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From ‘FaceTime Girl’ to College Graduate: A Personal Story of Growth

I spent my first day of class for BrandJRNY sitting at the dining room table of an Airbnb in

Raleigh, North Carolina. With my headphones in my ears and attention focused on my computer screen, I sat as a silent observer over a Zoom video conference and watched class take place in Morgantown. However, despite my physical estrangement, I knew I needed to be in two places at once since my travel plans would be imposing on the start of what later became the hardest and most rewarding experience of my college career. 


The fall 2019 BrandJRNY team’s first day of class (I’m the one on the laptop screen). | Source: Carly Smith

It was intimidating starting BrandJRNY over 400 miles away with no established relationships in the class. I knew BrandJRNY would be unlike any other traditional course I had taken in the past, but I was unsure of what to expect. Long story short, I was nervous and feared what I didn’t know - especially when the class started to take a written quiz, and my friends in the Airbnb rushed around me to get ready for a wedding rehearsal. I could feel my heart pumping in the midst of the chaos. After the video conference ended, I felt like I had been rocked awake for what I needed to do for the remainder of the semester: work hard. 


Throughout the semester, BrandJRNY gave me the opportunity to apply the skills I’d learned throughout my curriculum at WVU and apply them in a real campaign. I contacted media for news coverage, wrote press releases and media advisories, outlined objectives for Phase I of our campaign, and even had the opportunity to do some design work. Looking back, I was uncertain of myself and my ability to perform well in such a fast-paced course with so many moving parts. After completing the class, however, I feel like I’ve acquired new skills and sharpened the ones I had at the beginning of the semester. 


My experience in BrandJRNY has been humbling and empowering as a student and developing professional. I learned about working in a team, managing time, how to come back from mistakes, and how to accept and apply constructive criticism. As the semester progressed, I slowly grew into my position and learned how to have confidence in my abilities, even when I was unsure of myself. Any prior fears of the unknown had vanished with each life lesson and team accomplishment. 


Working on this campaign with BrandJRNY has been an incredibly rewarding adventure that I will carry with me after graduation and into my next season of life as a graduate student at WVU's Integrated Marketing Communications program. While I will miss being enrolled in BrandJRNY, I look forward to following the remainder of the campaign from behind my computer screen, similarly to how I started on the first day of class. Only this time, I will be fully confident in myself as a professional and no longer afraid of the unknown.


My name is Ruth Deely—most people call me Ruthie. I am the public relations and community relations director for BrandJRNY’s Point Pleasant Project. I have 40 first cousins and I laugh at my own jokes. Follow me through our journey — @ruthhh003



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Housed at the WVU Media Innovation Center, BrandJRNY is a community branding initiative that is a grant-funded collaboration between the American Electric Power Foundation and WVU Reed College of Media.

The Initiative was previously funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation for our three pilot projects.

Original website designed by Mariah Elliott, under the direction of PI and Director Dr. Rita Colistra.

Photos and content may not be used without written permission by contacting brandjrny@gmail.com.

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