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Martin Scholars

Program Overview

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The purpose of the Martin Scholars program is to inspire and develop a future generation of leaders among today’s outstanding Communication majors at the College of Charleston. The program develops a select group of senior Communication majors through a combination of exposure to effective communication leaders who serve as mentors and teachers, networking opportunities with Communication alumni and the Department of Communication Advisory Council members, and experiential learning.

Mentoring the next generation of leaders—by parents, teachers, coaches, employers and all who encourage and inspire us to do great things—is a critical force in shaping an enlightened society. The Martin Scholars will be taught, counseled, shaped and influenced by seasoned communication veterans. In turn they will further develop their own skills, insights and abilities to serve in this valued role as they launch their communication careers.

The Scholars will participate in a variety of activities, including:

  • Bi-weekly Meetings: Martin Scholars will meet 10-15 times during the academic year. Speakers will include local members of the Advisory Council and other leaders from the communications function as global, regional and local companies such as Boeing, Santee Cooper, Rawle Murdy, Blackbaud, Chernoff Newman, Lou Hammond Associates and other organizations.
  • Mentor program: All Martin Scholars will be paired with a mentor, such as a local communications executive or a member of the Department of Communication Advisory Council, for the academic year.
  • Communication Department Spring Break Trip: Martin Scholars will participate in the Department of Communication annual spring break trip to New York and Washington. They will attend two special dinners, one in New York and one in Washington, with local CofC alumni and members of the Advisory Council.
  • Advisory Council dinners: Martin Scholars will be invited to attend special dinners each semester with the Advisory Council during the Council's visit to campus.
  • Martin Scholars Alumni Network: As the program matures, graduates of the Martin Scholars program will meet at least once a year and will be invited to attend some of the monthly meetings with current participants.
  • Participant Expectations: The Martin Scholars will be expected to participate actively in all sessions, including regular meetings; they will be required to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA; they will be expected to communicate regularly with their mentors; they will be expected to participate in the Spring Break trip, including the special dinners arranged for them; they will be expected to serve as departmental ambassadors in meaningful ways throughout the year.


  • To recognize and develop students majoring and minoring in Communication who have an interest in and aptitude for leading and mentoring others--now and in the future—and excelling in the communications profession.
  • To provide networking opportunities for these Martin Scholars with acknowledged leaders in the communication profession, from the Department of Communication Advisory Council, global, regional, and local companies and agencies, department faculty and alumni.
  • To build positive awareness of the Department of Communication and the College of Charleston through the efforts and outreach of the Martin Scholars program


The program will accept up to 10 students each academic year. Students will be rising seniors, selected in the spring of their junior year.

The application for the 2018-2019 class of Martin Scholars is now open.

Applicants are asked to prepare the following:

  • Complete the Martin Scholars Program application (application closed; will reopen in spring 2019)
  • Provide a current resume. Email resume to
  • Online recommendations from up to 2 faculty members -- Faculty Nomination Form (application closed; will reopen in spring 2019)

Wanda and Tom Martin

History of the Program

The Martin Scholars Program was initiated in spring 2016 by Thomas and Wanda Martin. Read the full article about the creation of the program in The College Today. See below for excerpts:

Created to inspire future generations of leaders and mentors among outstanding communication majors and minors at the College of Charleston, the Martin Scholars Program provides invaluable networking opportunities for students to meet with leaders in the communication profession. In turn, the Martin Scholars and the outreach they do will build positive awareness of the Department of Communication and the College of Charleston.
Tom Martin, who first became involved with the College when he joined the Department of Communication Advisory Council in 2004, has served as the communication department’s executive-in-residence since 2007, when he retired from his post as senior vice president of corporate relations at ITT Corporation, a global engineering company. Now that he’s in the classroom, his top priorities are improving students’ writing skills and decision-making skills so that they are ready to navigate the real world strategically, ethically and credibly. He also encourages students to focus on giving back, and leads a spring break networking trip for students to Washington, D.C. and New York City.
And he and Wanda, who serves as a literacy tutor with the Reading Partners at James Simons Elementary, are leading by example. The Martins believe that one of the most important forces shaping a progressive society is the mentoring of future generations by parents, teachers, coaches, employers and others who encourage and inspire great things. By creating the Martin Scholars Program, they hope to inspire the future generation of mentors among today’s outstanding communication students at the College.

Introducing the 2018-2019 Martin Scholars

2018-2019 Martin Scholars Class

Tom Martin announced the 2018-19 class of Martin Scholars at the welcome back event for Martin Scholars & Mentors on Aug. 24, 2018. Congratulations to the 10 seniors selected as Martin Scholars: Abby Adelman, Kelsey Baum, Desiree Belsom, Elizabeth Cochran, Jack Gilchrist, Dustin Hacker, Courtney Hicks, Sawyer Martin, Caroline Mooney, and Kelly Rosenblatt. Read more about the mentoring program here.

