UNLV Students Win National Media Competition
Two UNLV students – known as Team MaJa -- took first place and $3,000 each in scholarships in the Washington Media Scholars Foundation Case Competition June 7 in Washington, D.C.
Maria Jose Flor Agreda, a senior journalism and political science major, and Jami Vallesteros, a senior economics major in the Lee Business School, won the National Excellence in Media Award from a field of seven final teams and more than 100 entrants nationwide. The contest is designed to challenge 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 and 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 the Lee Business School. "I am so proud that they are the Washington Media Scholars champions."
Team MaJa advanced to the finals after two intensive rounds of competition that included analyzing a hypothetical case, media buying, and developing reports. The case involved spending a hypothetical $2.5 million to ensure a special election referendum passed.
The finalists spent June 2-8 in the nation's capital for media, politics, and marketing strategy lectures to sharpen their skills. They also visited media outlets such as Politico and Huffington Post/aol.com, met award-winning journalists and political commentators, and visited elected officials on Capitol Hill.
At the end of the week, students presented their work to a panel of media professionals, who judged them 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."
Vallesteros said the competition was friendly, and the students even kicked around the idea of starting a business together. "We would have all the elements we need – finance, economics, advertising, analysis. We'll see how it pans out in the next five years."
In the meantime, Vallesteros will be busy in his new role 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 is no stranger to winning. He was a member of the 18@18 team that won the undergraduate division of the Governor's Cup last year. He also led the Students in Free Enterprise to victory in the Contender Challenge, a business competition based on the TV show The Apprentice, in the Lee Business School.
A team composed of students from Harvard University and Ithaca College took second place in the Media Scholars Competition and won $2,000 scholarships each.
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