Kent State Grad Student to Make His San Diego Comic Convention Debut

Artwork Sample Shows Comic Book Characters

This spring, Adobe collaborated with Marvel to make the first-ever, student-illustrated Avengers comic powered by Creative Cloud. The limited-edition origin story comic will officially debut in July at the San Diego Comic-Con, where the students will get one-on-one portfolio interviews with Marvel pros.

“I went after this opportunity because I’ve always loved Marvel comics, and I use Adobe products every day,” Lewis said. “The chance to make a comic with these two companies is a dream come true.”

Students from around the world submitted their portfolios through Behance, a free, online Adobe platform that showcases creative work — garnering responses from 67 countries.

Chad HeadshotChad Lewis, a graduate student in the School of Visual Communication Design at Kent State University, is busy hammering out his version of Thor’s origin story for an upcoming Marvel ‪‎Avengers comic.

In addition to Lewis, three other students will work with Marvel to illustrate the new comic using Adobe Creative Cloud and its new mobile apps, like Adobe Brush CCAlexandria Huntington, of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco; Hayden Sherman, from the Rhode Island School of Design; and Emil Friis Ernst, from the Animation Workshop in Denmark, were officially selected for the opportunity.

“I learned about winning while I was grading student work for one of the classes I teach in the Kent State University School of Visual Communication Design,” Lewis said. “When I heard, I called my wife and my family. Then, I hugged my dog.”

Lewis says being able to work on a comic with Adobe and Marvel is a big deal because they lead the industry in their respective fields and are helping to explore the creative process.

“From Marvel, I’m getting the chance to work with writers and editors who I’ve grown up reading and enjoying,” he said. “From Adobe, I’m getting to work with technical experts who are masters at Adobe’s Creative Cloud and mobile applications.”

And Lewis hasn’t forgotten how he has learned this craft.

“As I create my comic, I’ll be depending on the foundations I’ve learned from the brilliant professors in Kent State’s VCD program,” Lewis said. “The materials I submitted for this contest are ones I’ve created throughout my graduate experience at Kent State, in classes like Character Design and Editorial Illustration. I just hope my involvement in a contest like this helps to spread the word about this amazing program.”

Adobe and Marvel will release sneak peeks of the comic leading up to its debut in July via social media. Follow Adobe Students at and

Student Reflects on Study Abroad Experience In Dublin and London

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Was it a dream? Three weeks ago, I was in Dublin. Two weeks ago, I was in London. Just one week ago, I was in Barcelona. It certainly felt like a dream.

I’ve always wanted to study abroad. To be in another country and observe its culture is something I’ve been interested in for a long time. I finally got my chance through the Global Advertising and Public Relations course offered by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication this Spring. During the semester, I studied advertising and public relations in the United States and compared it to that in Dublin and London. After the semester, we packed up and traveled to those brilliant cities.

Every team had a focus and my team’s topic was Millennial marketing. Our blog,, featured Millennial-focused campaigns, Millennial traits, and overall guidelines for marketing to Millennials. I loved it. Millennials are such an important audience to reach and master reaching because we interact with advertising differently than previous generations. My team interviewed Millennial marketers stateside and overseas to compare the different strategies and tactics and learned so much about our generation.

In the spirit of taking full advantage of every opportunity, a group of friends and I decided to extend our two-week European experience another week and visit Barcelona. Best. Decision. Ever. The now three-week adventure opened my eyes to differences in European culture and differences in advertising here and there. The lessons I’ve learned stateside and overseas will follow me throughout my advertising career and my future adventures.

Week One

Dublin was never a must-see for me, but the city showed me why I was wrong. The cobblestone streets, friendly people and live music have changed my views. We walked almost everywhere and saw so much. Now, if I’m really being candid, living in a hostel was not ideal, and the weather was colder than I’d expected, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Being in Dublin was an incredible experience, and I can’t wait to go back.