2018-2019 Martin Scholars Mentors

Melissa Delaney, Writer and Editor, Delaney Editorial
Michael Fanning, Director, Sustainable Development, Michelin (retired)
Mary Garrett, Global Marketer, Board Director
Stan Gray, CEO & Publisher, Dig South
Peter LaMotte, Senior Vice President, Chernoff-Newman
Margaret Pilarski, Strategist, Outline Communication
Emily Randisi, Creative Account Manager at Obviouslee Marketing
Hayes Roth, Principal, H.A. Roth Consulting
Cat Taylor, Partner, Byrdhouse Public Relations
Jeff Webster, Director of PR and Social Media, Rawle Murdy
Jon Yarian,  Managing Partner, Outline Communication

Inspirations: Martin Scholars Describe Program Experiences

Benefits from Attending Kick-Off Leadership Retreat

Berkeley Fisher shares her experience from the kickoff leadership event for the group which was held the first weekend in September.

"Describing the Wampee Retreat is difficult to put into words, as many of the Martin Scholars can attest to. We can tell you that we visited Santee Cooper’s headquarters, toured its coal generation station, and had dinner with CEO Lonnie Carter, but the experiences we had go beyond the busy schedule that weekend.

Before this weekend, I thought the term “synergy” was a bogus word. Synergy just had to be a word made up by executives to describe how they get tasks done. After this weekend, I whole-heartedly believe in synergy. As this was the first retreat for the Martin Scholars, we were just getting to know each other. We clicked immediately. It was refreshing to be surrounded by brilliant people who actively enjoy learning. Touring a coal plant may not seem like fun, but we were all excited. We watched each other shine while talking about our goals. We brainstormed together and advised each other on various topics. Synergy is real, and I have experienced it first-hand.

The inaugural year of the Martin Scholars Program is just beginning, and I cannot wait to see our group’s potential."

Public Relations Inspiration for Our Future Careers

Megan Dunn shares her experience from last week’s meeting (Sept. 23) with Rawle Murdy, an advertising, marketing, and public relations company based in Charleston, SC.

"Our Rawle Murdy visit this past Friday was not only insightful, but valuable to our group of Martin Scholars. During our visit, we were able to talk to Jeff Webster, Rawle Murdy's Director of Public Relations. Jeff discussed the various campaigns the agency works on, and how they are able to work together to think of fresh and engaging content. We were also able to meet Daniel Brock, the Account Supervisor for both PR and Social Media, as well as Sebastian Hale, the PR and Social Media Team's Account Coordinator. Beyond talking to us about the firm's different campaigns, Jeff, Daniel and Sebastian also provided us with advice on how to further ourselves strategically in our future careers. With their insight, we were able to learn more about the world of marketing and public relations, which made us all think differently about the field.

We left the visit feeling inspired, wanting to learn more about the world of Public Relations and what it has to offer. Having the opportunity to be surrounded by people who are so passionate about their career and their work environment made us feel hopeful for our futures and personal goals. I am looking forward to more Martin Scholar events as the year progresses and can't wait to see what we will do!"

Conversation & Boeing Tour Serve as Motivation for Personal Goals

Taylor Shawver writes about the group's tour at Boeing and the insights from that visit with Boeing staff.

This past Friday (Oct. 14, 2016) the Martin Scholars had the unique opportunity to visit Boeing South Carolina. Different from our past experiences, we were able to not only meet with Rob Gross, Communications Specialist, but we were able to tour where the planes are assembled. During our visit Mr. Gross highlighted how he sometimes forgets how cool his job is, but when he gives tours and sees how amazed everyone is he remembers just how lucky and admirable it is to do what he does. This idea was something that truly resonated with our team. We felt as though we could relate, especially with going to school in Charleston.

Sometimes we get so used to our surroundings and lifestyle that we forget just how remarkable it is. It was inspiring to be in an environment with so many hopes and dreams for the future.

Unique experiences like this one, truly makes an impact on each of us in the program. The inspiration and positive energy from each visit directly reflects back into our own goals and initiatives. We hope that our fellow COMM majors can get a glimpse of our experience through these insights and that this motivates each and every one of you to try new things and get involved!

November Visits Featured Contrasting Public Relations Firms

Nia Strothers discusses the November visits the Martin Scholars participated in at Byrdhouse PR and Chernoff Newman. 

