Diversity and Inclusion

The Changing Face of Advertising

Julia Fishman

Amanda Guy, Emma LeMay, and Sydia Fraguada, all Class of ‘20, aim to bring diverse perspectives to the industry.


January 31, 2020—Seniors Amanda Guy, Emma LeMay, and Sydia Fraguada have all been selected for professional opportunities that encourage a multicultural perspective in advertising. All three students are communication majors with concentrations in advertising.

Amanda Guy After a competitive application process, Guy was chosen to participate in the Most Promising Multicultural Student program next month in New York City. Sponsored by the American Advertising Federation, this highly selective program connects multicultural students with key advertising agencies in an effort to diversify the advertising talent pool. Previously, Meghan Lai ’19 was selected for this opportunity, and she is now working for the ad agency R/GA in Los Angeles.

Joanna D’Avanzo, Professional Lecturer of Advertising, and Kathy Boyle, Senior Professional Lecturer of Advertising, were both convinced Guy had a strong chance. “We look for students who are leaders in the classroom, as well as those we feel will lead in the industry,” D’Avanzo explained. “The application for the Most Promising Multicultural Student Program requires the student to really think about the advertising industry and how they feel they fit in. We knew Amanda could make a strong case.”

For Guy, who is from White Plains, New York, the encouragement was a huge boon. “Joanna and Kathy really supported me through my application process,” said Guy, who received the good news in November. “Now I’m excited for the opportunity to network with other students from diverse backgrounds and meet recruiters.”

Guy is thrilled for the multi-day opportunity. “I feel there’s power in being at the table,” she explained. She also believes in the power of advertising to impact social change. “I’m excited that a program like this even exists—often there are no people of color in these companies. A company can’t represent all people until it’s composed of all people.”

LeMay, of Sandgate, Vermont, and Fraguada, from the South Bronx, are both finalists for the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP). MAIP fellows are selected by advertising industry professionals and spend 22 weeks engaged in a rigorous program that is both virtual and in-agency.

Making it to the finalist pool is a major accomplishment, as the application process is quite involved. “I wrote four essays, submitted two letters of recommendation, a video, and a link to my portfolio,” said LeMay. Since she applied for a copywriting opportunity, she also created various mock-ups using a line from a song as her creative jumping-off point.

Fraguada applied for design and art direction and had to submit a creative project for each discipline. Echoing LeMay, she noted that the application process was “long but rewarding.” She considered the prompts carefully. “I wanted to tell a story through everything I produced so that the reviewers would feel something,” said Fraguada. “I wanted to show me—a girl from the South Bronx who loves art, music, dancing, and is inspired by the community she comes from. I also aim to help other girls from the ‘hood realize they are worthy.”

Students at the Pipeline event in Atlanta. Top (L to R): Aliyah Wilson ‘21, Emily Cacho ‘20 , Sydia Fraguada ‘20 , Kayla Dixon ‘22, Amanda Guy ‘20, Dania Rodriguez ’22. Bottom (L to R): Emma LeMay ‘20, Alyssa Dancel ‘21, Tamaya Nelson ’20.

Students at the Pipeline event in Atlanta. Top (L to R): Aliyah Wilson ‘21, Emily Cacho ‘20 , Sydia Fraguada ‘20 , Kayla Dixon ‘22, Amanda Guy ‘20, Dania Rodriguez ’22. Bottom (L to R): Emma LeMay ‘20, Alyssa Dancel ‘21, Tamaya Nelson ’20.

Additionally, all three students attended the Multicultural Talent Pipeline event in Atlanta last fall with Desmond Murray, Associate Director of the Employer Experience in the Office of Career Services, and six other Marist students. The experience left an indelible impression. “It was very cool to see people who look like me in high-level positions,” said Guy.

“I was elated to be selected to attend,” said LeMay. “I grew up in a homogenous community in southern Vermont, so it was quite powerful experiencing so much diversity”

“Before that event, I felt a little defeated by the advertising industry,” Fraguada admitted. “But attending made me feel motivated, supported, and acknowledged. I was excited the industry was actually investing in our personal and professional growth.” The networking paid off: Fraguada is currently working as a freelance art director with Digitas Health. She and LeMay will find out whether they have been selected as MAIP fellows next month.

“Advertising has traditionally been a white, male-dominated industry,” said D’Avanzo. “Programs like Most Promising Multicultural Students and MAIP are an effort to change that and recruit fresh talent while better reflecting the diversity of today’s society.” She plans to keep connecting her students to these kinds of opportunities. “I support these initiatives and want our students to be part of this change in the industry. I want them to know that nothing should ever hold them back from reaching for their dreams.”

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