Two UNLV students took first place and $3,000 each in scholarships at the Washington Media Scholars Foundation Case Competition last week in Washington, D.C.
Maria Jose Flor Agreda, a senior journalism and political science major, and Jami Vallesteros, a senior economics major, bested six finalists and more than 100 contestants nationwide to win the National Excellence in Media Award.
The contest challenges university students to think strategically, use original methods of communication, and conduct marketing and media analysis.
“The students had the opportunity to visit some of the top political and media firms in the country, giving them an amazing opportunity to network with the top individuals in their field," said Janet Runge, the team's advisor and Global Entrepreneurship Experience coordinator in UNLV’s Lee Business School. "I am so proud that they are the Washington Media Scholars champions."
The students had four weeks to create a strategic media plan based on a hypothetical special election referendum issue. Students worked with data from leading national research and ratings firms to develop a plan that would make the most effective impressions on target voters. They had a hypothetical $2.5 million to spend to make sure the ballot referendum passed.
At the end of the week, students presented their work to a panel of media professionals. Panelist rated students on their analysis of the target audience, advertising media and cost-effectiveness, monthly plan and budget, and overall quality of presentation, reasoning, and creativity.
"It was an honor to be among students from schools that are known for their advertising and media buying programs such as the University of South Carolina and Ithaca College," Vallesteros said. "This was an extremely talented group of scholars with diverse skill sets."
Networking at the job competition also helped Vallesteros land a job as a business analyst at POLITICO Pro. After impressing one of the judges in the competition, Vallesteros scored an interview with the company the day after the big win. He'll relocate to Washington, D.C. later this summer. Vallesteros was also a member of the 18@18 team that won the undergraduate division of the Nevada Governor's Cup in 2011.
UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of more than 27,000 students and 2,900 faculty and staff. Founded in 1957, the university offers more than 220 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs. UNLV is located on a 332-acre campus in dynamic Southern Nevada and is classified in the category of Research Universities (high research activity) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.