On Friday, November 4th, we had the opportunity to learn about the growing sector of small public relations companies. Cat Taylor, a College of Charleston graduate, is a partner at a small firm here in Charleston called Byrdhouse Public Relations, LLC. Byrdhouse has represented many businesses in the Charleston area and beyond, with a current client book of 8 businesses. Cat Taylor and the founder of Byrdhouse were heavily involved with building the Charleston Food + Wine Festival into the internationally-recognized annual event that it is today. Byrdhouse has channeled this love for food, outstanding chefs, and the restaurant industry into building an impressive client base of restaurants and chefs. What was memorable about our trip to Byrdhouse was that we visited several other local small businesses that are all housed in the same building.

On Friday, November 11th, we visited a large, full-service marketing company called Chernoff Newman. Our host at this company was Peter LaMotte, a senior vice president with the firm. Chernoff Newman is unique to other marketing agencies because it offers all marketing services under one roof, when traditionally businesses that are seeking marketing services have to work with different companies that specialize in different things. Chernoff Newman offers website design, social media management, public relations, branding, logo design, copywriting, advertising, and many other services, so it is truly a ‘one stop shop.’  Additionally, Peter LaMotte shared his prior work experiences with us and shed light on the importance of crisis communication and digital strategy.

Our group very much appreciated the different insights into the communication industry at each of these different-sized companies.

Dinner with Former CofC President Leo Higdon

Amanda Phagan talks about leadership inspiration in the Martin Scholars visit with former Pres. Higdon. 

Having dinner with Former College of Charleston President Leo Higdon last Thursday was an absolute pleasure. Higdon was President of the College from 2001 to 2006 and currently serves as Connecticut College’s President. At the dinner -- attended by not just the Martin Scholars but also the Schottland Scholars (School of Business), Teacher Leaders (School of Education), and Department of Communication Advisory Council -- Higdon immediately left a good impression on us. Somehow, in a room of what seemed like more than 50 people, former President Higdon managed to speak to and shake hands with everyone. Then, around the time dessert was being served, Higdon began his talk on leadership. His advice was peppered with references to his extensive experience as an academic administrator and insight from his time as a Wall Street executive. He spoke of organizational constraints and the challenges of teamwork, but more than anything else, Higdon stressed the importance of appearing to colleagues and constituents as a down-to-earth, reasonable, and approachable person. Of course, he encouraged all of us to reach our dreams by always communicating effectively, trying our best, and ignoring naysayers, but Higdon’s “everyman” sort of attitude was most telling of his character. Because of our solid and diverse backgrounds in the realm of Communication, the other Martin Scholars and I found Higdon’s talk to be particularly relevant to our futures as leaders in our field. Moving forward, we will be sure to take the former President’s advice and simply be our best, most clear and accessible selves -- especially in an increasingly complicated and challenging professional world.

Advice for Future Communication Professionals

Corey Law shares his experience from last week’s visit to Lou Hammond Group, a fully integrated marketing communications firm.

Lou Hammond Group’s Charleston office graciously hosted the Martin Scholars on Friday, Jan. 27. The agency is a fully integrated marketing communications firm headquartered in New York with offices in Miami, Los Angeles and Charleston. They offer their clients a wide range of services from branding, naming, logo design, website creation, media relations and digital marketing campaigns. Providing all these services generates powerful results for their clients. For instance, Lou Hammond played a key role in establishing Charleston as a global leader in the destination weddings market. “It’s fun to see when PR affects the bottom line and improves communities,” said Gina Stouffer, president of the Charleston office.

Gina and her staff offered valuable advice for future communication professionals. First, it’s critical to be an engaging conversationalist to ensure you make a great impression in your job interview. Next, focus on improving your writing skills. Lou Hammond (and every agency we visit) confirmed that hiring managers have “strong writing skills” as their number one need. Finally, put “Become a networking all-star” on the list of your 2017 resolutions. Networking is essential to success in today’s difficult job market, so make sure your LinkedIn profile is polished and professional (if you don’t have one, you should). Don’t be afraid to reach out to those in your network to set up a lunch/coffee meeting. Remember that nobody’s going to listen if you haven’t made a sound.

There’s no better networking opportunities than the Department of Communication’s Advisory Council events. Our department has provided us with industry leaders – so get your face in front of theirs! Also, juniors should apply to the incredible Martin Scholars program. It’s a great way to ensure you have all the tools you need to be a leader in the communication field.

Contact Us

Martin Scholars Program Director
Thomas R. Martin

Office: 9 College Way
Phone: 843.953.6383

Applications & Events Contact:
Cassandra P. Foster

Office: 9 College Way
Phone: 843.953.4360