From left to right: Joseph Pagni, Jenny Cowell, Kenneth Villarreal, Melanie Horne, Melissa Duong, and Chasity Adams.

Cowell first told me she was recruiting students to attend the AWNY Conference just after a school meeting in September. She was so animated, explaining how the last conference really opened her students’ eyes to the world of marketing outside of the classroom. “You know, they get there and they’re all dressed up in proper, conservative business attire, and then they see all of these creative types walking around in clothes that are really different or they really stand out in some – something you would never see here in the South – and it opens their eyes. They get to see the competition in person, and it either scares them or inspires them to really grow.” Cowell went on to explain how those students were able to see the latest marketing campaign for Calvin Klein’s Euphoria perfume before it was even released to the public and to explore new marketing technologies they had never heard of. Anyone listening would have been a believer that this was a pivotal experience — almost a necessity — for marketing majors.


CBU students with author Jeffrey Hayzlett.

Marketing major Melissa Duong works for the School of Business and could not wait to tell me all about her experiences at the AWNY Conference. She brought back an autographed copy of Hayzlett’s Running the Gauntlet and excitedly told me of her experience with the author, stating that he was not only perfectly poised but, in the fashion of a true storyteller, had captivated his audience with several of the outrageous and funny tales from his career, and went on to share some of the ones she found most memorable.


Melissa Duong at KSL Media.

In speaking with other conference attendees, I found that they echoed the same sentiments on the importance of making a personal connection with the consumer, an idea that receives much more emphasis now than it did at its roots, before the economy was quite so global and social media- saturated by savvy consumers. Marketing applies to so many aspects of business and life, and Melanie Horne expressed this well when asked what made a psychology major decide to attend an event geared toward up and coming marketing professionals.  “I had never taken a marketing class before this conference, so I was naturally not as confident in my knowledge for this field of work.  However, during the agency tours and throughout the conference, psychology is more inter-related with marketing than one might assume.  Take consumer behaviors, or branding for example… essentially these marketing and branding agencies want to ‘tap into’ the empathetic, compassionate consumer in order to better promote their idea of their product. These agencies need to study how people react, think, and behave. This is where psychology emerges.”

And, while the lessons learned at the 2012 AWNY Conference crossed academic lines, bleeding over into the realm of personal response to products, there was a definite professionalism and edge to the proceedings.  In discussing her experience Chasity Adams said, “The most valuable thing I took away from the conference was the exposure to the different aspects of marketing. The workshops were very informative and helpful. Because many of the people who were presenting the topics were CEOs themselves, it was very insightful to understand exactly what they are looking for in an employee.” The students attended lectures, took tours, completed accounting and resume workshops and more. Even though the weekend was a whirlwind educational experience for the group, as Kenneth Villarreal put it, “This trip was definitely mixing business with pleasure! I had a great time with the group I went with.” The students were able to spend some free time exploring the city and even went out to eat at Serendipity 3, the restaurant made famous by the movie Serendipity.

To see pictures from the trip to New York City, find our Advertising Women’s Conference photo album on Facebook at In the meantime, Jenny Cowell is keeping in touch with her professional contacts made during the trip and looking forward to planning one for the next generation of CBU students.