Donelle Leak ’25, Cristy Mariné ’25 named LAGRANT Foundation scholars

School of Communications students have received 13 LAGRANT Foundation scholarships in the last seven years.

As recipients of The LAGRANT Foundation Scholarship, which financially supports undergraduate and graduate ethnic minority students pursuing careers in the fields of advertising, marketing and public relations, Donelle Leak ’25 and Cristy Mariné ’25 were invited in May to New York City. The trip proved memorable for the School of Communications students, attending an awards ceremony and professional development workshops, while also networking with industry professionals and past TLF scholars.

Two female students pose for headshots
Donelle Leak ’25 (left) and Cristy Mariné ’25 were among 60 undergraduate students from across the country to receive 2023 LAGRANT Foundation Scholarships.

For Leak, a strategic communications major and Honors Fellow, the trip was her first visit to the Big Apple, and the experience didn’t disappoint. An aspiring public relations or corporate communications professional, Leak called having dinner with Brent Miller, senior director of global LGBTQ+ equality at Procter & Gamble, “a highlight of the trip.”

“He shared his life story and how he landed at Procter & Gamble, throwing in pieces of advice and stories of celebrity encounters throughout,” Leak said. “Our conversation was very raw and authentic, and his advice will stick with me.”

In celebration of its 25th anniversary, The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) awarded a $250,000 in scholarships to 88 ethnically diverse students, according to a scholarship announcement. Leak and Mariné were among 60 undergraduate students from across the country to receive a scholarship in the amount of $2,500. In the past seven years, School of Communications students have secured 13 such scholarships.

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A strategic communications and cinema and television arts double major, Mariné echoed Leak’s sentiments about her New York City experience, relishing the opportunity to visit the city and connect with communications professionals and past TLF scholarship recipients. Additionally, she said she is thankful that the scholarship will help finance her forthcoming studies in the Elon in Los Angeles program in spring 2024.

Both students participated in internships this summer, with Leak working for RLF Communications in Greensboro and Mariné interning with NBC6/Telemundo51 in South Florida.

A female student stands with a large camera while shooting on sidewalk in South Florida.
Following her internship with NBC6/Telemundo51 in South Florida, Mariné plans to study in the Elon in Los Angeles program in spring 2024.

As part of her summer responsibilities, Leak worked on six client accounts, handling a variety of projects. These tasks included designing social media content, pitching stories to media outlets, working on campaign messaging and event planning, and writing press releases and feature stories.

“My favorite work has been a design project for a client’s August social media,” Leak said. “I was given the independence to build everything from scratch – starting with generating topic ideas and eventually building everything out to finished captions and graphics.”

As a digital intern for the NBCUniversal news outlet, Mariné has written articles and edited videos for the station’s social media accounts.

“It’s been an unforgettable experience and I have learned so much more than what I could’ve imagined,” said Mariné, who has worked with Cinelon Productions and El Centro on campus. “It has helped me learn so much about the news and entertainment industries, which are fields I am definitely interested in.”