Diversity and Inclusion

American Advertising Federation Names Meghan Lai ’19 a Most Promising Multicultural Student

Julia Fishman

Lai was one of 50 students selected nationwide for this honor.

November 30, 2018—Meghan Lai ’19 has a laser-sharp focus on the need for more diversity in the advertising industry. “Minorities collectively will be the majority group in the United States in a few years, and companies need to prepare for that,” she explained. “They need to market to a diverse audience and think about that audience. It’s the right thing to do—and it’s also good business.”

A communication major with a concentration in advertising, Lai applied for a prestigious program, the Most Promising Multicultural Students Awards, through the American Advertising Federation (AAF) this fall. Each year, in an effort to increase diversity in the advertising field, AAF puts out a call for applicants. According to the AAF website, “The Most Promising program honors the nation's top multicultural college students and enhances their knowledge and understanding of the advertising industry.” Lai applied at the urging of her advisor, Professional Lecturer of Advertising Joanna D’Avanzo.

The applicant pool included students from more than 200 colleges and universities, and the application process was extensive, including responses to five essay questions, a recommendation, portfolio pieces, and a tagline and hashtag representing the applicant’s personal brand.

In November, the good news came in: Lai was one of just 50 students selected to be part of the 2019 class—a first for Marist. Lai admits the process was challenging, but she was motivated. Her personal tagline? “You can’t discover new horizons until you lose sight of the shore.” She felt this really summed her up. “I’m from Hawaii—born and raised,” she said. “And I only applied to east coast colleges. I was looking for a totally different experience from where I grew up.”

“Meghan deserves this honor,” said D’Avanzo. “She is a student who absolutely takes advantage of the opportunities available to her and, on top of that, she is an incredibly hard worker.”

As a Most Promising Multicultural Student, Lai will head to New York City in February for a three-day event that will include networking opportunities with top companies, such as Ogilvy, Google, and Facebook, and an awards ceremony. The AAF is committed to connecting each class of Most Promising Multicultural Students with prospective employers.

“My dream job is to be an in-house creative—writing or designing ads—for an ethical and sustainable fashion or beauty company. I’m also interested in advertising advocacy work, such as the Ad Council,” Lai explained. She’s excited about the opportunity to meet like-minded students at the February event and is thrilled to have been selected for this honor. “My generation is socially conscious in our buying habits. I like to support companies that promote a diverse and inclusive lifestyle. I think advertising is a great way for brands to show their support for that.”

And Lai is well on her way to joining the next generation of advertising professionals who will do just that.

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