Hunter Walton Grissom
If you’re going to attend college, you might as well get the most out of it.
That is the philosophy of University of Mississippi senior Ingrid Alcina Valbuena, an integrated marketing communications major with minors in Chinese and business administration.
Originally from Maracaibo, Venezuela, Valbuena chose Ole Miss as home because of the IMC program and scholarships available to international students.
“Three years ago, when I was looking at programs to study, the IMC program here at Ole Miss was one of few in existence,” she said. “That, combined with scholarships that UM provided, were important.”
Valbuena quickly became involved joining a sorority and many other student organizations, serving as an orientation leader twice in her college career, becoming a member of the Honors College, and she was inducted into the Columns Society.
Valbuena begins her usual weekday around 7 a.m., taking time for breakfast at the Alpha Omicron Pi house, which has served as her home since her sophomore year. Once she is dressed and packed for class, she heads to Starbucks in the J.D. Williams Library.
While there, Valbuena orders a venti-iced coffee with caramel, a personal mandate, then finds a spot to sit and look over her plans for the day. These hours are essential and ensure she is prepared for any classes or meetings that might arise.
At 9:30 a.m., Valbuena is off to her first class. Once finished, she stops by Martindale, which houses both the Office of Admissions and the Office of Financial Aid. Though she is not required to give a tour of the Oxford campus to any prospective students this day, she does take a moment to write letters to prospective students interested in making Ole Miss their home for undergrads.
Around 11:15 a.m., it’s back to AOII, where Valbuena eats lunch and catches up with friends. She heads to the Grove to soak up a sun and enjoy the warm weather until class again at 1 p.m.
She said she greatly enjoys her “Intro to Public Relations” course and can tell that Professor Robin Street has far more to teach her than just the basics of PR. Valbuena said this class is the highlight of her week and hopes other students in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media get the opportunity to take Street’s course.
With classes over for the day, Valbuena heads to the Student Media Center in Bishop Hall, where she works for Rebel Radio 92.1 FM as both a DJ and marketing director. Music is a passion she shares with her father that has enabled her to connect with people despite their background, beliefs, or native languages.
She has hosted multiple radio shows in the past, some of which have gained large amounts of weekly listeners, and Valbuena takes great pride in her playlists. She has a newfound obsession of Korean Pop, or K-Pop for short. “I’m sending you a link later for a live performance of ‘Mama,’ sung by J-Hope, who is a rapper and vocalist for the K-Pop group BTS,” she said.
Valbuena spends a lot of time in the Student Media Center checking social media accounts and ensuring that marketing details are in order, but today, she took a break and rode to Uptown Coffee. She’s been coming here since she was a freshman, ordering a large iced coffee with caramel before sitting with friends to talk about their week.
Around 6 p.m., Valbuena is off to AOII again for dinner, which is rare since she usually eats at the Union or somewhere off campus at least once a day, rather than each meal at “the House,” as she calls it.
After dinner, Valbuena wraps up her day at the library. There, she sits down to finish up summarizations from research she has conducted for her Honors College thesis.
“It’s all about how ads utilize cues, specifically social and cultural cues, in order to engage minority consumers,” she said. “It’s vital now for brands to no longer refer to ‘minorities’ as ‘one block,’ but to instead research each culture, such as an emotional ad catching the attention of an Indian-American family or family with Indian background. The tactics used to engage with them must be different from that of the typical American family, especially as the United States becomes more and more multicultural.”
Jacob Ferguson, a junior English/history double-major and fellow orientation leader, said he believes Valbuena came into his life when he needed her, adding that she is capable of loving those around her unconditionally, and that she has a natural talent for helping others love themselves as well.
“She thrives at Ole Miss for that same reason,” Ferguson said, “because she loves this place for its good and works to change and improve the bad and ugly in any way she can.”
Ferguson said: “She’s an inspiration to everyone who knows her and anyone who gets the privilege of watching her live her life.”
Valbuena encourages students to try out for activities and opportunities. “Whether it’s a student organization or internship, go for it while you still can,” she said. “At the same time, don’t feel obligated to do all the things. If you aren’t feeling something, drop it and try again. Never settle for something that you don’t love.”
Her own experience and education at Ole Miss has taken her far already, and she hopes that other students can learn to call Ole Miss home, even if only for a few years.
“It’s OK to take a little time getting comfortable here,” she said. “Do only what you love, and you’ll find happiness.”