Many students enrolled in the American Univeristy School of Communication (AU SOC) Strategic Communication MA programs are already succeeding in their fields as working professionals – and some have built their own business from the ground up. From running public relations firms to building foundations for advocacy and fundraising, meet three prolific students who are their own bosses.
Chinua Joi Ivey, Ivey Media Agency
Chinua Joi Ivey is the founder of Ivey Media Agency, where she is a consultant to small businesses and nonprofits. Her focus is “social solutions through storytelling” – using stories to promote corporate social responsibility, positive causes, and encourage advocacy. Ivey is also the author of two books on the topic of intimate partner violence, an issue Ivey is passionate about. To that end, she is a trained volunteer with the Partnership Against Domestic Violence, where she answers phones at the National Domestic Violence Hotline and speaks at events on this issue.
Ivey says she feels like “a pencil getting sharpened” in the SOC Strategic Communication Master’s program. “While the strategy behind the message is the same - whether internal, public relations, or even a crisis - the way we deliver these messages and the timing has changed,” she said. “As a mid-career professional, this program has helped me to think more strategically and it has filled the gap in areas where my writing wasn't strong.”
Jamie Tiralla, All Ag Media
Jamie Tiralla’s decision to start a marketing firm which focused on agricultural businesses was a perfect fit. She and her husband run one Monnett Farms, in Prince Frederick, Maryland, where they raise pasture-fed livestock. She was also a writer for two agricultural publications and involved with the Calvert County and Maryland Farm Bureaus. So Tiralla created All Ag Media, whose services include graphic design, writing, marketing and more, all focused on horticultural businesses, and offers free marketing resources and education.
Jamie says what she is learning in SOC is “helping [her] solidify practical things” she’s learned as an entrepreneur. The networking element of the program has also helped her “pick up new ideas for showcasing a wider scope of work” that she does.
James Baumann, The Stories of Conflict Foundation
James Baumann’s interest in the long-standing civil war in Colombia goes back to his time living in the country after finishing his undergraduate education. There, he saw the effect of the conflict on the country’s citizens. Many faced internal displacement alongside their existing rural poverty. Baumann wanted to do something about it – so he started The Stories of Conflict Foundation. Its mission is to raise awareness of the plight of internally displaced Colombians and provide funds to help them improve their lives. The foundation works with two local organizations to coordinate where to send funds, and directly with affected citizens. Most recently, a documentary produced by Baumann on the subject, titled “Stories of Conflict,” won the Best Editor award at the Global Impact Film Festival.
SOC profiled Baumann and the work of his foundation last year. He cites Strategic Communication master’s program’s connection to advocacy and international relations as the reason he chose this pathway. Building his strengths in communications is helping him advocate for his foundation and grow the dialogue about the conflict in Colombia.