Alumnus speaks at awards ceremony, $200,000 in scholarships awarded

May 3, 2013
Chris Talley

Chris Talley, VP of Brand and Strategy at USAA, served as the guest speaker at the annual Journalism,
Public Relations & New Media award ceremony and was honored as the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus.
(Photo by Matt Hellman)

By Taylor Rexrode, journalism student

The Journalism, Public Relations and New Media department held its annual student awards banquet April 22, celebrating student work and accomplishments from both the fall and spring semesters.

Alumnus Chris Talley, vice president of brand and strategy at the United Services Automobile Association (USAA), a financial services organization that caters to members of the military and their families, offered words of encouragement to students as the event's guest speaker.

"I'm very honored to be around such unbelievable talent," Talley said.

Talley, a public relations graduate, held four internships during his time at Baylor. After graduation, he acquired his MBA from a Colorado campus of the University of Phoenix and went on to work for Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, Houston's Churchill Group, Inc. and Fleishman-Hillard International Communications. After 13 years with Fleishman-Hillard, Talley joined USAA in July 2008. He now works to promote and communicate USAA's brand, image and performance. After all these years, Talley still feels connected to Baylor.

"This is where I met my mentor," Talley said. "It's where I learned to be a better writer. It means the world to be back."

While attending the ceremony, Dr. Sara Stone, the chair of the Journalism, Public Relations & New Media department, presented Talley with the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus award. Dr. Stone was one of Talley's professors when he attended Baylor.

"Chris Talley is widely respected in the field of public relations, and it was a wonderful opportunity for our students to hear someone of his caliber speak," Dr. Stone said. "He is one of our very special graduates, and it was a real treat for the faculty, too, to have him back on campus."

The Journalism, Public Relations & New Media department is full of graduates working for some of the most reputable communications organizations and companies in the world, including Fleishman-Hillard, Weber Shandwick, CNN, Fox News and The New York Times.

The department has received much recognition within the past few years, particularly through its student-produced publications. In 2012, student publications earned awards from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association, Balfour Publishing Company and the Houston Press Club.
Many of these student achievements were announced at the awards banquet. Awards were passed out to the writers, photographer and designers who stood out as exceptional within the department and several of these students received scholarships for the 2013-2014 school year. More than 100 scholarships were handed out to students based on merit and need, totaling approximately $200,000 awarded to students within the department.

Kappa Tau Alpha

Photo courtesy of Matt Hellman

During the ceremony, the following students were inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, the national honor society in journalism and mass communication.

Graduate Students
Savanah Landerholm

Jessica Chia
Catherine West
Alexus Miller
Molly Dunn

Taylor McNamara
Sahara Price
Paula Solis
Derek Byrne
Marissa Marak
Caroline Brewton
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