Last week, I was very pleased to have been included in the Samford University Journalism & Mass Communication departmental E-newsletter, Monday Morning Memo. Often the MMM includes a short testimonial from alumni as a means to encourage current students and to allow for networking among its graduates. I was happy to write about how I benefited from this quirky department and how my time spent there aids my current role as Resource Director with Campus Outreach.
Alumnus Spotlight: Jon Elam (2001)
Hello, my name is Jon and I'm a production junkie.
Before arriving at Samford, I knew I liked to design and enjoyed writing, but I thought myself too mainstream to be an art major and yet too unique to be a mere business major. Advertising seemed enough of a mix of capitalism and creativity to be enjoyable and also to provide a job upon graduation after dropping a pretty penny on a private-school higher education.
I believe God sometimes enjoys irony as much as we lowly men do.
Now, almost 15 years after graduation, I still do not have that coveted job that makes my higher education cost worth it...or maybe I do? Divine irony has ordained my vocation as a support-funded missionary ever since 10 months after graduation. I work with Campus Outreach in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and I love it.
The JMC department at Samford truly was a great fit for me. The academic rhetoric of a liberal arts university was inspiring. However, I had a craving to do something. I love to do, complete, make, refine and produce. Yes, I am a self-diagnosed production junkie. So I loved the hands-on, project-heavy JMC advertising track. I freely admit that I did not have a traditional exam the last two semesters of my college career. Those countless hours spent in computer labs and group meetings to get projects done... that was the life!
It was the mentoring of JMC professors Dr. Melissa Tate, Dr. Jon Clemmensen, Dr. Dennis Jones, Dr. David Shipley, Dr. Julie Williams, other adjunct faculty and loving JMC department regulars that made my impulse to produce into a skilled capability to produce something that actually had content and quality for the audience it was directly toward.
I really enjoyed advertising, my internships and the Advertising Federation competitions. It all seemed like the type of job I wanted and the type of atmosphere that a guy who loved Christ could go into and have relationships that extended beyond the normal surface-level, business culture. That would be my future: a creative/production career in this non-status-quo field. So, since that would be my long-term future, it made total sense (to me) to go overseas to serve God and experience non-American life for a few years before my professional reality began.
A two-year term in Brazil turned into five years, then longer, and before I realized it, ministry became my calling and Brazil became my home. I spent several years as a campus staff member, but most recently I have been serving as Resource Director, taking charge of the administrative and operations side of our field team for both our American and Brazilian staff.
However, my time spent preparing for advertising was not wasted. I really do believe that the well-rounded education and preparation I had as an effective communicator has served me so well as a missionary. From coordinating external and internal communications, to financial reports, and all the way to editing resources in Portuguese, I thank Samford JMC's courses and staff for helping me produce quality material communicated in an effective manner. I use my training as a communicator so that Brazilian college students can investigate the person of Jesus Christ in their own language and context.
Obrigado e abraços a todos!
Jon Elam is from Chattanooga, TN., and lives in Belo Horizonte, Brazil with his Brazilian bride Tathiana and their 2-year-old son Isaac. He serves as Resource Director for the Belo Horizonte region of Campus Outreach where he coordinates the U.S. and Brazilian administration and operations for his staff team. You can find more information about his ministry at www.jonelam.net.