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Communications Project with Cal State LA

By Susan Kujawa
Posted: 06/02/2023

Dr. Kate Kurtin is a professor in the Communication Studies department at California State University Los Angeles and an advisor for the student run marketing agency, ZenX-LA. She is invested in the career potential of her students. Before receiving a PhD in Mass Communication from the University of Connecticut, Dr. Kurtin earned her Master’s degree in Advertising from Boston University.  Boston U has a 100% job placement rate for their graduates. As Dr. Kurtin explains, “When I came to Cal State LA, I made a promise to our students to work toward that 100% job placement rate. The key to that for me is real-world experience and opportunities for portfolio building.”

At Cal State LA the majority of the students are persons of color.  Many of them receive financial aid; some hold down jobs while working toward their degree.  The students are dedicated to getting the job of their dreams via the Cal State program.  It is Dr. Kurtin’s vision to give them real life opportunities to develop their skills and build their portfolios.

Pasadena Village's Executive Director, Katie Brandon, learned about Dr. Kurtin’s portfolio building project and saw an opportunity to get some much needed marketing assistance. When Dr. Kurtin shared about the pro bono portfolio, Katie saw an opportunity to provide multi-generational interactions between our members and the students. 

After meeting with a group of Village members, it was decided that the students should focus on the Village's need for volunteer drivers.  Some Pasadena Village members no longer drive and rely on volunteers to take them to medical appointments, shopping, etc. Many Village members volunteer to drive other members, but as we age, we see the need for younger drivers. The question is – how do we attract these younger drivers to the Village?

The students were able to choose from the pool of organizational applicants and four ranked Pasadena Village’s project as their priority. Milagritos (Mila) Godina, Jocelyn Gomez, Emmily Mendoza, and Samantha (Sam) Castellanos were matched with Pasadena Village.  Mila was assigned as the Account Manager, and she initially met with Katie and Priyanka Kumar, Pasadena Village’s Member Services and Volunteer Coordinator. From February through May, the students met monthly to delve into Pasadena Village’s current marketing, research competition, create a SWOT analysis, social media plan, and printed flyers to distribute in the community.

They also visited Pasadena Village and enjoyed table tennis with the Ping Pong Pals. They learned how some members of the Village depend on volunteers for some of their driving needs. All four of the students even volunteered at the Volunteer Appreciation Lunch! 

The students' campaign focused on recruiting drivers from two audiences. The first audience consisted of people between the ages of 40 to 70 or older.  The second audience consisted of those between 20 and 40 years old.  The students used information from their research as a guide to create eye-catching flyers that attracted both target audiences.  They created handouts and posts that showcased the Village's mission and highlighted the need for volunteer drivers. Explained, Mila, “Although our ultimate goal is to gain volunteer drivers, we kept in mind spreading the Village's mission.”

At the end of the project the students presented a final campaign portfolio complete with research, background information, creative samples of flyers, marketing materials, cost estimates, and timelines. Stay tuned to see Pasadena Village implement their marketing plan and attract more volunteer drivers. If you are interested in learning more about our Transportation program, please contact Priyanka Kumar at

The Village owes a debt of gratitude to Cal State LA and the dedicated students of their marketing consulting project.

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