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The Value of BrandJRNY

When I walked into class the first day and saw five other girls already seated and ready to go, I felt the pressure right away. To say I was nervous is an understatement. To be in the BrandJRNY capstone alone is an achievement, and I knew each of these girls had worked hard to earned their spot here. I, on the other hand, think Dr. Colistra may have just needed one more student to even the group out; I think she liked my brother, who had her capstone a few years prior, enough to let me in.


So, when it was time for our first trip to Point Pleasant, I wondered how it would go. Would someone want to room with me? Would we even have roommates? Or would I be the last chosen like a sad middle-school story from whenever we played dodgeball in gym class? Luckily Hannah, our Brand Manager, was responsible for coordinating the room assignments, so if no one chose me, to this day, I’d never know.


We left Morgantown early Thursday morning and stopped at Dunkin before heading to Point Pleasant for our immersion trip. Adison, our driver and advertising director, was sweet enough to pick us all up. I don’t think this blog post would be complete without me also mentioning I loved her car. There were also only four of us in the car this time around. Adrianne, our public relations director, was sitting shotgun, and Jessie, our creative director, was in the backseat with me, basically guarding the Brand Launch Save the Dates with her life.


As we began driving, I noticed how everyone wanted to talk to one another and keep the conversation alive. If it died down or the car got quiet, someone else would ask a new question or bring up a fresh topic to get to know one another better. It was never invasive or rude, making someone feel uncomfortable. Instead, it was honest and very refreshing. So often, I feel as if I’m talking, and people aren’t truly listening, but not on that car ride. I felt like these girls, who were complete strangers just a few weeks before, wanted to get to know me as badly as I want to get to know them. They cared about my background, my childhood, and my goals/plans after college, and I cared about theirs.


While the team traveled down in three separate cars, we all arrived at the same time, and it felt like we all knew each other. We talked about personal things and showed our trust in letting one another know these details about ourselves. We all sat around the table at the Mothman Urban Legends Bar & Grille, where for the first time, I saw our fearless leader, Dr. Colistra, take a work break. We all laughed, enjoying our food, already sharing inside jokes like we’d known one another much longer than a month.


As the trip went on, I grew to know each of the girls on a much deeper level. Chelsea and I bonded more than I ever thought. She, being forced to share a bed with me because I refused to sleep in the haunted hall at the Lowe Inn, and I talked for hours that night. We had basically grown up with the same childhood, but in completely different states.


Sunset in Point Pleasant | Source: David Smith

We all bonded, not because we prodded one another with questions, but because the leadership of this group reached down to each one of us and affected us positively. Hannah, our genuine and caring manager, set the tone for each of us to look after one another. Once we all bonded and began to see that even Dr. Colistra was human, well basically superhuman, we all started to let that guard down that kept us apart. I think that’s what makes this team so successful. The team’s success isn’t a result of individual talent, but a result of each person seeing the value in everyone else (just like Dr. Colistra saw the value in me).


My name is Rebecca Jerome, I am the Social Media Director for the Point Pleasant project. I copy my brother in simply everything he does because I think he is one of the coolest people alive (true for both of my brothers.) Make sure to follow me on Twitter - @rebeccaajeromee!

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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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