Title: 2023 Kristen D. Hofheimer Scholarship - Finalist - Casey Prentice
Description: I work my days at 250%. How is that? I'm a full-time account director at The Hodges Partnership (a PR firm based in Richmond), I'm a full-time mother and partner to my family, and I'm a part-time adjunct employee of Brightpoint Community College where I've helped built and teach courses in digital marketing. While my plate is full, I've decided to add one more helping this fall, which is a master's degree program at ODU for Lifespan & Digital Communications. It seems counterintuitive, and my advisor seemingly raised his eyebrows when I said I was already teaching digital marketing at a community college, but my teaching has opened my eyes to how much work needs to happen within the higher education system. The students I'm teaching aren't getting the best advice for a field that evolves almost yearly. Most of the faculty has been removed from the marketing industry for several years, which means outdated advice and a lack of understanding of the field that exists today. While my industry experience got me in the door as an adjunct, I want to get the credential that will allow me to become a leader for a future second career arc in my life. In the spirit of straightening crowns, both as an adjunct instructor with my students and at my agency where I manage junior staff, my goal is to provide feedback and guidance in a way that is productive, without diminishing their thoughts or feelings. I pay close attention to the details - body language, assignments, emails, commentary - and provide both subtle and direct feedback to help them shine in their roles and in their next steps. Just like in sales - people don't want to be sold, but they still need to buy. In life, we don't always like to receive critical feedback, but when done right, we can give each other the gift of feedback in a way that feels like a gift - and not a ding on our pride or capabilities. I have struggled my entire life with feedback because I'm a perfectionist to my core. By way of my manager and mentor positions, I've found that I've grown to accept feedback from above and below me to help acknowledge areas of improvement so I can better myself, and in turn, others. This has become increasingly important to me as I've removed myself geographically from my original base in Richmond. My family made the move to Virginia Beach this spring to be closer to aging family members. We also have a son who is about to start his K-12 education in August. Now that I can't simply go to a neighboring desk to ask a coworker or friend for guidance, everything I do has an additional layer of intentionality. And graduate school is no different. For my undergraduate degree, I took on the loans I needed to cover the costs I couldn't cover myself. I paid my way through college, supporting myself by working several campus jobs. It is a major accomplishment to become debt-free from my undergraduate experience, and my hope is that I can continue to offset my master's degree program in a similar manner. Through the support of this scholarship, I will have just a little less to worry about when the tuition statement comes through. I can cover a good portion of my fall semester's costs and I can focus on the curriculum at hand. I know there are hundreds of women like me, seeking career and educational advancement for themselves and for their families, but I hope there is something in my story that sets me apart in the pack. Thank you for your time and for the opportunity to be considered for this scholarship.