news-category: Academics

Gardner-Webb Department of Communication, Art and Design Hosts First Professional Takeover Day

Guests for the Department of Communication, Art and Design Professional Takeover Day included, from left, Noel Manning, GWU associate vice president for Communications and Marketing, Alexis Mitchell, senior social media and community manager for Families Against Mandatory Minimum, and Reginald Walker Jr., a producer for Sports Business Journal in Charlotte, N.C. Photo by Shira Edwards / GWU Photo Staff
Guests for the Department of Communication, Art and Design Professional Takeover Day included, from left, Noel Manning, GWU associate vice president for Communications and Marketing, Alexis Mitchell, senior social media and community manager for Families Against Mandatory Minimum, and Reginald Walker Jr., a producer for Sports Business Journal in Charlotte, N.C. Photo by Shira Edwards / GWU Photo Staff

Communications Professionals from Several Fields Share Insider Advice with Students 

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Professional communicators took over classes in Gardner-Webb University’s Department of Communication, Art and Design (CAD) on March 22 for the first Professional Takeover Day. The guests represented print and broadcast journalism, social media and public relations. During the day, they participated in panel discussions that focused on the theme: “Cultivate, Connect, and Create Your Career Game Plan.” Students also had an opportunity to meet one-on-one with Dedrick Russell, a recruiter from Gray Television.

“The CAD Professional Takeover Day is an excellent example of bringing together our professionals internally within Gardner-Webb University and externally in our community,” observed Dr. Kortni Alston, department chair and associate professor of journalism and communication. “This event helped students gain confidence in pursuing careers in the communications industry related to journalism, public relations, graphic design, and photography.”

Kara Fohner, left, a reporter at the Gaston Gazette, and Micah Martin, director of the GWU Center for Personal and Professional Development, were also guests for the CAD Professional Takeover Day. Photos by Shira Edwards / GWU Photo Staff
Students had opportunities throughout the
day to speak with the guests one-on-one.

Russell appreciated the number of students who signed up to speak with him one-on-one. “That shows their aggressiveness, their eagerness to find employment and to make a connection to fill that social capital,” he said. “They are creative. They think big, they want to conquer the world and they are getting that (mindset) here at Gardner-Webb.”   

Students Eriana Meadows and Alexa Key, who serve as co-anchors and co-editors of the GWU student digital news team and online student publication, appreciated the opportunity to network and learn from the professionals. Key added, “I think the Q&A portion of the panel was most beneficial as students were able to ask direct questions to the panelists.”

The guests share behind the scenes insights on researching, writing and broadcasting news stories. They talked about developing sources and ethical considerations. Several times during the day, Alexis Mitchell, senior social media and community manager for Families Against Mandatory Minimum, emphasized the importance of joining professional organizations. She shared examples of how her membership in these groups has helped her gather information or contact sources for stories.

Reginald Walker Jr., a producer for Sports Business Journal in Charlotte, was impressed by the depth of the students’ questions and their positive attitudes. “The kids have been engaged and prepared,” he said. “They are defining what it means to understand the assignment and the opportunity that today brings.”   

CAD Professional Takeover Day Guests

  • Ken Lemon, Gaston Bureau reporter for WSOC-TV and a three-time Emmy-Winning journalist with an Edward R. Murrow Award in Photography from Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). Lemon is the Vice-President of Broadcast for the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). He is a graduate of UNC-Wilmington.
  • Kara Fohner, a reporter at the Gaston Gazette and newspaper journalist since 2015. She has won 10 awards from the North Carolina Press Association. Her work has most often focused on the criminal justice system.
  • Reginald Walker Jr., a two-time Emmy-winning producer, who has worked for ESPN, covering the Super Bowl, multiple BCS National Championships, and a Rose Bowl. Walker is a producer for Sports Business Journal in Charlotte, a radio analyst for Gardner-Webb football, and TV analyst for Charlotte 49ers.
  • Noel Manning, associate vice president for Communications and Marketing at Gardner-Webb, who has more than three decades of experience working in journalism, media relations, and marketing. He is an award-winning filmmaker and magazine editor.  He was inducted into the Gallery of Distinguished Alumni at Gardner-Webb University.
  • Alexis Mitchell, a two-time Emmy-winning journalist, who is the senior social media and community manager for Families Against Mandatory Minimum. Before transitioning to the digital world, she worked as a News Content Specialist for WBTV News This Morning, WBTV News This Morning on BounceTV, WBTV News at Noon, and the lifestyle show “Morning Break” for 12 years.
  • Jackie Bridges, assistant director of University Communications at Gardner-Webb, who has 30 years of experience as a reporter and editor at The Star, a newspaper in Shelby. She won three N.C. Press Association awards and was honored twice as The Star’s Journalist of the Year.
  • Micah Martin, the director of the Center for Personal and Professional Development at Gardner-Webb University. He has over 20 years of experience developing professionals through career and life design, innovative programming, and experimental learning.
  • Dedrick Russell, an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of experience, who has worked in television newsrooms in Beaufort, S.C., Washington, D.C., and Charlotte, N.C. Russell works as a talent acquisition specialist for Gray Television, the company that owns WBTV and more than 100 television stations in the United States.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.

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