fascinating people > embrace marketing

dallas | CARTER

Among the rows of books and weathered carpeting on the fourth floor of the Clifford Library, the bright, modern ChangeLab Incubator serves as the office of Embrace Marketing and Communications.

What started as an idea for a new experiential learning opportunity resulted in an agency operated by nine students .and project director Joe Ellsworth. Launched on Oct. 12, 2018, Embrace provides services such as market research, brand development and media creation to various clients across Vanderburgh County.

As Embrace is only the second program of its kind in Indiana and the fifth in the nation, many students were interested. Ellsworth recruited and received recommendations from professors across campus.

Eventually, 40 applicants became nine students who fill 10 positions to create a fully functioning agency. Senior Kaylee Bettag, chief executive officer, has the task of taking each team member’s unique skills and cultivating them in order to benefit clients.

As a marketing major, Bettag has always wanted to start her own business. She was excited to be able to use her business knowledge and her passion for leadership as CEO.

“Embrace is the perfect opportunity to combine everything I love,” she said.

While Embrace is a chance for students to explore their interests, it’s ultimately a program meant to cultivate as much real-world business experience as possible. Ellsworth said he hopes Embrace can help students create a bridge between college and professional experiences.

Junior Jesse Stafford-Lacey, creative director, has done just that. He said he has learned to take direction from superiors while also becoming a stronger leader and connecting with clients.

“Embrace is an opportunity to apply everything I learned in classes into a real-life situation,” he said. “It’s something that will set me apart for an employer on a résumé.”

UE is known for hands-on learning, but Bettag said the experience Embrace gives students can’t be found anywhere else. Seeing every aspect of business up close has changed the way she sees herself and the industry.

Stafford-Lacey said he believes each student has been impacted in a positive way. Most importantly, they have become a team.

Both Bettag and Stafford-Lacey cite meeting new people as a highlight of the experience.

They have benefited and learned not only from each other and their clients but also from their adviser, Ellsworth. While Embrace is fully student- run, Ellsworth acts as a guide to make sure the business stays on track and meets its goals.

“[He] creates an open and friendly environment to work in,” Stafford-Lacey said. “He gives excellent direction.”

The amount of students involved in Embrace will expand as the demand of clients does, but Ellsworth said potential employees must understand the level of commitment and professionalism needed to be a member of the team.

“There is no room in this organization for someone who is just along for the ride,” he said. “If we find the right student who can bring value to the agency, we will find a way to utilize their skills.”

A prime example of Embrace’s ideals and impact, Bettag has accepted a job as senior marketing consultant for an agency in Dallas. She credits Embrace with making her confident and knowledgeable enough to land a job above an entry-level position.

“I feel like I’d be a deer in headlights
going into the job market if it weren’t for this experience,” she said. “If I have any success in my career it will partly be due to Embrace.”

Ellsworth hopes to further Embrace’s positive impact. He wants the agency to be a differentiating factor for UE and also a leading example for other schools to begin similar programs.

Members of Embrace have been in contact with students at Stetson University who want to create an agency of their own. The team also plans to collaborate and share ideas with Butler University’s Bright Blue agency.

No matter what projects Embrace takes on, it’s clear that the positive impact and experience it provides is only going to increase from here. For now, the team has a simple goal — to help everyone embrace their full potential.

*In the interest of transparency, we disclose that Dallas Carter is a former employee of Embrace. This article serves to support and spread awareness of a topic that holds interest to UE students, not to promote business.


7 – USA

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5 – Indiana

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Eye Colors

3 – Green

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1 – Hazel

Class Standing

5 – Seniors

4 – Juniors



2 – Marketing

2 – Multimedia

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