Posted February 22, 2018
Public relations senior Vanessa Ruiz and advertising senior Pedro Bernardino were recognized as two of the 50 Most Promising Multicultural Students in the nation by the American Advertising Federation at a ceremony in New York February 12-15.
Designed to promote diversity and inclusion within the advertising and marketing-related industries, Ruiz and Bernardino bring the total number of winners from USC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications to 30 since the award’s inception in 1997.
Professor Bonnie Drewniany, head of the advertising sequence, nominated Bernardino for the honor and says she’s been impressed with his work ethic. In addition to working an average of 30 hours per week while going to college full time, Drewniany says Bernardino has done well in his classes, many of which have involved taking on challenging projects.
“If I may borrow a tagline from another campaign to describe him, Pedro is a lot like Avis,” Drewniany jokes. “He tries harder.”
Public relations instructor Ernie Grigg recommended Ruiz, in part because of her leadership skills and creativity.
“I love having her around because she has a knack for pushing everyone around her to be better — whether intentionally or not,” Grigg says. “Her approach to the final project in one of my classes was so innovative, that I completely overhauled the assignment for future classes in hopes of finding similar quality of work.”
As award recipients, the students’ trip included networking with New York advertising professionals, touring agencies and holding companies, participating in panel discussions, mentoring sessions, industry immersions and attending a national job fair.
Both winners say the four days in New York City were motivating as well as educational.
“The experience really inspired me to go out and create my own path as well as reinforced the importance of hustle in this industry,” Bernardino says.
“Each student had a different tagline that represented his or her personal brand,” Ruiz says. “My tagline was ‘The littlest moments can tell the biggest stories.’ There were many small moments where I found myself overcome with emotion — extreme gratitude. These are the moments that I feel I learned the most from.”
The AAF is the oldest advertising trade association. The students were selected through a vetted application process that included essays, letters of recommendation, resumé and specific academic requirements.