SOJ Insider | Graduation December 2007

December Convocation

By Andy Smith

“Use your voice. Speak up and speak out. You have been in an environment that has relished that thinking – that has freed those stories. Your story is unfolding. Take a step when you need to. Open your arms. Enjoy.”

That was the message of encouragement delivered by Pamela Larrick, keynote speaker, at the School’s December Convocation, on Dec. 8, 2007, at the WVU Health Sciences Center.

Larrick (BSJ, 1972) currently is a strategic consultant with the Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG), one of the big-four global advertising agencies comprised of hundreds of communications agencies in more than 100 countries.

In her speech, the Clarksburg, W.Va., native and member of the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni urged the graduates to embrace the changing world of communications and encouraged them to step out into the world, take chances and enjoy their lives.

Larrick said barriers are being torn down, giving graduates a chance to “blaze new trails.”

“You are all about to join a revolution, a revolution about, for and of the people – the people, who will be your viewers, your readers, your client’s customers,” said Larrick. “These people have, through the power of technology, taken their role, their involvement in what you will do to another level.”

She added that companies are now merging business with social responsibility. “Corporations who have usually had a foundation where they did ‘good’ and the company where they did ‘business’ are now understanding the power of aligning the two and doing ‘good business,’” said Larrick.

Since receiving her bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism in 1972, Larrick has gone on to achieve great success.

Larrick is known as a leader and an innovator in the areas of digital, interactive and customer relations marketing. In her more than 30 years of professional experience, Larrick’s clients have included Microsoft, General Motors, Kraft and Hampton Inn.

Prior to joining IPG, Larrick was Chief Digital, Direct and CRM Officer at the newly formed DraftFCB, where she led the company’s efforts in strategic consulting, online services and branded content. Before that, Larrick was chairman and CEO of Fcbi Worldwide, overseeing operations in 40 offices in 28 countries.

In 1997, Larrick was named one of 25 women leaders of the advertising industry by Ad Age magazine. And in 2002, Larrick was named one of Ad Age Global’s Global Power 100 – a list of the most “innovative, daring, and dynamic leaders in marketing, advertising, and media.” In addition, Larrick received the Andi Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award for Innovation in and Service to the Direct Marketing Creative Community by the John Caples International Awards organization.

“As I’ve gone through my career, I have made it a point to be in situations where I could learn from others or from other situations,” said Larrick. “For example, I’ve raised my hand often to take on different assignments. Assignments that presented me with a challenge and a learning opportunity.”

Larrick told students to be patient and work hard, adding that “your journey in life will be many steps, take one step at a time and do your best at whatever you do.”

Top graduating senior Sarah Braswell, a public relations major, also spoke at the December Convocation, offering this advice to her fellow graduates. “As we leave WVU, I hope that we will all go forward with excitement and with the knowledge that we are ready to take on whatever the world throws at us,” she said.

“We came into this school as talented and intelligent individuals who were ready to learn. Today, we leave as talented, intelligent and well-educated adults.”

In her speech, Braswell touched on not only the importance of support from her family and friends but also the support from the SOJ faculty.

Braswell said Visiting Shott Chair of Journalism Toni Locy, who has worked for The Associated Press, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post and USA TODAY, is just one example of the outstanding faculty at the School of Journalism.

“Although I am not a news-editorial major, I was excited and inspired by her stories about life as a reporter,” said Braswell. “It is always encouraging to see someone who loves what she does.”


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