Amanda Willingham ’21 earns prestigious national advertising scholarship

The rising senior is one of 20 college students in the nation selected for the Vance and Betty Lee Stickell Student Internship Program presented annually by the American Advertising Federation.

Amanda Willingham ’21, a strategic communications and international & global studies double major, earned one of 20 coveted spots in the 2020 American Advertising Federation’s Vance and Betty Lee Stickell Student Internship Program.

Following a nomination from Lecturer Hal Vincent, Amanda Willingham ’21 was selected for the American Advertising Federation’s prestigious Stickell Internship Program.

Established in 1989 by the Los Angeles Times and the American Advertising Federation, the program aims to raise awareness and understanding of advertising processes and business ethics among future advertising professionals by providing experiences at top firms in the integrated marketing communication industry.

As part of the annual initiative, approximately 20 students nationwide receive internships at media organizations, advertising agencies, and client and supplier companies around the country. Typically, the program offers a salary of $4,800 for the 10-week internship, plus an additional scholarship to over travel, living or housing expenses.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic postponed Willingham’s scheduled summer internship at Horizon Media in New York, one of the largest media agencies in the industry, with clients such as GEICO, Capital One and Burger King.

Despite the internship interruption, Willingham has been productive this summer. She is currently serving as a WPP NextGen Leader, completing the PR Council Agency-Ready certificate program, and participating in the T. Howard Foundation’s Summer Series, including a joint case study competition with Hearst. These programs have kept the former Live Oak Communications account executive busy with two to three webinars and networking opportunities with professionals each day.

Lecturer Hal Vincent, who serves as Live Oak’s faculty director and Willingham’s academic adviser, commended Willingham for both her work on campus and success this summer despite some unexpected hurdles.

“She embodies the drive, passion and aptitudes prefect for this competitive, hands-on opportunity,” said Vincent, who recommended that Willingham apply for the advertising scholarship. “Amanda immediately came to mind for this opportunity. She has always excelled in the classroom and in Live Oak Communications.”

A look at the honorees of the 2020 Vance and Betty Lee Stickell Student Internship Program, with Willingham highlighted on the bottom right.

The program’s official scholarship announcement included a portion of Vincent’s nomination letter, which read: “[Amanda] takes ownership of her studies, diligently plans her course of action, and easily navigates life’s hurdles with flexibility and determination to adjust to meet the demands of the situation.”

“Thank you, Hal Vincent, for this nomination and continual guidance this year, and my professors and mentors for preparing me for this award,” wrote Willingham in a note posted on LinkedIn. “While I am unfortunately unable to take part in the internship component this summer, I am grateful for the many opportunities this program has offered and their commitment in advancing education to future advertising professionals.”

Willingham also noted the support and referral letters from Senior Lecturer Randy Piland and Larry Mellinger, director of campus recreation and wellness at Elon. She is heavily involved in the campus rec program at Elon, having served as its team leader of communications since fall 2017.

This accolade is one of many earned by Willingham during the past academic year. At the recommendation of Communications Dean Rochelle Ford, Willingham applied for and was selected to the final talent pool for the T. Howard Foundation summer internship program. The foundation’s mission is to promote diversity in media and entertainment by increasing the number of diverse and underrepresented groups and underserved communities within the industry.

“There are so many opportunities for driven strategic communications students to seek internships, scholarships, awards, networking pathways and training that supplement classroom learning to equip them for a fast and successful career launch, and one the best parts of teaching and mentoring is to steer students like Amanda to opportunities that they embrace and then watch them thrive,” Vincent said.

This is the second time an Elon student has been selected for the Vance and Betty Lee Stickell Student Internship Program, with MacKenzie Clarken ’18 earning a scholarship in 2017.