistant.

“Getting coffee is step one because it gets you into the meetings with the executives. It builds trust. Get the coffee and lunch orders right and then people start trusting you with more,” said Reardon.

Reardon explained that menial tasks like grabbing coffee or lunch for executives shows you can follow directions, you listen and take initiative. “Once you prove to me that you can do that, you’re going to be taking field notes, you're going to be sitting in development meetings, you're going to be producing. And that’s how it starts. You gotta take the coffee order,” she said.

Reflecting back on MSU
As an undergraduate student in the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Reardon studied advertising. She wanted to make commercials, and would take any classes that would give her the skills needed to make that dream a reality. With the help of her academic adviser, Dr. Larry Red, Reardon was able to build a curriculum that prepared her for a future in production.

“He knew I was a unique student and I had a unique set of experiences, skills and interests when I came to MSU. He really dug in and made sure I was taking the right classes, I had the right tutors. I was able to pull from different parts of the ComArtSci umbrella,” recalled Reardon.

She took advertising, journalism, production and law classes that prepared her for the real world. In the beginning of her career, Reardon started as an intern working for National Parks Magazine in Washington D.C., an experience that helped her realize the power of “putting yourself out there.”


Melanie Reardon

Building a career
After a few years working in events, media relations and production, Reardon spent three seasons on the Food Network favorite, Chopped where she picked up industry knowledge from the strong women she worked with every day.

“A lot of the people I’ve worked with over the years have been very inspiring and influential to me. Certainly, Co-Executive Producer, Vivian Sorenson on Chopped and, Executive Producer, Linda Lee who created the series… Those women are fierce and incredible,” said Reardon.

After Chopped, she landed at Condé Nast working with some of the most iconic brands in the world, meeting, collaborating and spending time with magazine editors and producers.

Reardon told us, “There is a certain tingle that you get when you walk into the Condé Nast building and you go to a meeting at VOGUE or Vanity Fair and it’s a pinch-me moment. It’s like wait, how did I get here? I’m just a girl from Mason.”

Working with and Advil
In her latest project, American Doers, Reardon partnered with James Marshall of Happy Marshall Productions to tell real, honest, uplifting stories of people in America. As host of the show, Marshall completely immerses himself in the lives of the people he meets, working in their businesses and walking in their shoes.

“For me as a producer, the most rewarding work is telling the kinds of stories that matter to me and I had a fantastic opportunity to do that with James,” said Reardon. “We believed so much in this project, we knew somewhere, somehow there was somebody that was going to resonate with this message and care about it as much as we did. That happened for us when we met with People and Advil to pitch the series.”

The first season of American Doers is available on As for other projects coming up? Reardon said she always has something cooking, but there is nothing she can share quite yet.

By Nikki W. O'Meara

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ComArtSci Remembers Leo V. Deal

Posted on: March 22, 2017

Beloved professor, Leo V. Deal, Ph.D., passed away on March 11, 2017. Leo was a pioneer in the Communicative Sciences and Disorders (CSD) program at Michigan State University and a Chairman of Audiology and Speech Sciences (ASC) for 12 years. He was a Distinguished Alumni of the department, an ASHA fellow, a Professor Emeritus and a charter member and co-founder of Sparrow Hospital’s Mid-Michigan Oral Cleft and Maxillofacial Consultation Clinic, "Cleft Palate Clinic."

Leo Deal

Leo’s greatest gift to CSD may have been his creation of the study abroad program, Communicative Disorders in the British Isles, which began in 1984 during his last year as Chairman of ASC. It remains the oldest and longest consecutively running overseas study program in Communicative Sciences and Disorders in the United States.

For those who knew him, Leo will be remembered as a steadfast student advocate. He knew every student by name, and never forgot them - even over the past year, he would ask about students that he remembered.

His students and colleagues will always view Leo as a gentleman and a scholar, with unwavering integrity, compassion and a commitment to education as a bridge to human understanding.

Leo leaves behind Nola (nee Arndt), his devoted wife of 64 years; son Eric (Sherrie); daughter Nancy (John Beaver); grandsons Taylor and Mason (Whitney); granddaughter Emma; as well as loving nieces and nephews.

A private burial took place on Wednesday, March 15. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made to the Leo V. Deal International Enrichment Fund, Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, at Michigan State University.

Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at

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Spencer gets drafted for his dream job early in the game

Posted on: February 21, 2017

Jamal SpencerSometimes in order to pursue your dream, there comes a sacrifice. In recent journalism grad Jamal Spencer’s case, this meant making the decision to leave Michigan State University early, back in 2009, to pursue his aspiration of becoming a sports reporter through a once in a lifetime offer.

People ask him, “Was it worth it?” Following his dream meant giving up undergraduate experiences and prolonging the process of earning a bachelor’s degree.

“It was incredibly difficult,” said Spencer. “Only one man in my family had graduated from college and that was my father. So, attending MSU was a blessing and receiving my diploma was the goal, but as my academic career progressed I realized the importance of job experience and networking.”

As a Detroit native, Spencer jumpstarted his career by working as a sideline reporter and production assistant for Fox Sports Detroit. After this, in spring 2011, he was able to finish a couple more credits toward his degree before taking off for his next job in Fargo, North Dakota where he later became Sports Director. Years after, he reached a point where he wished to move closer to home. Fortunately for him, the perfect opportunity arrived. Spencer packed his bags and moved back to his home state as the newest Sports Director at WZZM 13 in Grand Rapids.

“I was granted a few career opportunities that I felt I couldn't pass up and I promised my parents I'd return to get my degree, which I did in the fall of 2016,” said Spencer. “My parents joke that it was like getting drafted into pro sports after your junior year.”

How it all started

Spencer said that his entire athletic background consisted of a strong passion for baseball. However, once he realized that he wasn’t going to grow up to be a major leaguer, he decided to drop his bat and pick up a career that still involved talking about them.

“My mother and I would visit my grandma often and she always watched the 6 p.m. news,” said Spencer. “Sitting there quietly, I figured that if she’s giving these news anchors this much respect then this might be a career path worth following. I’m glad I did.”

As the Sports Director of WZZM 13, Spencer is responsible for production, film and editing content daily for the local sportscast. He is also the anchor for the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. sportscasts Monday through Friday. In addition, he takes the time to search for local stories that will appeal to the same target audience and engage them on a personal level through social platforms.

“I try to do as much as possible everyday.” said Spencer. “I went back to MSU in 2016 and took two classes in East Lansing during the summer, then finished with another class in the fall, all while working my full-time job as Sports Director in Grand Rapids.”

Forever a Spartan

Being a Spartan is more than just wearing green and white. Students and alumni take a pledge to remain passionate, devoted and have grit while earning their degree and using it to succeed in their fields. For Spencer, his undergraduate years at MSU were, without a doubt, the best years of his life thus far.

“It was amazing,” said Spencer. "The campus was changing and I made lifelong friends, many in the ComArtSci building. I lived in the Sparty’s on the first floor. My favorite JRN class was Ethics of Journalism taught by Manuel Chavez, who is a tremendous professor and made our class feel like a family for a semester.”

Spencer continued to discuss his highlights in ComArtSci. “The most helpful resource was without a doubt my professors. Geri Zeldes, Folu Ogundimu, Manuel Chavez, Bonnie Bucqueroux all cared about my well-being as well as my academic success. They stressed the importance of focus and L.A. Dickerson stressed the importance of internships, and both of mine led to jobs that got me to where I am today. The ComArtSci staff was by far the most helpful resource in helping me reach my goals.”

For more information about resources at ComArtSci that will assist you, click here.

By Emmy Virkus

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