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When Passion and Career Collide

Growing up, I have always enjoyed writing. In the fifth grade, we were given an assignment for “kite day” where we had to write a short story about our kite. Naturally, my kite went wherever the wind blew it and the kite traveled the world – Italy, Hawaii and places I can’t remember.

As I stood up and finished reading my story in front of the class, I received the loudest applause. In that moment, I knew writing was something that would stick with me forever. And although I am my biggest critic and my own worst enemy, I enjoy it.

Writing has led me to many opportunities: resurrecting my high school newspaper as editor-in-chief, journalism school, freelance gigs, a career in public relations and more.

While studying at the Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT, I joined a sorority that opened my eyes to the world of vision impairment and blindness. In college, I volunteered numerous hours for our philanthropy and ensured I plugged it in nearly every conversation I had.

Today, I volunteer each week for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. You may have read a couple of blog articles I’ve written about my experience or maybe even scrolled past my many tweets about technology affecting vision loss. In a true journalistic fashion, I read and ask questions related to blindness/vision impairment.

But a theme in my questions has surfaced.

Day-to-day, I work on strategies for clients in a wide-range of industries.

  • What’s the story?
  • What should people know about client XYZ?
  • How do we relay the story?

I try to keep up with the trends: how people are getting their news, how people make decisions for their business, etc. The one topic that always comes up in the advertising/PR industry is diversity.

The focus has shifted in companies everywhere on how to hire more minorities, get more women into c-suites, ensure each group is represented in commercials and billboards — all very good, thoughtful things for the world. The one area I wish I had more answers was marketing to the blind/visually impaired.

Vision affects everyone. Blindness is not racist, it’s not elitist. It doesn’t care about where you are from, what religion you practice, or who you choose to love. But it affects everything.

Think of a commercial that’s currently running. Is it the sad ASPCA commercial? What makes it sad? Well, the song is indeed depressing, but what else? Perhaps it’s the shivering, beat up dog looking at the camera with its big ‘ole puppy eyes (kills me every time).

Now close your eyes and listen. Does it still have the same effect or does it just make you want to tell Sarah Mclachlan to sing a different song?

This is where my mind goes. This is my sign.

After being exposed to volunteering and working in the industry, I am now on a mission to learn how we can better market to the blind/visually impaired community. Marketing/Ad/PR can be so fun and it is so influential, but there is much work that needs to be done as far as inclusivity.

I’ve recently accepted my offer to start my master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) at Emerson College this spring. It’s only step one of my mission, but definitely a leap for me and my career. I hope to do research on inclusivity – particularly with the blind/visually impaired and I’d like to invite you to join the ride. I’ve been lucky to gain the support of my agency and colleagues, because if I am successful and armed with the knowledge and experience, it will set us apart from other agencies.

It’s happening.

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