Class Bios

Meet the Jpreneurs of Fall 2014! 

Shelby Jo Fenter I am 22 years old and just finished my undergraduate degree at The University of Mississippi. I played softball at Ole Miss and will always love my Rebels. Hotty Toddy! I am now pursuing my Master’s of Journalism degree at Memphis. I always envisioned I would complete an MBA degree, but I took a public relations course my senior year of college and absolutely fell in love with it. I am excited to begin this journey!

Lori Shull I’m from upstate New York, got my bachelor’s in communication and political science from Goucher College in Baltimore. I got a job at the Watertown Daily Times, a regional NY newspaper just south of Canada, where I nearly froze for three years and learned the value of good snow tires. I moved to Cookeville to take a writing job in the communications and marketing office at Tennessee Tech University three years ago. About a year ago, I was promoted to news director. I’ve been a student at Memphis for almost as long as I’ve been in Tennessee.

Kimberly Exford I currently live in Houston, Texas. I am originally from Atlanta, Georgia, where I completed my undergraduate degree in Mass Communications at the University of West Georgia. Upon graduation, I started working for my current company, a private learning center that specializes in reading and comprehension remediation for children and adults. After moving about seven times since 2010, (Alabama, California, and Tennessee just to name a few),  I have landed in Texas and am currently the Associate Center Director of our Houston learning center. At the completion of this graduate degree, I look forward to making a career change to something more closely related to my degree.

Andrew Doughty is currently a Writer for Next Impulse Sports, a sports and pop culture blog and website. Prior to joining Next Impulse Sports, he worked as a Development Assistant in the Planned Giving office at the University of Colorado, helping facilitate life income gifts, bequests, charitable trusts and other estate gifts. Andrew received his Bachelor of Science degree in Sport Management from the University of Kansas and has also spent time as a Graduate Assistant in Athletics at the University of Minnesota. He currently resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota.​

Nicholas Beshiri I currently live in Athens, GA and work as a Audio, Video, Film And Technology Instructor at Elbert County Comprehensive High School. After working for a year as a teacher I decided to pursue my Master’s of Journalism degree at Memphis. This is my second year in the program and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia in Film Studies and my hope is that this program will make me a better teacher in the classroom as well as lead to new career opportunities in the future.

Cheryl Hayes I was born in the great state of MS. I attended and graduated from Delta State University where I was awarded my undergraduate degree in business administration.  I moved to Memphis in 2002 and worked several administrative temp jobs until I was offered a permanent position at the University of Memphis. I am starting my 12th year at the university now. During my tenure here, I have completed two Masters degrees. Though my background is not journalism, I seek to earn a certificate in entrepreneurial journalism as I feel the knowledge I will learn from this program will be beneficial to my plans to start my own business one day. I have one child who just started her freshman year at MTSU. I like to travel when I can, make lasting moments with my family and friends as often as I can and I love to meet people and learn new things that help me to grow professionally and individually.

Jpreneur Alumni Spring 2014

Ketevan Dolidze  I am from Batumi, Georgia.(The country Georgia, not the state lol). I graduated from MUW in December of 2012 and worked/interned for numerous law and financial firms around Memphis, such as Donati law, Glankler Brown, Dabbous Thomas and Compass Financial Advisors. Growing up, I had a dream of becoming a gymnast but clearly, that dreamed has changed a bit. I always wanted to get into Journalism but was afraid to do so, since English is not my first language. The plan now is to get my IMBA and a Masters of Journalism from the U of M, then apply for a job with the FBI (Possibly do the academy, if all goes well).

I am the biggest nerd and I love to read. The beach makes me the happiest and I miss it the most. When I am not being a total nerd, you can find me outside, hiking or camping and in the gym. I am a total health nut and absolutely love to cook. Though, I never follow the recipes and can never recreate the dish for the second time around. Also, for the first time in 15 years my family was reunited this Christmas. I must admit, that was the biggest “dream come true” for me! My favorite quote – “Love the life you live. Live the life you love.” – Bob Marley.

John Stevenson John Stevenson is a University of Memphis graduate student studying journalism and integrated communications. He also works as a graduate assistant in the journalism department, designing advertisements for the university’s independent, student-run newspaper, The Daily Helmsman. In addition, he interns at International Paper, working in the marketing and communications department. John received his bachelor of arts in journalism and advertising from the University of Memphis in May 2013. In his spare time, he enjoys riding roller coasters, running and exploring cities, namely his favorite: Memphis.

Robin Spielberger I was born and raised in Memphis (every time I say “born and raised,” I hear the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song in my head and must sing through it – i’m not sure what that says about me but it certainly gives away my age).

I received my BA in Journalism, emphasis in Advertising, from the U of M in December of 2003, but the University of Memphis has been a part of my life for what seems like forever.  As some may know, my father is a professor of Journalism at the U of M.  I like to joke that they built the college around him but in all seriousness, It would take an archaeologist to excavate the treasures buried in the stacks of stuff located within his office walls. At the young age of 5,  I began Pre-K at University Churches and then attended Campus School for my elementary education.  Ten years ago, upon completion of my BA, I thought that the University and I had parted ways for good.  However, the universe had other ideas, as I would realize in August of 2013 – just one semester ago.