Week Two

Being in London was a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to visit and experience the famous London lifestyle. It definitely lived up to my expectations: a fast-paced, fashion-hub, tourist-filled city that reminded me of The Big Apple. We meet with some great agencies, and it really opened my eyes to the many work opportunities I hope to take advantage of one day.

Week Three

Oh, sweet Barcelona. After so much traveling, I was ready to relax. Barcelona’s picture-perfect beauty took me by surprise. It took about an hour to get to the heart of the city, but once we reached it and looked up at La Sagrada Familia, a wave a relaxation and relief came over me. The week was spent walking around the city, visiting El Museu Picasso and relaxing on the beach. I even visited my uncle in Madrid for a day.

In Dublin and London, we visited some really incredible agencies and made some great connections. Barcelona was the perfect city to relax and watch the sunset on the beach. I became closer with some of my classmates and those friendships will carry on. My time in Europe was a dream come true, and I can’t wait for the next adventure.

Freshman PR Major Elected President of College Democrats

Hana BarkowitzSchool of Journalism and Mass Communication freshman Hana Barkowitz worked on her first political campaign when she was 16 years old. As a high school student in Pittsburgh, she decided she wanted to help President Obama get reelected in 2012.

Barkowitz was the second-youngest member of the Obama For America team in Pennsylvania, and she served as an organizing fellow. She went through special training and organized phone banks, canvassing events and voter registrations.

“I loved the lifestyle, I loved the people and working for a good cause,” Barkowitz said. “I was 16; I couldn’t vote. This was the only thing I could do to get this guy elected.”

Then, the summer before her senior year of high school, Barkowitz moved to Brooklyn to work on Bill de Blasio’s New York City mayoral campaign. Barkowitz said she’d like to move to New York one day, and as a “true progressive reformer,” de Blasio was supporting many causes she felt passionate about.

Barkowitz enjoyed campaigning directly with de Blasio throughout her time in New York while doing the same kind of phone bank and canvass work she did during the Obama campaign.

“I was all ready very interested in politics, and that experience just verified that’s what I wanted to do. It’s hard, it’s long days. It’s a young person’s game, that’s what they call it.”

Because of this experience, she was able to meet Bill Clinton and Cynthia Nixon, among other “VIPs.”

“Bill’s just as charismatic as you’d expect him to be,” Barkowitz said. “I was just so star struck. He remembered my name from the first time I saw him to the last time I saw him. He remembered I was from Pittsburgh, too, so it was pretty cool.”

Now, three years later as a freshman public relations major, Barkowitz has been elected the 2015-2016 president of the Kent State College Democrats after only being involved in the organization for one semester.

Barkowitz was on the radar of the College Dems before she stepped foot on campus as a student. Previous president Schad Dalton reached out to Barkowitz on Facebook to encourage her to get involved, even in an executive board position, right away.

It was the State of the Union address meeting in January that really drew her into the organization, though.

“It was incredible watching this guy I worked to get elected go on TV and see him talk,” Barkowitz said. “Being around people who supported him too was a really cool feeling. I was like, ‘Wow, this is awesome.’”

Within one month of getting involved in College Dems, Barkowitz was promoted to a membership director position, and later on in the semester, she was promoted again to acting president.

“It’s kind of surreal right now,” Barkowitz said. “It’s crazy, and after everything that’s happened this year, I feel ready to meet next year head-on. Being a PR major has definitely helped me through this.”

Barkowitz said her training in public relations classes, as well as the support of JMC faculty members like former CIA Senior Intelligence Service Executive and current PR Assistant Professor Stephanie Smith, has prepared her to take College Democrats to the next level at Kent State next year, especially going into a campaign year.

“Good PR is really going to help us let people know about our image and know who we are,” Barkowitz said. “I think everyone should be interested in politics at our age. It’s so important, and people don’t realize that. This is our future just as much as anyone else’s, so it shouldn’t just be the older generations caring about politics.”

