After graduation: where five MJ-school public relations grads have made their mark
Saturday's commencement ceremony had us thinking about the far-flung places where MJ-school graduates land after leaving the nest. We checked in on the career paths of five Carolina public relations graduates to the edge of North and South Korea; the center of the Republican National Committee; the intersection of North and South America for a global networking corporation; the doorstep of our colleagues at the University of South Carolina; and center stage at Saturday Night Live at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Colonel Chad Carroll ’07 (M.A.), public affairs director with U.S. Forces Korea and U.N. Command, was on hand for the April 27 summit at the military demarcation line between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. Carroll told The Washington Post that his team had “been in close coordination with the ROK [Republic of Korea] government and specifically the Blue House [Moon’s executive office and official residence] on setting the conditions for a successful summit” on that memorable Friday. The U.S. Army sent the then-Major Carroll to Carroll Hall for his master’s degree from 2005–07.
Blair Ellis ’13 was appointed deputy national press secretary at the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C., in August 2017. Ellis interned with then-Speaker of the House Thom Tillis in Raleigh before joining U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers’ communications team in October 2013. She was a key member of Ellmers’ team in various roles before being named press secretary and digital media coordinator for the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington, D.C., in 2016. Ellis double-majored in public relations and political science at Carolina.
LaToya Evans ’08 was named head of communications for North and South America at Cisco Systems, Inc. in December 2017. Founded by two Stanford University computer scientists in 1984, today Cisco is one of the largest networking companies in the world. Evans’ corporate career has included communications work in senior positions for Philips Electronics, Walmart, Bank of America and Compass Group prior to Cisco. Evans was a freelance writer, often for magazines like Glamour and People, as a Tar Heel undergraduate.
Brooke Weberling McKeever ’11 (Ph.D.), associate professor at the University of South Carolina’s College of Information and Communications, was named Educator of the Year on May 3, 2018, at the South Carolina chapter of the Public Relations Society of America awards. McKeever, whose research focuses on nonprofit public relations and health communication, received a Certificate in Interdisciplinary Health Communication while she was a graduate student at Carolina. McKeever also coordinates the master's in mass communication program at South Carolina.
In April 2018, Emmy Award-winner Lindsay Shookus ’02 visited with students in Carroll Hall and recorded a podcast with MJ-school Dean Susan King about her work at NBC’s iconic Saturday Night Live weekly late-night program, where she discovered talent like Kristen Wiig and Sam Smith. Shookus joined SNL right out of school. Today the head producer works closely with SNL’s hosts — 21 shows a season — and oversees eight junior producers who scout new music acts and potential hosts. Shookus landed a PR internship in New York City the summer after her junior year at Carolina. “That’s when I got the bug,” she told Elle magazine. “I realized you could have an actual career in entertainment. And I just had no reason to think I couldn’t do it.”