Marketing Student Selected for Prestigious Advertising Program
As one of the American Advertising Federation’s Most Promising Multicultural Students of 2023, RWU senior S. Isaiah Braithwaite spent a week visiting major ad agencies and meeting industry leaders.
NEW YORK – For a week in February, senior S. Isaiah Braithwaite met with and learned from top advertising professionals as part of a prestigious national event for multicultural students held in New York City.
Braithwaite, a Marketing major and Cultural Studies minor from West Glover, Vt., was one of 50 college seniors selected from across the U.S. to participate in the American Advertising Federation’s Most Promising Multicultural Students program – one of the advertising industry’s premier diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
For four days, Braithwaite and his peers met recruiters from top media companies and advertising agencies, visited major ad agencies, and attended professional development and personal branding workshops led by industry leaders. They also networked with leading executives and multicultural industry pioneers from companies including Sony Music, TikTok, and SiriusXM.
“This is a big thing for students like me, navigating the transition after college. A lot of multicultural students don’t have access to the industries that they want to get into. Being in rooms that are more diverse than we’re usually in, that’s something they fostered, and we appreciated,” Braithwaite said. “The fact that I was given four days to completely immerse myself and have access that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise – I’m very grateful.”
Since 1997, the Most Promising Multicultural Students program has connected advertising professionals with the nation’s top multicultural college seniors. Students of racial or ethnic diversity from the AAF’s 140+ college chapters are eligible to apply. This year’s judging panel included representatives from Ally Financial, Nissan Motor Corporation, Captura Group, Cummings Creative Group, Hearts & Science, Lake-Sumter State College, Promedica, Publicis Health, RPA, and The Trade Desk.
“It’s an incredible opportunity,” said Geraldo Matos, associate professor of Marketing and faculty advisor for RWU’s chapter of AAF, who encouraged Braithwaite to apply. “Some of the biggest and best ad agencies in the world are there. It’s rare that our students get this opportunity to have their work exposed and meet with them. (Braithwaite) was the perfect candidate for the program, not only because of how strong a Marketing student he is, but because of his strong interest in DEI issues.”
As he prepares to graduate in May and enter the workforce, Braithwaite, who also served on the executive board for RWU’s Barbershop Club, said he has accepted a Brand Strategy Residency for global advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, known for its work with Nike, in New York. He used his time in New York to learn as much as he could.
“I’m relatively new to advertising, and I wanted to learn from people working in the industry. There were a lot of really exciting panelists. I was walking up to recruiters and asking about what paths people can take,” said Braithwaite. “I gained a lot of knowledge, which probably wouldn’t have happened without this experience.”
While he networked with industry leaders, Braithwaite also forged connections with his peers. “I got to meet 49 students who had similar experiences to me in the same industry as me. I made some really strong friendships, which will hopefully continue throughout our careers.”
While the event was great for Braithwaite and the networking opportunities he made will be “invaluable throughout his career,” Matos said his participation also shows the skill level of RWU students. “We have a strong Marketing department at Roger despite us not being at the level of more top tier universities. (Braithwaite) is a clear indication of the quality of our program.”
As a Marketing student, Braithwaite spent time trying to find a path and discovered his interest in advertising after Matos invited him to join RWU’s National Student Advertising Competition team. Sponsored by AAF, the annual NSAC challenges students to solve a real-world case study from a corporate sponsor and present a fully integrated advertising campaign and budget.
“NSAC was the first time I felt at home in an academic setting,” said Braithwaite, who joined last year’s team as a junior and is a leader on this year’s team. “I was floating through Marketing and didn’t know what lane I wanted to be in. Professor Matos showed me that advertising was a lane, and I really liked it. I’m trying to get into that field post-graduation.”
Matos, who only invites a few juniors to join NSAC, felt from Braithwaite’s work that he would be a great fit. “This year he’s taken on a real leadership role. The class looks to him,” he said. “He’s a leader. He’s a voice of reason and a voice of calm. He’s been so successful.”