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Getting Their Diplomas this Month, Sarah Rodhouse and Hayley Dwy Have Set Themselves Apart

By Keith Morelli

Sarah Rodhouse and Hayley Dwy

TAMPA (August 10, 2020) -- Of all the USF business graduates who walked across the virtual stage this weekend, two stand out. They both started in the Living Learning Community as part of the Zimmerman Advertising Program five years ago. But they chose to start master’s degree coursework while still undergrads and now are the first to complete the dual-degree program.

Hayley Dwy and Sarah Rodhouse opted to go beyond the four-year bachelor’s degree plan and went into the unique four-plus-one-year plan that was the brainchild of Jordan Zimmerman, advertising magnate for whom the program was named. The result: Rodhouse and Dwy earned two degrees from two colleges in five years. That allowed them to take three years of undergraduate advertising, marketing and business and communications courses and spend their senior year and one extra year taking graduate courses. They graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business advertising in 2019 and a master’s degree in advertising from the College of Arts and Sciences this year.

Of their cohort, they are the first and so far only ones, to complete the four-plus-one program.

“What drew me in to joining ZAP was the four-plus-one option for grad school,” said Dwy. “Since getting my master's was always a part of my plan, I thought it was a great opportunity to complete it in one year. During my four years of undergrad with ZAP, I found my true passion was in advertising research, so when I learned the master's program was research-based, I was even more excited to continue my education.”

She said the program provided her with more opportunities and learning experiences that she would not have received in an undergraduate program.

“Having both a business and communications background,” she said, “has given me a well-rounded knowledge of advertising and marketing.”

She is currently in the job-hunting market for advertising positions in the Tampa Bay area, she said.

“The pandemic has added another barrier to overcome as I'm entering the workforce for the first time,” she said, “but as a ZAP graduate, I feel more motivated and prepared to start my career than ever.”

Rodhouse said the four-plus-one degree was something she decided on during her first year at USF.

“I love the idea of having one degree through business and another through mass communications because I feel like that encompasses the whole concept of ZAP: having both the creative and analytical sides,” she said. “I wanted to stand out among my peers by having a well-rounded education that would open up more doors for my future. I loved that the master’s degree had a focus in research, because the undergraduate degree does not dive into it very much.”

What impressed Rodhouse about the program was the emphasis on research and analytics.

“I feel as if I have a much better understanding of the importance of these topics and how to conduct and analyze them properly,” she said. “I also really enjoyed the small class sizes, professors who really cared about us and our learning and the hands-on learning through the applied project.”

She too is in a job-hunting mode, as the pandemic has made it difficult to land a position.

“My plans for the future are to get a job at an advertising agency or marketing department of a company,” she said, “preferably in research and strategy.”

Carol Osborne, a marketing instructor and director of the ZAP program, said that from the beginning, Dwy and Rodhouse were all in, as they watched fellow ZAP graduates go on to study for master’s degrees in other disciplines, switch to other majors or enter the job market after four years.

“Our very first dual-degree graduates of ZAP finished the entire four-plus-one program after five years full of energy, excitement and the ability to endure some bumps in the road,” Osborne said. “They took on the Living Learning Community, study abroad in London (Sarah) and Paris (Hayley), their courses, a Zimmerman Advertising internship on the Office Depot account and a marketing internship at Bloomin’ Brands.

“They mentored all four succeeding cohorts, worked on USF’s AAF National Student Advertising Competition team for Ocean Spray, participated in Ad Club and prepared briefs, brand discovery, big ideas, creative executions, media plans and campaigns.

“It feels great to see some of our best students in this program, which throws a huge challenge at them, succeed if they stay focused on the prize,” Osborne said. “Their accomplishments, knowledge, skills and experience will open doors several stories above entry-level.

“We knew when we reconfigured ZAP to a business degree in 2014 to align with Jordan Zimmerman’s vision of infusing the advertising major with business courses that it would take a certain kind of analytical, slightly right-brained student who doesn’t run screaming from statistics, calculus, accounting and finance,” she said. “Congratulations to Hayley and Sarah but also to Jordan for realizing his dream for the program to balance creativity and analytics, advertising strategy and creative execution.”