Two University of Wisconsin Oshkosh journalism alumni have made their marks in their profession while also finding time to give back to their communities.
Alicia Ly ’15, of Appleton, has earned UW Oshkosh’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award and Patricia (Horejs) Purcell ’89, of Neenah, has earned UWO’s Distinguished Alumni Award, both given by the UWO Alumni Association.
Promoting her mother’s business sparked a passion
Ly, who graduated with a journalism degree with a concentration in advertising and a minor in French, is currently a media manger, paid social at Publicis Media-Performics in Chicago. She leads a line of business for Comcast Xfinity’s paid social media activation and credits her mother’s salon for sparking her social media interest.
“My passion for social media stems from working at my mother’s salon,” Ly said. “I put her salon on Google Maps, got her Facebook and Instagram pages up and running. Through social media, she was able to gain new clients and keep everyone update on her salon hours and pricing.”
Ly moved from putting her mother’s salon on the map to directing millions of dollars in digital budgets for social media activation and campaigns for Comcast Xfinity and Mattel. She also has assisted on campaign activations for brands like Barbie, Hot Wheels, American Girl and Fisher Price.
Prior to her advertising career with Pubicis, Ly work as a resource development association at the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) in Chicago through AmeriCorps VISTA. Her time spent at JASC allowed her to hone in on her creative skills for organic social media activation and resource development outreach to local Chicago businesses for in-kind donations for fundraisers.
Although not with JASC anymore, Ly still donates her time, volunteering with JASC once a year for the Japanese Children’s Festival in November.
Finding time to give back while balancing a demanding job is extremely important to Ly. She is proud to have organized Performics’ first Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) panel discussion to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month in May. She utilized the relationships she built in Chicago the past three years to bring those individuals into Publicis Media to debunk Asian American stereotypes.
“While I continue to grow my digital media career, I want to become a gatekeeper and advocate for Asian American women to be represented in new media,” Ly said. “I want young Asian girls to see someone in mainstream media who they can relate to and feel represented.”
Confidence gained working for Fortune 100 company leads to starting own business
Purcell, a journalism graduate with a minor in business administration, worked as a marketing director at three different financial institutions before joining Fortune 100 company Kimberly-Clark Corp. in 1996.
Her nearly 12-year career with Kimberly-Clark saw Purcell work as an account executive for Kleenex and Kotex, an assistant product manager for Cottonelle Bathroom Tissue and product manager for Cottonelle, advertising manager for Kotex and Poise/Depend brands, a communications manager for Poise/Depend brands and the communication and advertising manager for the Depend brand.
“I am proud of having been able to secure a communications position at Kimberly-Clark in my early career days, which provided me with the opportunity to go back to school at UW Oshkosh and nearly finish my graduate degree,” Purcell said. “That rich training ground at a Fortune 100 employer, along with my journalism and graduate school work, gave me the confidence and skills to birth my own writing company.”
Purcell launched her business Writing by Design in 2006. The international writing company specializes in writing concepts for international and U.S.-based Fortune 500 consumer packaged goods companies that are launching new products, as well as providing marketing communications and strategy for companies of all sizes.
While she worked with many partners throughout the years, it wasn’t until 2015 when she hired her first employee. Writing by Design now has five employees and numerous subcontractors who help meet the needs of the company’s variety of clients, ranging from a Saudi Arabia-based dairy company to local businesses like Verve, a Credit Union.
One of Purcell’s most memorable events was making the connection in Saudi Arabia.
“Landing our first overseas-based client—a $25 billion dairy company located in Saudi Arabia—via a Google search they conducted and subsequent phone interview was a very memorable event,” Purcell said. “They hired Writing by Design without ever meeting us and have conducted business via telephone only since 2016.”
Like Ly, it is also important to Purcell to volunteer her time and expertise to her community. She has given hundreds of hours to the local nonprofit Learn 2 Fish with US (L2F), helping grow the sport of fishing by educating youth and adults and giving them skills they can use for life. She also donates her time to her church—St. Gabriel Parish in Neenah—as the financial secretary, as a marketing committee member for Lourdes Academy in Oshkosh and provides marketing assistance and serves on the finance council for St. Mary Catholic Schools in Neenah.
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