Making Their Marks

By Diana DeLuca ’23, March 24, 2023
Students earn American Advertising Federation honors.

The American Advertising Federation (AAF) began its Most Promising Multicultural Student program in 1997 to connect the nation’s top multicultural college students with industry professionals.

Each year, the AAF selects 50 seniors from a nationwide pool of applicants. This year, integrated marketing communications (IMC) students Li de Jong and Steven Howard Jr. were accepted into the program. They became the 41st and 42nd Ithaca College students to receive the honor since 2004.

For four days, February 13–16, Howard and de Jong were in New York City to attend luncheons and all-day expos, and to meet with other students from around the country.

Both students credited Scott Hamula, professor and chair of the Department of Strategic Communication, with encouraging them to apply. “I remember hearing about the program from Scott my sophomore year, and I wrote it down,” Howard said. “When my senior year came, I remembered, brought it up to him, and he recommended that I apply.” 

Li de Jong and Steven Howard Jr

de Jong and Howard were the 41st and 42nd Ithaca College students to receive the honor since 2004.

The NYC events featured a recruiter expo, an awards luncheon, and an industry immersion program that provided invaluable networking and learning experiences. “It was so cool,” said de Jong. “Recruiters from big agencies met with us, and it was a great opportunity to network and get my name out. It was also great to speak with people of color from diverse backgrounds. They let us know how valued we are and how they’re in our corner.”

Howard also expressed his appreciation for the program allowing them to connect with others  and make new friends: “It was inspiring just to be around like-minded individuals and being in that space,” he said. “Once it started, I realized I wanted it to be longer. Even though we were only there for four days, the connections were great. I even started a group chat with the people I met.”

Both students also praised their experience as students in the Roy H. Park School of Communications for preparing them for this event. “I want to thank the strat comm department, especially the faculty,” de Jong said. “This opportunity, as well as others, has allowed me pursue art direction as a career. But I wouldn’t have become interested in that field without [assistant professor of strategic communication] Mark Addona’s Advertising Copywriting and Art Direction course.”

Hamula said the duo were the latest in the long line of IMC students who continuously impress him each year with their selection to this program. He also attended it and had high praise for the event: “This year's MPMS program was one of the very best, thanks in large part to the high quality of the student finalists in attendance.”