From Inspiration to Impact: AD+PR Students Apply Classwork to Make a Difference in Their Community

By Emily Ryal

When starting a new semester on campus, our goal as students typically focuses on doing well in our classes: participate, complete the required assignments and get a good grade. But for some, inspiration sparked in the classroom leads to real influence both within and beyond the MSU community.

Through the Communication Arts and Science Media Sandbox Street Teams, students from multiple disciplines join to create media projects for local nonprofit organizations. According to CAS, students reached almost 1,800 volunteer hours with greater-Lansing nonprofits in the 2018-19 school year.

Maia Barber, an MSU graduate student studying advertising, participated in a Media Sandbox course co-taught by AD+PR instructor, Alexandrea Thrubis Stanley, this past summer that helped propel a local humane society’s community engagement. For Barber, the experience not only lead to great portfolio examples, but the opportunity to learn new skills all while making an impact.

“We were able to give the humane society a fresh look into how they can communicate with the community,” said Barber. “Through this, we helped them become more recognizable as a resource of education to the local animals and their families. We all wanted to bring our talents to the humane society and put together the best communications plan possible.”

Another example of transitioning from project to impact is the “Go Teal” movement. With their Speak Up series and teal ribbon posters, MSU advertising students have created a lasting impact of support and advocacy for sexual assault survivors. It all started with an initial video of a flower wilting and then reversing to show the blooming process. Tianyi Xie, Larraine Fu and Yi Rong created the video for an Idea-a-Thon put on by AD+PR Professor of Practice Ross Chowles. The goal of the video is to depict what survivors experience in the process of finding their voice. Wanting to do more, Xie, Fu and Rong asked students Amanda McCafferty and Carlie Wirebaugh to join their cause, and the Go Teal movement was born.

Speak Up Campaign Photo

Photo taken from Go Teal Facebook page

McCafferty, who was also an advertising student, said that the Go Teal creators noticed their efforts turn into a true social movement once they fully incorporated a social media presence.

“We had survivors and allies alike reaching out to us on social media telling us how much they appreciated the movement and asking how to get involved,” said McCafferty. “It was then that we realized we could and should continue with this movement — we realized we could actually have an impact.”

If you are inspired, MSU has an outlet to help make your vision reality. Whether it is an Idea-a-Thon put on by a professor, a course like the Media Sandbox or just sitting in a required class, remember that what you do as a student can and does make an impact.