Lessons Learned at the 2015 YouToo Social Media Conference

by Breyanna Tripp

Let me just start off and say that Gini Dietrich, keynote speaker, was amazing. She opened up her presentation talking about Hannah Mark W. Smith at YouTooMontana – I mean, Miley Cyrus – and I was instantly drawn in. Dietrich offered advice on how to get your clients to understand the process of public relations and that it takes time. Her presentation was centered on the idea of how “spin sucks,” which is based off her blog and book. The points she made about creating a campaign excited me because my PR classes have hammered the idea of strategic thinking in my head.

I also enjoyed Mark W. Smith’s presentation. Even though his presentation was about how The Washington Post uses its social media, I was still able to apply some of his ideas to my personal social media accounts. I loved his point about how you should deliver on promises instead of trying to trick people. People want to be able to see something of themselves in whatever you are delivering. I also attended his student-only session, and he was so humble. He thoroughly answered all of our questions, and it was great to be able to pick his brain.

I cannot wait to apply their advice to my future career as a PR professional. YouToo was so uplifting and inspiring.

CCI Students Elected to Student Government

Undergraduate Student Government elected two students from the College of Communication and Information to serve on the 2015-2016 board. Keri Richmond and Reginald Jones will serve as a director and a senator for USG.

Richmond, a sophomore public relations major, was elected as Director of Student Advancement. Her goal is to create an alumni-student mentoring program. She hopes this program will make it possible for students to interact with professionals before entering the professional world.

Richmond said the most prominent issue facing students at Kent State is retention. She believes the answer to the problem is student involvement. She said part of her focus is helping freshmen find something they are passionate about, whether it’s an organization or a cause, to help find connections within the university community.

She told Kent Stater reporters that her definition of leadership is not about titles or power.

“It’s about people – not what you have to say,” Richmond said. “That’s my leadership style.

Reginald Jones, a junior communication studies major, is the newly appointed senator for CCI.

His goal is to increase awareness within each of the schools in CCI about the opportunities and experiences their fellow CCI schools offer. He also wants to raise awareness about the new student ambassador program inside CCI.

His previous leadership experience taught him that it is important to meet with regular students as well as student leaders to gain input before making big decisions.

Jones told the Kent Stater that he thinks the most prominent issue facing students is that they don’t feel like a part of Kent State. He thinks students need to be encouraged to become more involved.

“That’s why as a member of USG, I will push certain programs and organizations to encourage students to get more involved on campus,” Jones said.

Kent State to Host Award-Winning YouToo Social Media Conference for Area Professionals, Students

Communications professionals will discuss the role of social media in public relations and marketing at the eighth annual YouToo Social Media Conference Friday, April 10, at Kent State University’s Franklin Hall.

The conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a networking reception to follow at the Kent State Hotel and Conference Center. Professionals in public relations, communication and marketing, along with students studying these disciplines, are encouraged to register, but anyone can attend. Conference registration ends April 6 or sooner if seats are sold out. The event is a fundraiser for the YouToo Social Media Scholarship.

The opening speaker is Mark W. Smith, the editor for mobile web at the Washington Post. Smith is an expert in social and digital media in journalism. He worked at USA TODAY as the senior manager for social media marketing and at the Detroit Free Press as the assistant editor for digital media. While in Detroit, Smith built the newspaper’s social platforms and wrote technology columns that appeared in most U.S. newspapers.

Smith says that “by studying user behavior — and what motivates people to share, comment and like — we can learn how to craft a social message that is designed to be shared.” He will talk about what the rise in mobile web use means for those who create social experiences and how communicators can create a social experience that is built to be shared.

Gini Dietrich, the founder and CEO of integrated marketing communications firm Arment Dietrich, will be the keynote speaker at the conference. Dietrich is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, lead blogger at Spin Sucks and founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

She will address topics like how to communicate honestly, responsibly, openly and authentically with all client stakeholders; working with customers who control your brand; and understanding how the digital world affects public relations.

“We live in a world where content farms, Internet spiders and fake accounts have the potential to ruin one’s experience online,” Dietrich says. “But, just like the Justice League, we prefer to fight evil with good. And that’s exactly what my book, Spin Sucks, teaches you.”

