Making an Impact: Jessica Butler wins alumni award for her contributions to Hollywood


Jessica Butler, MEDC ’04

by Jennifer Starkey

From blogs to television shows, Jessica Butler (Media Communications ’04) is making an impact in Hollywood and using her talents to entertain and educate. She recently received one of five Webster University Alumni Awards. The awards are given to graduates who have made an impact at Webster, their careers and the world. Continue reading

Owner of Socially Jen on Entrepreneurship in the Digital Age

Jen Leyden (Media Communications 2002) is the brain behind Socially Jen, a social media, personal assistance, and virtual assistance agency that helps non-profit organizations and small businesses with their marketing and administrative needs, sans the big-agency price.


Jen Leyden, MEDC 2002

“In this economy when companies are cutting costs, plenty of businesses are outsourcing their work,” she tells us.  “In this digital age, I can do basically everything via phone, fax, email, and Skype.”  Jen can create and manage social media platforms, run errands,  plan events, or just about anything a company might need, as her website says, to “stay competitive, relevant, and keep its voice ‘heard’ among the crowd.”

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Blind Risks – Worry + Work x Love + Fun = A Pretty Good Life



Andy James (Alton), MEDC 2012

You might have known him as Andy Alton.  He studied Film Production and Media Communications.  Minored in Theatre.  Graduated in May of last year.  Today, he is known as Andy James, agented Screen Actor’s Guild-American Federation Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) member, and producer and distributor of a weekly comedic podcast called “Daddio Patio.”  He is also a Whiskey Bootlegger on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. You might have also seen him in the Jason Robert Brown musical, The Last Five Years.  Or you might have seen him in any number of things, as he’s been taking on extra roles and doing stand-in gigs, photo doubling, featured spots, and principal roles.  You will soon see him as a stockbroker in the Martin Scorsese film The Wolf of Wall Street, to be released in November.  As if that’s not enough, in his free time, Andy says he’s been dabbling in stand-up comedy and improv.  How does he do it all?  If you ask him, it’s not a complicated equation. Continue reading

Stan Piekarski, ’90: Work, Passion, Goals, Guitars . . .


Stan Piekarski, Media Communications, ’90

Stan Piekarski graduated with a BA in Media Communications in 1990.  He is now a Sound Designer at Visiontracks, Inc., a St. Louis-based, full-service multimedia production company specializing in video/audio production, multimedia programming, live events, web design, media marketing, e-Learning, and interactive video training.   Stan also gives back to Webster by partnering with the Center for Portfolio Development & Internships to host School of Communications student interns.

We asked Stan to give us a better idea what it is that he does, and how he advises those who’d like to follow a similar career path. Continue reading

Prints to benefit Joplin tornado victims


There is always a way to help.

After seeing the destruction left behind by the tornado that swept through Joplin earlier this month, a handful of the folks at St. Louis-based Moosylvania are putting their talents to use and raising funds for victims. Rachel Hamblin (BA, Advertising and Marketing Communications, 2006) is one of those involved.

“Moose is the kind of place where if you have an idea and the energy, we’ll push you and give you support and let you fly,” Hamblin told the Maplewood-Brentwood Patch.

Moosylvania’s idea? Design and produce 16 original prints devoted to Joplin, sell the prints and send the profits to Southwest Missouri. The artwork already has been available online for a week and 200 prints have already been sold. Prints are $25 each and can be viewed and purchased through PayPal.

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Jaime Williams ’03 Releases Latest Single


Jaime Williams (BA, Media Communications, 2003) always enjoyed music and singing in her church choir, but she never really thought of it as a way to make a living, or even as a subject in which to earn a degree.

“[Singing] is something that I’m naturally good at, but if there’s too much structure around it I lose that passion,” she said. “I didn’t want it to be something I had to do. I just thought music would always be sort of a hobby for me. It was something I did at church.”

Williams instead enrolled at Webster University to become a marketing professional. And she did become one … marketing herself to a successful singing career. “Because of my background at Webster, I’m very, very picky about my personal branding,” Williams said. “It’s just me.”

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Promoting St. Louis’ Quirks

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently interviewed brothers Randy and Jeff Vines (MA, Media Communications, 2006) about the company they both own and operate, STL Style.

The company produces T-shirts, posters, messenger bags and paraphernalia that focus on the people and places in St. Louis. Here’s a copy of the conversation as it ran in the Post-Dispatch:

Your tagline is “You can’t spell Style without STL.” What do you say to people who make fun of St. Louis:

Randy: Most of the negative comments come from ignorance. A lot of people who are down on the city are maybe suburbanites who don’t take the time to know and love the city. There are a lot of misconceptions out there.

But you both grew up in Creve Coeur …

Jeff: Yes, but we fell in love with the city early. We would take the bistate bus into the city in the early ’90s when the city wasn’t so great. We ended up producing an hourlong Saturday TV show on Double Helix television Channel 21 called the “XYZ” show. It included live interviews, comedy skits, call-ins and it was all about the city. That was a unique experience as high schoolers that solidified our love of St. Louis. Continue reading

Mother/Daughter Duo Making a Name for Themselves


Webster University alumna Taran Hensley will grace the red carpet later this month at the 37th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards in Las Vegas, Nev. — and it’s a gourmet pretzel that got her there.

Hensley (BA, Media Communications, 2003) is a marketing professional, an entrepreneur and president of Mom’s Originals, a local business specializing in gourmet pretzels, treats and more. Hensley and her mother Jody will travel to the ceremony to distribute their treats to stars traversing the red carpet.

An estimated 1,400 guests are expected to depart with an Official Emmy Gift Bag.”I don’t think the paparazzi is going to be all over us or anything, but who knows what’s going to happen?” Hensley said. “We’re pretty excited.” Continue reading

Rob DesHotel ’88 Named 2010 Outstanding Alumnus

televisionRob DesHotel earned a bachelor’s degree in media communications from Webster’s St. Louis campus in 1988. The native St. Louisan moved to Los Angeles in 1989 with his drums and electric typewriter, determined to make it as either a drummer or a writer.  DesHotel landed his first job as a production assistant on the NBC daytime soap opera “Santa Barbara,” and was promoted to a writer’s assistant after a year.

After two years on “Santa Barbara,” he got a job working at Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions (“Soap” and “The Golden Girls”), where he was a writer’s assistant on two shows that quickly came and went: “Good & Evil” and “Nurses.”

During this time, he and his then-partner wrote a “Simpsons” spec, which eventually helped them get their first jobs as staff writers on “Hope & Gloria.” They then quickly landed an agent at Creative Artists Agency, and more jobs — writing shows like Nickelodeon’s “The Adventures of Pete & Pete,” and USA’s “Duckman.” Continue reading