Dawn (Vaughn) Hutchison is a senior director of communications for business administration at Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia. Her education from Ball State in communications and advertising has allowed her to lead a gratifying career with much diversity. Dawn has worked for over 34 brands  including McDonald’s, Georgia-Pacific, Emory University, Toyota, John Deer, Verizon, Coca-Cola and many more.

Time at Ball State 

Ball State’s advertising accreditation set itself apart from other schools. The fact that many of the professors had worked in advertising  agencies before they entered higher education, made them an invaluable resource to Dawn. “They had held positions that I dreamed to have one day.”  

Her professors were able to share ‘real-world’ experiences and provide knowledge beyond what the textbooks contained. Ball State also had top notch technology. Dawn expressed that it was foreign going into the workforce after leaving Ball State where the technology wasn’t as up to date as she was used to. “In some cases, the real world felt behind Ball State.” The advertising program itself was rigorous and challenging, but to Dawn this made the switch to her professional career seem easy. “The program forced you to do the job you were going to do after graduation. This real-life experience was incredibly helpful.”  Students in the program were also required to build a physical portfolio of the advertising and copywriting campaigns completed in the 4-year program. The portfolio was graded and could be used for future interviews. Many of her prospective employers were surprised to see a recent graduate with so much tangible experience.. Ball State gave her a unique advantage over her peers by provided her with much more experience, training, and knowledge than other schools.

One of Dawn’s most memorable experiences from her time at Ball State was her senior year advertising campaigns class, where the entire semester was focused on developing a single advertising campaign from start to finish. This project built up many of Dawn’s professional skills including team collaboration, event planning, presenting, time management, and much more. The day of the presentation, Dawn and her peers presented at an off-site venue to the university president, the dean of the communications department, and many advertising professors. Although this was a demanding and challenging experience, it prepared her immensely for her future career and gave her much confidence before graduation.

“After our presentation, I was on top of the world. The experience really validated my four years of hard work and it was a great accomplishment for me.” – Dawn Hutchison

Life After College

Soon after graduation Dawn moved to Atlanta, where she knew not a soul  but  she was excited and opportunistic that something would come her way. After a year of working at an automotive advertising agency, she received an opportunity to work for the McDonald’s account  which included work  on the ’96 Olympics. The experience on a global brand with a global spotlight during the Olympics turned out to be a launching point for her career.

For the next ten years, Dawn would work for many agencies in the Atlanta area including BBDO. During this time she gained valuable experience working for accounts such as Coca-Cola, the Peace Corp, Cingular Wireless, Panama tourism, reaestate.com, the IRS, and many more. She had enjoyed the brand diversity she was getting, as well as, climbing the advertising ladder and building lasting relationships along the way.

Later in her career, Dawn transitioned  to the client side of advertising by joining Cox Communications.In this role as Director of Brand Advertising, she oversaw the multiple advertising agencies creating the marketing campaigns for the company.  In this role she travelled often to Los Angeles to oversee the television production campaigns. The telecommunications field was quickly developing during this time frame and enjoyed being part of the future of how people consumed media.

In 2012, Dawn had the opportunity to, once again, work on a global brand, this time for Alcon  pharmaceutical, Here, Dawn created B2B websites for opthamologists by working in their global digital marketing division with international offices in Denmark, Germany, and India.

Eventually, Dawn found her way to Emory University where she now serves senior communications director for business operations. For the past five years, Dawn has focused on how Emory communicates with students, faculty and staff, including leading the COVID-19 communications response team during the pandemic. She continues to identify communication opportunities within the administrative units that support the university.  She consults with internal stakeholders to develop content to align with the university brand, best practices, and strategic framework.

Looking back on her over her almost 30 years career, Dawn expressed that she is very grateful for the experience, knowledge gained, and all the relationships that have been made along the way.

For Current Students 

“Experience is everything” – Dawn Hutchison

Dawn urges all current advertising and communications students at Ball State to try to gain as much experience as possible whether that be volunteering for a local business or documenting your class work to show prospective employers. “The more experience you can gain now, the better you set yourself up for success later.” For her, Ball State was a great launching pad for her career and she believes that all students who go through BSU’s coursework will be well prepared for their future career.

“Be a sponge. Learn as much as you can during your college years and look for opportunities around every corner.” – Dawn Hutchison