SIU Carbondale advertising student earns national diversity honor

National recognition: Monserrat Muñoz, a senior majoring in journalism with a specialization in advertising, was recently recognized by American Advertising Federation as one of the organization’s 50 Most Promising Multicultural Students for 2024 — the first time an SIU student has been selected for the highly competitive honor. (Photo by Russell Bailey)

Southern Illinois University Carbondale senior journalism major Monserrat Muñoz knows exactly where she needs to be.

The once shy and quiet Muñoz has taken what she has learned in SIU Carbondale’s advertising program and used it to be nationally recognized as one of American Advertising Federation’s (AAF) 50 Most Promising Multicultural Students for 2024. This is the first time that a student from SIU has been selected for the highly competitive honor.

“It seems so unreal that I was selected as one of 50 in the nation,” said Muñoz, who is from Fairmont City, Illinois, and a Collinsville High School graduate. “I am honored to have been selected to represent SIU Carbondale as well as my roots. Being selected has shown me that all my hard work has paid off.”

Muñoz will participate Feb. 4-9 in New York in professional development and personal branding workshops and have the opportunity to connect with advertising, media, communications and tech companies.

“I can’t wait to get industry insight on how to succeed and be a representation/role model for others. Also being in New York again is something I am very excited about,” said Muñoz, who will earn her degree in May with a specialization in advertising. She will also earn a minor in Spanish.

Wants to mentor others

Muñoz is president and creative director of Saluki AdLab, a student-run advertising organization, and she learned of the AAF competition through Saluki AdLab faculty adviser Bridget Lescelius, an associate lecturer in the College of Arts and Media’s School of Journalism and Advertising. Muñoz decided to enter because she wants to serve “as a mentor to other diverse students who may be walking in a similar path to myself. Advocacy and representation are something I didn’t receive much of growing up.

“I would love to build a network of like-minded individuals who may share similar lived experiences and challenges as myself. This opportunity will help me bridge the gaps that I believe would help me succeed in my future career while helping bring others up along with me moving forward.”

After she graduates, Muñoz wants to work at an advertising agency as a junior creative working her way up to become an art director or go to graduate school to develop her skills further. In either role, she plans to advocate for diversity and inclusion in the advertising industry.

Work with Saluki AdLab was key

Muñoz’s older brother attended SIU Carbondale, and that had a “huge impact” in where she went to college. She was attracted to advertising due to the “creativity and team aspect” within the profession.

“When I dove into what advertising consisted of, it opened my eyes to how impactful advertising is and how it can have big impacts and influence changes,” she said.

Muñoz’s selection was based on a portfolio of her Saluki AdLab work and judged by advertising industry professionals. Muñoz said Saluki AdLab has given her “professional hands-on experience that has allowed me to build my portfolio and have an impact on real work.”

Lescelius said she could not think of a more deserving student.

“Monse has worked very hard the last two years to build a portfolio worthy of this award. It will open so many doors for her,” Lescelius said. “I’m incredibly proud of Monse’s growth and accomplishments. When she joined AdLab, she was shy and quiet. Now she’s winning national awards.”

In turn, Muñoz credits Lescelius, noting her “huge impact on what I consider my accomplishments” and someone who “always advocates for us as students.”

“She has allowed me to fail and succeed and will be there to help pick us up if we ever have questions,” Muñoz said. “She has had confidence in my abilities to create content and communicate with clients, which has helped me grow in a personal and professional capacity.”

Muñoz’s selection is noteworthy for the program, Lescelius said.

“Our program is so small compared to most of the other programs, so it’s huge for us,” she said. “It’s a testament to our school’s commitment to experiential learning and supports our position as a professional school with lab-based opportunities like AdLab. Classroom learning gets them grades; experiential learning gets them jobs.”

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