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MSU alum Olyvia Neal earns scholarship to pursue her passion for media

embedded-news-olyvia-neal.webpOlyvia Neal (Class of 2023) is taking the extensive experience she acquired at Morehead State University and continuing her education in the nation's capital.  

Neal, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Convergent Media and a Bachelor of Arts in English, received a competitive scholarship to enroll in the Publishing Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.  

"When I was accepted into this program, I was incredibly excited, but when I heard that I had earned their competitive scholarship as well, that was one of the happiest and gratifying moments of my life," Neal said. "Everything I have done in my undergraduate career at MSU led me towards George Washington University's Publishing Master of Professional Studies program."  

The Monticello native grew up loving writing and literature, reading at all hours and filling her notebooks with stories. After experiencing the campus through the Governor's Scholars Program, she decided to attend MSU and earned acceptance into the George M. Luckey Jr. Academic Honors Program.  

"I just absolutely fell in love with the program and the amazing opportunities and resources it provided for its students. I applied, was thankfully accepted, and received their full-ride scholarship. MSU and the Honors Program definitely changed my life," she said.  

Neal's time at MSU fostered an interest in media and publishing, and her love of writing and editing led her to pursue degrees in both English and convergent media. While studying English and developing her writing skills was familiar territory, the convergent media program pushed her out of her comfort zone in an effective way.  

"I pursued convergent media as well because I wanted to learn how to tell the stories of others and give a voice to those in my community through journalistic writing as well. My eyes were quickly opened through convergent media as to the many ways in which stories can be told beyond words," Neal said. "Before college, I had never picked up a camera in my life, but I quickly fell in love with photojournalism and learned how to not only produce multimedia from video to audio features but to edit them as well. Telling stories through all forms of media is now a huge part of my life, and I would not have discovered it if it weren't for both of my majors."  

Neal was proactive in gaining practical experience in media outside of the classroom. At MSU, she served as editor-in-chief of the Honors Program's newsletter, The Unorthodox, MSU's arts and literary journal, Inscape, and the student newspaper, The Trail Blazer. Through her Undergraduate Research Fellowship, she was an editorial assistant for The Kentucky Philological Review throughout her undergraduate career.  

“Olyvia is an outstanding example of a student taking full advantage of the numerous opportunities provided across campus,” said Professor of Art Lisa Mesa-Gaido. “Her experiences writing, editing, and curating are an ideal combination that made her a sought-after candidate for George Washington University's graduate program in Fall 2023.” 

Neal also earned multiple honors for her work in writing and media, including First Place in Creative Nonfiction for Inscape in 2022 and 2023 and First Place for Best General News Picture for the Kentucky Press Association in 2021. She also earned the Caudill College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Outstanding Student in English Award.  

Neal said the news project that was the most impactful for her was completing education abroad in Europe in 2022. During her overseas internship, she was a travel writer and photographer for Southeast Kentucky Magazine, documenting her experience through journaling and photojournalism. The final product was a two-part magazine series called "The European Experience," including written articles and photo essays.  

"I was so incredibly proud of myself because I had never left the country before and had such life-changing experiences during my travels, but I had also never published my own story before, which was the greatest challenge I had ever experienced," Neal said. "It was incredibly difficult and vulnerable for me to write from my own perspective, but through the help of my mentors like Professor (John) Flavell (instructor of communication) and Dr. (Philip) Krummrich (director of the Academic Honors Program), I published pieces that I became proudest of creating."  

After completing the George Washington University graduate program, Neal hopes to become a professional editor and published author. She knows wherever her career takes her in media, she has not just gained invaluable experience at MSU but an elevated sense of responsibility and purpose as she pursues her passion.  

"One thing I have learned and appreciated is that as a member of the world of media, your words have meaning, and your voice has an impact," Neal said. "I have been asked by so many people why I would pursue a career in the media when there is so much division and animosity today, but my love for media stems from its necessity, importance, and relevance in society. The stories of others and the current happenings of the world both need and deserve to be told to their communities and without those courageous enough to go out and tell them, we would be lost. I hope to continue to use my voice in a positive way and continue this pursuit."  

Morehead State's Department of Communication, Media and Languages offers several degree options to prepare students for exciting careers at the forefront of communication in the digital age. To learn more, email or call 606-783-2134

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