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Lauren Ryan and Camden Weber

Our Campus Celebrities for this week are none other than Ithaca College’s leading ladies in the communications industry. They were both selected for the extremely competitive New York Women in Communication Foundation Scholarships, representing some of the best “Parkies”our school has to offer. Check out their bios and inside scoop on the scholarship and 2013 Matrix Awards!

Lauren Ryan is a freshman IMC Major from Hawley, PA and Camden Weber is a sophomore CMD major and Italian minor from Milford, CT. 

How did you find out about the NYWICI Scholarships?

Lauren: I found out about the scholarship my senior year of high school. I was spending my days looking up scholarships like it was my job, so one day I typed “communications scholarships” into fastweb and found it that way.

Camden: I joined Ithaca College Women in Communications professional club because of my interest in the communications industry. I love the meetings and during one, I was introduced to the scholarship. It sounded like an incredible opportunity and I wanted more financial aid, so I gave it a shot!

What was it like being interviewed by such powerful women in the communications industry?

Lauren: I’ve been interviewed twice by the foundation board. The first time, I was horribly nervous! I went in thinking that the 9 ladies on the foundation board would be sitting at a long table in front of me and I would be sitting in a lone chair in front of them as they grilled me. But, as it turns out, that was the complete opposite of how it went. We all sat at a round table, they were so warm and welcoming (they even offered me lunch!) and right after the first question was asked, I felt all of my nervousness melt away.

For my second interview, even though I had gotten to know the foundation board really well, I was still nervous. Even though I went in knowing that they liked me and believed in me enough to give me a scholarship the year before, I almost felt like I had more expectations to live up to. But, yet again, I was just freaking myself out. Instead, the interview was like chatting with old friends and it went really great!

Camden: To say that the interview process was intimidating is an understatement. I was interviewed by a panel of ten amazing women in the industry and I was incredibly nervous. The boardroom was warm and inviting, the women were all snacking on jelly beans, cookies and cake when I walked in. They were more than willing to share and actually forced me to take cookies home to my family! After 35 minutes of wonderful conversation and laughter, I had to leave but I really didn’t want to. These women were hysterical and so accomplished which made the in-person interview an absolute delight.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the scholarship?

Lauren: The first year I won the scholarship, I found out because my parents called me at work after they had seen my name on the website. I immediately started jumping up and down and screaming. It was an amazing feeling to know that these accomplished women genuinely believed in me and it was complete validation of all of the hard work I had done.

The second year, I got a call from Susan Schulz (the foundation board president) telling me that I had won the NYWICI Alumna Award of Excellence Scholarship. I couldn’t stop smiling and as she went on to tell me that they picked me because they felt like I was an embodiment of the organization, I was near the point of tears from excitement. Again, knowing that these women believed in me enough to represent their organization meant the absolute world to me.

Camden: I had my interview on the Friday during the first weekend of our spring break. Once I finished the interview, I was told that I’d be informed of the panel’s decision ‘within a week.’ That week was terrible. Spring break wasn’t a break because I was so anxious the entire time. 
I received the call at 4:30pm on Friday from Maria Ungaro, the Executive Director of NYWICI. She told me that I won and congratulated me; I hung up the phone and (as embarrassing as it sounds) I immediately burst into tears. I was so happy that I was dancing around my house with my family. It was amazing.

What was it like attending the Matrix Awards?

Lauren: Both years, it was absolutely AMAZING! To make this not a novel, I’ll just talk about this year’s Matrix Awards. The whole Matrix experience starts when you get the first email from our Mother Hens and we get to start introducing ourselves to all of the other scholarship winners. Then, before the Matrix Awards you go to a personal stylist to pick out your Matrix outfit (this year we were outfitted by Ann Taylor). Then, the Saturday before Matrix all of the scholarship winners have a sleepover at the Waldorf Astoria, which is a night filled with way too much food, a lot of laughs and it’s where you start building a NYWICI sisterhood.

This year, the whole entire Matrix experience was surreal. We started our day off being interviewed on the Today Show, which was absolutely incredibly. Then, we go straight into hair & make-up (in case we didn’t already feel like celebrities!). After that, we do a practice for the awards (we happened to be going in right after Joan Rivers, so she stopped and said hello and even gave us the Joan Rangers approval!). Then it’s off to the VIP room where we got to hang out with people like Ryan Seacrest (who actually stopped to talk to, introduce himself and take a picture with each one of us), IMAN, Joanna Coles, and Mindy Grossman. Then, the awards start! This year, in terms of presenters and honorees, it was a really amazing year. Everyone who spoke was funny, intelligent and absolutely inspiring. Then, about half way through the awards ceremony, the scholarship winners go on stage and they played a video montage of “Where Will They Be in 2033?”. A feeling I will never forget for as long as I live is standing on that stage having over 1,000 people in the communications industry applaud for us. As I said before, it’s complete validation that all of the hard work I’ve done has paid off and it’s the most humbling experience I’ve ever had. Then, post Matrix, we go to the after party and it really gives the scholarship winners a chance to connect with foundation board, the other scholarships winner’s families and other NYWICI members.

