The University of Tennessee at Martin Department of Mass Media and Strategic Communication presented Vanessa Parker Presson with its 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award and Jennifer Taylor with its Outstanding Young Alumni Award during a virtual reception April 7.
Presson, a 1997 UT Martin graduate, is the complex HR manager for the new Tyson Foods plant in Humboldt, where she leads the charge of recruiting 1,600 team members. Her 15-year career in human resources has included positions with Delta Faucet, Reinhausen Manufacturing and US Farathane. She is a graduate of UT Martin’s WestStar Leadership Program and an alderwoman with the City of Medina.
“Vanessa’s expertise in leadership and desire to make a difference are impressive,” said Dr. Robert Nanney, chair of the mass media and strategic communication department, in his presentation of the award. “She has a passion for empowering females and minorities to push beyond stereotypical jobs and reach their full potential.”
“I am honored to be selected for this departmental award, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UT Martin,” Presson said.
Presson encouraged students to begin building their personal networks. “Your network is your net worth,” she said. She said she still relies on the relationships she built as an undergraduate at the university.
Taylor, a 2011 graduate and now digital art and design teacher at Rossview High School in Clarksville, is the department’s inaugural recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award. She is also the first visual communications and media design graduate to be recognized for professional achievements by the department.
Dr. Tracy Rutledge, professor of mass media and strategic communication, presented Taylor with the award and recalled her enthusiasm for giving back to the department.
“Three words come to mind when I think of Jennifer…energy, effort and evolution,” said Rutledge.
“Three words come to mind when I think of Jennifer…energy, effort and evolution,” said Rutledge. Taylor continues to play an important role in the department by serving on the department’s Advisory Board and as an adjunct professor.
Presson and Taylor join a group of alumni award-winners that includes CNN host and contributor Van Jones, longtime Oprah producer Terry Goulder, Hilton Hotel Vice President for Corporate Communications Kent Landers and John Denton, beat writer for the St. Louis Cardinals.
During the awards ceremony, 37 mass media and strategic communication students won scholarships and awards totaling almost $14,000.
For more information, contact the Department of Mass Media and Strategic Communication at 731-881-7546.