More alumni profiles
Alumna Selected for Prestigious Photo Workshop
JMC alumna Brooke DiDonato, ’12, is on a winning streak. After IMAGE: Brooke Dinato
capturing several highly competitive awards for her photo illustrations, DiDonato has now been selected for the prestigious Eddie Adams Workshop, “an intense-four day gathering of the top photography professionals and 100 carefully selected students.” This is the 25th anniversary of the workshop.
DiDonato’s evocative photo illustrations and year-long conceptual photo diary earned the gold medal for photo illustration in the College Photographer of the Year contest. She placed fourth in Photographer’s Forum magazine’s “2013 Best of College Photography” contest, and her photo, “Exorcism,” graced the cover of their annual, limited-edition hardcover book this spring. In addition, selections from her photo diary were exhibited in “Dreamscape Diary,” the first solo-student photography exhibition displayed in Franklin Hall. They were also featured on the cover and in the centerfold of the Spring 2013 issue of JARGON, the JMC alumni magazine.
DiDonato is a photographer's assistant in Manhattan. More information on her work is available here.
Grad Finds Success in Comedy Writing
Story by Caitrin Cardosi
Robin Henry, ’89, graduated from JMC believing she would be a IMAGE: Robin Henry
journalist for the rest of her life. She started as a copy editor at The Plain Dealer before being recruited by The Philadelphia Inquirer. She later moved to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she rose to the level of managing editor/digital.
During her time in Atlanta, she started taking sketch comedy writing classes at Sketchworks, an Atlanta comedy theater. “It was just for fun,” said Henry. “I never took it seriously.” That changed when the head writer from Tyler Perry Studios directed one of the group’s shows.
The writer asked Henry if she had ever thought about writing for a sitcom. He suggested Henry write a script and let him see it. Her response to his interest in her comedy-writing skills was a less-than-enthusiastic, “Eh, probably not.”
A year passed before Henry reconsidered the idea. After a bit of research on how to write a sitcom script, she sent him a sample of her work – and received no response. “I thought it must have sucked,” laughed Henry, remembering the situation. “I thought ‘Alright, he probably thinks I’m some kind of idiot!’”
Four months later, the writer called her and asked if she would like to audition to be a writer on Perry’s new show, “Meet the Browns.”
Henry decided to use some of her vacation time to audition for the show at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. She auditioned with writers who had worked on “The Cosby Show,” “The Jamie Foxx Show” and other comedy industry veterans.
To her surprise and delight, Henry was picked by the studio to be one of the writers. She quit her job at the Atlanta Journal Constitution to write for the show – a job that offered only a 13-week contract. “It was a big decision, but it worked out.”
Henry continued her career in the comedy business, later writing for Sketchworks and the TV programs “House of Payne” and “The Rickey Smiley Show.” Currently, in addition to writing for “The Rickey Smiley Show,” Henry also writes her own comedy and regularly does stand-up comedy around the Southeast. In 2012, she was a finalist in the Atlanta Improv’s talent search for stand-up comics.
“Journalism was never the thing that drove me. I was good at it, and I was happy to do it, but I never felt the call to the vocation of journalism like other [students],” Henry recalled. “I always loved comedy, but I never knew it was a way to make a living. When I found comedy, I finally understood the passion that journalists feel for their work.”
PR Alum Markets Macy’s
Story by Caitrin Cardosi
Holly Thomas, ’98, grew up watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day IMAGE: Holly Thomas
parade on TV, like millions of Americans. She still watches the parade every year, but now she has a much closer view.
Thomas, who graduated from KSU with a degree in public relations, is the vice president of public relations and cause marketing for Macy’s. One of her many responsibilities is handling media relations for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which requires her to coordinate national and international press coverage of a holiday tradition featuring more than 8,000 participants, character balloons, marching bands, and celebrity performers.
The journey that eventually led to her current position at Macy’s began with a decision to change her major to PR. Her very first PR course, Intro to PR, taught by professor Bill Sledzik, cemented her decision to enter the field.
“The Intro to PR class was a small, close-knit group,” she said. “We all were completely inspired. Sledzik really challenged us, and I’m grateful for that.” The realistic challenges of JMC’s PR curriculum helped prepare her for the rigors of representing an iconic American retailer.
In addition to handling media relations, Thomas also leads Macy’s cause marketing. Macy’s philanthropic campaigns raise millions of dollars for multiple charities. Thomas orchestrates public education, events, and fundraising for causes like “Go Red for Women” in support of the American Heart Association.