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

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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.

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

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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

Jaime Williams ’03 Releases Latest Single

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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

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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

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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

Jim Salmo ’85 Named Rhode Island College’s VP for Advancement

JimSalmoThe Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education on Monday appointed Jim Salmo (MA, Media Communications, 1985) as the new vice president for advancement at Rhode Island College.

Salmo also will serve as executive director for the RIC Foundation. He starts Feb. 8.

Salmo previously served as associate vice chancellor for development – health services at the University of Missouri.

Troika Brodsky ’01: From Keg Delivery to Communications Director

troikaTroika Brodsky’s initial job description at the St. Louis Brewery was pretty simple.

“I just looked for stuff that needed to be done and got it done,” said Brodsky (BA, Media Communications and Art, 2001), who started working for Schlafly Beer shortly after graduation.

“When I started here, and more or less for the entire time I have been here, my work has been self-directed,” he said. “That first year I did everything from running Ethernet cables to driving kegs to Springfield.”

While he’s no longer driving kegs to Springfield, Brodsky’s still focused on getting things done. Brodsky is a creative person by nature who utilized his art education to design posters, flyers, banners and table tents on behalf of the brewery. “The majority of what I’ve done has been creative-based, he said. Continue reading