Professional conference attendees will receive a complimentary copy of Dietrich’s book, Spin Sucks: Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age with paid admission. Dietrich will sign books immediately following her discussion.

Students will also have the opportunity to connect with public relations professionals during the student breakout sessions and at the post-conference happy hour event at the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center. Students need to register by Wednesday, April 1, and arrive before 8:30 a.m. on the day of the conference to connect with their mentor.

The conference is hosted by the Akron Area Chapter of Public Relations Society of America and the Kent State University Chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America.

Sponsors of the conference include Kent State University’s College of Communication and Information, Robert J. Events and Catering, Star Printing, Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, AKHIA, True Digital Communications, Evolve, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Triad/Next Level, FedEx Custom Critical, Regional Marketing Alliance, ADM Board, McKay Bricker Framing/Black Squirrel Gallery and Gifts, Akron Children’s Hospital, The Buzz Maker! LLC, InfoCision, Marcus Thomas LLC and Kent State University’s School of Communication Studies.

Conference proceeds support the YouToo Scholarship Fund, the Kent State University PRSSA Chapter and the Akron Area PRSA Chapter.

For more information about registration, conference pricing and updates, visit Find YouToo on Facebook,Twitter or via email at  

2015 McGruder Lecture and Awards Luncheon Takes Place April 1

Notable casting director tapped for Media Distinguished Leadership Award

Kate O'BrianKate O’Brian, president of Al Jazeera America, has been named the 2015 winner of the Robert G. McGruder Distinguished Guest Lecture and Award for Diversity by Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The award recognizes the accomplishments of media professionals who encourage diversity in the field of journalism.

Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication will honor O’Brian at an awards luncheon and lecture on Wednesday, April 1. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 2:15 p.m. at the Kent Student Center Kiva. O’Brian will be the keynote speaker at the lecture. Following her lecture, she will be presented with the Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity

Lillian Pyles, one of the most familiar and respected names in the Cleveland casting industry with film credits such as Spider Man III, Antwone Fisher and The Soloist, will be recognized at the annual McGruder luncheon as the 2015 Diversity in Media Distinguished Leadership Award winner. The luncheon is by invitation only, and will include comments by Pyles. Special awards will be given to student media representatives who have reported on diversity issues in the past year.

The luncheon and lecture are co-sponsored by Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Todd Diacon, Ph.D., Kent State’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost; Alfreda

Lillian Pyles, a familiar and respected name in the Cleveland casting industry, will be recognized as the 2015 Diversity in Media Distinguished Leadership Award winner.
Lillian Pyles, a familiar and respected
name in the Cleveland casting industry,
will be recognized as the 2015 Diversity
in Media Distinguished Leadership Award

Brown, Ed.D., vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion; AnnMarie LeBlanc, interim dean of the College of Communication and Information; and Thor Wasbotten, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will speak at the luncheon. Special guest Annette McGruder will be recognized for her continued support of diversity initiatives and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

About Robert McGruder

The late Robert G. McGruder was a 1963 graduate of Kent State and a foundational local figure for diversity in journalism.

He went on from Kent State to become the first black editor of the Daily Kent Stater and first black reporter at The Plain Dealer. McGruder marked several other firsts in his career, becoming the first black president of the Associated Press Managing Editors group and the first black editor of the Detroit Free Press, in 1995 and 1996.

McGruder was a strong proponent for diversity in and out of the newsroom: “Please know that I stand for diversity,” he said once. “I represent the African-Americans, Latinos, Arab-Americans, Asians, Native Americans, gays and lesbians, women and all others we must see represented in our business offices, newsrooms and newspapers.”

For more information about the Robert G. McGruder Award or event, contact Eugene Shelton, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, at

To RSVP for the luncheon by March 24 contact Darlene Contrucci at 330-672-2623.

For more information about Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, visit

Answering student questions for the College of Communication and Information at Kent State


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