Gabrielle Edgerson ’13 ~ Dance, Diversity, and Washington, D.C.
Creativity is the lifeblood of Spring Hill College alumna Gabrielle Edgerson ’13. The New Orleans, La., native, who grew up in the Seventh Ward, has loved the arts, language, and dance as long as she can remember.
Before enrolling at Spring Hill College, Edgerson studied at both the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and McDonogh #35 Senior High School. Edgerson graduated fifth in her class at McDonogh #35, and received the Presidential Honor Award and a Certificate of Artistry in Dance from NOCCA as the school’s only level four dance student.
After receiving an early admissions letter from Spring Hill College, it took only one trip to campus for Edgerson to decide that the Hill was the perfect fit.
“I was immediately intrigued by the small, close knit family-oriented community and beautiful campus,” says Edgerson. “After visiting and receiving a scholarship, it was a done deal. I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.”
Edgerson, who studied public relations and advertising at SHC, is currently broadening her skill set as a paid intern with American Advertising Federation (AAF) in Education Services and Mosaic Center in Washington, D.C.
The Mosaic Center, Edgerson explains, develops programs to address diversity in the advertising industry. Current efforts include tackling issues that hinder diversity and multiculturalism, encouraging corporations to adopt diversity practices, and recognizing businesses which strive to maintain a diverse workforce.
Dr. Sharee Broussard, associate professor of communications arts, says that Edgerson was well prepared for this exciting career opportunity.
“Gabrielle worked on many projects at Spring Hill, including her senior seminar, which promoted diversity in its many forms, not just in reference to race,” says Dr. Broussard. “While at SHC, she was engaged with local professionals and completed multiple internships with agencies, small businesses and nonprofits.”
Those internships include serving in a social media and marketing role for New Orleans' largest independent retailer, Feet First. She also interned at Red Square Agency her last semester at Spring Hill College and completed a work-study in social media and public relations at the Mobile, Ala. advertising agency, wellbornIdeas, where she wrote content for BayFest, Dauphin Street's Beer Festival, and Wintzell's Oyster House.
Stacy Wellborn, president of wellbornIdeas, director of marketing and administration for Wintzell’s, and an adjunct professor at Spring Hill College, recalls Gabrielle as a smart, dedicated young woman.
“Gabrielle has a bright future in front of her,” says Wellborn. “As an intern with wellbornIdeas, she jumped right in and made an impact from her first day. Her experience and creativity quickly gained her a respected and trusted position in our office.”
As a freshman at Spring Hill College, Edgerson immediately immersed herself in campus events and activities, writing for SHC's Freshmen on The Hill blog and later being published in The Motley online literary magazine. Edgerson became captain of the Showstoppers and SHC Dance Team, tutored at Pillans Middle School, and served as a member of P.R.I.D.E. and AdPro.
"Gabrielle Edgerson stands out for her dedication to social justice," says Dr. Jamie Franco-Zamudio, assistant professor of psychology at Spring Hill College. "I met Gabrielle during her first year at SHC, and I was impressed by her enthusiasm for helping others and desire to excel academically. I was honored to be a small part of her senior seminar, When Worlds Collide, A Celebration of Diversity. Gabrielle brought together a team of speakers, organizations, and community members to engage in a collaborative dialogue around intergroup relations. I was impressed by her organization skills as well as her professional, thoughtful presentation."
After receiving an award for her exemplary senior seminar work, Edgerson graduated from Spring Hill College, but was able to return to campus just a short time later.
“I was thrilled to come back to SHC to give a presentation to the class of 2017. I discussed online brand image during the Technology and Culture portion of LEAP--a program that connects academic learning with real life,” says Edgerson. “It was great to be back on the Hill and reconnect with everyone. I make it a point to keep in touch with my friends of SHC scattered all over the country.”
Back in Washington, concurrently with her work at the American Advertising Federation, Edgerson interns as a programming and production intern at Dance Place, an organization dedicated to building a community of artists, audiences, and students through high quality performances, commissions, training and educational programs.
She is also rehearsing for Hamdan: Through the Gate of Tears, a modern ballet celebrating one man’s journey, commissioned by the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and choreographed by Ray Mercer. Hamdan makes its world debut at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium on April 11.
Edgerson credits her time at Spring Hill College for allowing her to explore new creative outlets and holistic growth.
“If it wasn't for trying new things, I would have never been able to grow into the individual I am and still in the process of becoming,” says Edgerson. “Those experiences were stepping stones to spectacular opportunities. I encourage everyone at Spring Hill College to go out on a limb and try something a little out of their comfort zone.”
Looking to the future, Edgerson is keeping her options open before deciding on a firm career path.
“It seems as though the more I try to pinpoint exactly what I want to do, the more opportunities become available to me,” says Edgerson. “Right now, my ideal job would be to work in the communications or programming department of the company I’d be dancing in.”
In her spare time, Edgerson enjoys exploring Washington, D.C. via Metro, taking dance classes at different studios around the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area, and photographing city street art.