Determination leads IMC student through pandemic, towards master’s

This is a photo of students passing by the Farley Hall building at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Annabelle Rowland.
Farley Hall houses the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media. Photo by Annabelle Rowland.

Mahala Echols
Oxford Stories 

Reese Colaluca, a recent University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduate, is just one of the many college students who had to dig in with determination during the pandemic. Today, she is pursuing her master’s degree in integrated marketing communications, or IMC.

Growing up, Reese went to a large high school in Texas, graduating with over 1,000 fellow students that she believes helped prepare her for college.

“Going to a really big high school helped me understand how to deal with different types of people and gave me skills for the real world,” Colaluca said. “First, I was a nursing major, but I wasn’t sure about the program. Then my advisor suggested I take one or two IMC classes. I then declared my major two weeks later to IMC.”

Colaluca’s drive led her to complete the IMC degree with a specialized focus on social media. Now in the university’s graduate program, her favorite UM classes have been social media-focused. She finds them beneficial for both personal and professional endeavors. 

Colaluca now works for Ole Miss as a marketing graduate assistant for the School of Applied Sciences. Her responsibilities include writing news stories, running social media accounts, and coordinating events. Colaluca credits past courses with her current success.

“Content creation classes have helped so much with this role,” she said. 

Colaluca believes her undergraduate education and positive attitude will help her stand out in the workforce.

Reese Colaluca with a graduation cap. Submitted photo.
Reese Colaluca with a graduation cap. Submitted photo.

“As of now, my current goal is to do the best I can with my current marketing position and continue building content to show future employers,” she said. 

After completing her graduate degree, Colaluca plans to land a job with a marketing agency in New York City. She is excited about the possibility of taking a full-time position and seeing where it leads. 

“I’m planning on going to New York for maybe three or four years, then try and find somewhere I can jump in and make a long-term career,” she said. “I don’t wanna be 50 years old living in New York City.” 

Those who know her say she has what it takes. 

“Her drive and determination, as well as everything she has learned, are the things that will make her a successful asset no matter where she is or what she’s doing,” said Kim Colaluca, her mother. 

Reese Colaluca faced educational obstacles due to COVID-19 when unexpected changes happened to both her classes and internship opportunities.

“The global pandemic led her to push even harder for her success,” said Kim Colaluca.

Kim speaks from her heart, praising her daughter for the impressive drive and work ethic that took her through her undergraduate degree and into her current graduate program.

While the pandemic hindered Colaluca’s in-class learning and internship opportunities, she looks at the bright side. 

“I think the pandemic showed people that marketing can be done all digitally from home,” she said. “It doesn’t really need to be an in-person job.”

Colaluca is keeping her options open about where she plans to locate after her dream job in New York City and strongly believes skills gained from the IMC program at Ole Miss will open many doors and opportunities. 

“With an IMC degree, you have to take some general business classes, law, and even some accounting classes,” she said, preparing one for much more than just IMC.  

“Down the road, I hope to be a vice president (VP) or director of marketing at an agency,’’ she said. 

She also sees the value of networking and researching opportunities. 

“You never know who is out there or what opportunities are available,” she said, “so always be friendly, and always research open positions because there might be one out there that better suits you.” 

Colaluca’s advice for future IMC students: “Always put 100% into what you’re doing because you never know who may come across it. Those who come across it may end up being interested in you.”

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