Camden: The scholarship is so much more than just the Matrix Awards, not the Matrix Awards weren’t AMAZING!!!! We had the pleasure of going on a paid shopping spree to Ann Taylor to pick up an outfit for the awards ceremony. My stylist’s name was Kristina, and she was great! The Saturday before Matrix Monday, all of the scholarship winners had a sleepover in a suite at the Waldorf=Astoria hotel, where the event would be held. I guess it wasn’t really SLEEPover because sleeping was something we didn’t really do… we played games, chatted, laughed and ate A LOT of food. We officially began our bond that night.

I don’t think I can describe it better than Lauren. The day of the Matrix is so incredible. My parents and I spent Sunday night in the city because we had to wake up at 5:30 to get ready for my appearance on the TODAY show with the other winners! We met Matt Laurer, Savannah Guthrie and others and it was incredible. 
After that, we went back to the Waldorf=Astoria and had our hair and make-up re-done for the event. It was the real star treatment.
Then, we did a brief rehearsal for the event and practiced our entrance and exit onto the stage. Following our practice, we went to the VIP reception where we hung out with, met and took pictures with stars like Joan and Melissa Rivers, Iman, Ryan Seacrest and Joanna Coles (among many others.) 
Then the awards began with an introduction from emcee Joan Rivers – who didn’t miss an opportunity to poke fun at someone or swear. She was a riot. 
After she finished her bit, the honorees were presented their awards, and each speech was truly inspiring. Many of them spoke directly to the scholarship winners and urged us to follow our dreams because we “can do anything.” It was our time to shine onstage about halfway through the event. WEtv created a “Where will they be in 2033” video which featured pictures of all of us and our dream jobs. We all stood on stage for about 5 minutes while a room of 1,100 inspiring, talented, driven and successful people clapped and applauded US. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life thus far. 
We returned to our seats afterwards and once the event was over, we mingled with some of the guests, presenters and honorees.

Later that day, we went to Hearst Tower and attended the VIP Matrix After Party where we networked with top executives across the communications industry, and some of the matrix honorees as well. We were on the 44th floor of this tower and could see all of Manhattan. I felt so powerful and accomplished. The entire weekend was like a dream – it was movie-like. I wish I could relive it over and over again.

Overall, the day is amazing, surreal, and incredible and everything you would expect it to be times a thousand million.

How has the scholarship impacted you so far?

Lauren: I am totally not kidding when I say this scholarship has changed my life. When I was in high school and decided I wanted to go into communications, I knew it was the profession I wanted to do, but I had my doubts about whether it was the profession I was fit for. I remember driving into the city for the scholarship sleepover my first year winning and as I watched the trees and farms turn into the city landscape, I knew my life was about to change for good, and I was right. Winning this scholarship told me, yes, this is the profession you were meant to do and it gave me the confidence to come into college knowing that I could pursue my dreams. Along with that, it gave me a group of women that I call mentors and friends that support me and believe in me and I know that I can always rely on. It’s also given my two incredible sisterhoods, both the Class of 2012 and 2013 scholarship winners. Not picking favorites or anything, but this year, I felt a connection with the scholarship winners like I never have with another group of people. To connect with girls who are as driven, intelligent, funny, talented, beautiful inside and out and passionate as these girls are, is such an incredible experience (ask Camden, we’re literally all obsessed with each other). I will always be eternally grateful for everything that NYWICI has given to me.

Camden: This scholarship is one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. On personal, social and professional levels, I am forever a changed person. Winning this scholarship, and having the support of a network of amazing and intelligent women saying that I can accomplish my dreams is the most amazing feeling. Being an NYWICI scholarship winner has given me faith in myself and in my abilities to achieve my goals. Lauren is right…. We are all obsessed with each other. My NYWICI scholarship sisters will forever be in my heart and I cannot wait to see them and collaborate with them in the future. Our bond and friendships are so strong after spending just over 36 hours together. I love each and every one of them! They are all so driven and passionate, it is an amazing feeling to be included in a group of such amazing women.

What is your dream job?

Lauren: My dream job is to one day own a public relations firm (NYWICI’s “Where Will They Be in 2033” had me owning “Ryan Communications”, so let’s hope they’re onto something!). Along with that, since I’m really into fashion, my other dream job is to one day own a fashion coordination company that hosts benefit fashion shows to raise money for non-profits around the world.

Camden: How do you think the scholarship will help you get there?
I am not exactly sure what my dream job is because I really can’t choose! Every field in the communications industry is so interesting and fulfilling. I am so excited to explore the field in the years to come. During this weekend I was able to network with amazing people, and I landed an internship at NBC for this summer. I am going to learn so much and hopefully narrow down exactly where I want to go within the industry. NBC is the iconic American media company and a place that I definitely want to end up in the future. 

How do you think the scholarship will help you get there?

Lauren: As I mentioned before, the scholarship has given me the confidence to know that I can do anything I set my mind to. It’s also given me two amazing sisterhoods and a network of amazingly talented communications professionals who believe in me 150%, and with a support system like that, I can’t see how I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my dreams.

Camden: I am lucky enough to have my foot in the door thanks to NYWICI and the wonderful sisterhood I am apart of. 
Being supported by these incredible people has given me the drive to strive and persevere through anything. Winning this scholarship has proved to me that anything is possible if you work hard and aren’t afraid to go for the gold.

My name is Lauren Mazzo and I'm a sophomore Journalism student at Ithaca College. I have a huge sweet tooth, love to travel and am on the Ithaca College Cheerleading team. Go Bombers! Check out more about me at http://about.me/laurenmazzo
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