For the past ten years, I have worked in the Advertising, Public Relations, and Marketing field in one way or another.  From 2003 until the end of 2012, I was the Assistant Executive Director for the Hank Aaron Celebrity Sports Weekend benefiting LeMoyne-Owen College and the United Negro College Fund, raising over $15k at the Banquet Silent Auction,  the Copy and Layout Editor for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the Assistant Director of Production for Earglue by Accurate Communications, an Account Executive for Clear Channel Radio, the Assistant Executive Director for College Media Advisers (now College Media Association), raising the most money through sponsorships and garnering the largest convention attendance in CMA history, the General Manager and Director of Special Events and Marketing for Quetzal Memphis, hosting the largest New Year’s Eve Party in the city of Memphis, and the Co-General Manager and Director of Special Events, Publics Relations, and Marketing for Equestria Restaurant, turning the first profit in its ten year existence.  And then – the owner of Equestria decided to close its doors for good. (If you’re curious about how awesome this restaurant was or to see our acreage and greenhouse where we grew our own produce.  At that point I saw what I thought was as my future, spiraling down the drain of life.  And then it all changed.

In January of 2012, I had the opportunity to work for Ron Paul on his National Campaign as a Youth Activism Coordinator in New Hampshire and then, as the Shelby County Chair.  My life changed.  I was finally able to apply the word “hero” to a person that I knew and understand why it was so important.  I knew now EXACTLY what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

When the Ron Paul campaign ended, I was contacted to work as a Senior Campaign Advisor for a local Congressional Campaign and then had the opportunity to work as the TN and MS Field Representative for The Leadership Institute.

I traveled the states, organizing liberty-minded student groups at colleges in every nook and cranny.  I began the number one Field Rep in Leadership Institute history with the creation of 26 new groups and over 4000 contacts.  I loved every minute of it!  From basically living out of my car and comfort inns, to watching college kids take advantage of the opportunities that I passed up, to helping the liberty movement grow exponentially, and to driving every back road that Tennessee has to offer, I fell in love with liberty and with my home state.

I couldn’t imagine leaving the liberty movement and going back to the world of traditional advertising and public relations.  I finally knew what it meant to use my powers for good, not evil.  Luckily for me, the economy and changing times of journalism decided to help me with that decision and in one wiggle of the nose, all of the jobs disappeared – at least in Memphis anyway.  I was offered the opportunity to work for the Leadership Institute in Washington, DC but just couldn’t bring myself to pay $45K per year to rent and heat a 500 sq. ft. apartment and be a part of the dreaded “beltway,” or move above that Mason-Dixon line to the land of the cold weather – I’m truly a Southern girl at heart.

So, I decided to return to the University of Memphis and get my Master’s in Political and Nonprofit Public Relations.  I hope to work for Rand Paul 2016 upon  graduation in the Spring of 2015.  Unless, I decide to make a run for the Ph.D at NYU or somewhere yet to be determined – I think I just heard my father groan somewhere across town at the sheer thought of supporting me for another 3-5 years.

On a personal note, I love the beach more than anything else in this world – yes, even more than Ron Paul and liberty. Maybe that’s because the beach offers my soul liberty and completes me.  Who knows – maybe I’ll move to St Pete for that Ph.D – at least then my mother will be on “Team Robin” when it comes to supporting me.

When not doing schoolwork, you can find me at home drowning myself in one of the hundred television shows that I’m addicted to (I love Crime dramas – I would love to track serial killers for the FBI) or playing with my Lab/Chow Mix, Morgan le Fay.

I also enjoy cooking, but never seem to find the time these days – unless by cooking you mean throwing things into a crockpot and remembering the occasional stir.  Who am I kidding?!  Most of the time I don’t remember to stir it either.

As a former cheerleader and competitive gymnast, I used to love working out and going to the gym but again, these days I use spare time to shower or sleep.  You know it’s bad when you have to schedule such things on your calendar!

In my other non-existent spare time, I like to trace my family history with and nerd out on old newspaper clippings and other antiquated symbols of days past.

I have a bucket list a mile long – it’s actually no longer a bucket – it’s a giant silo, filled with traveling the parts of the world I have yet to see, skydiving, base jumping, whitewater rafting and kayaking new rivers near and far, owning a horse ranch (I have several blue ribbons from barrel racing and used to train horses), riding every roller coaster ever built, starting my own company, and basically, ruling the world.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”   – Ghandi

Zach Losher My name is Zach Losher, 26. This is my second semester as a graduate student. I received my undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Tennessee in 2010 then worked several odd jobs until deciding to come back to school. My academic interests include internet culture, popular culture, 20th-21st century art/literature, and film. Outside of school I enjoy Game of Thrones, NBA, MLB, and a wide variety of music.

Jennifer Sadler My name is Jen…and I’m an avid believer that my hometown of Memphis, TN is the #gritgrind capital of the world. I graduated in 2012 with my Masters in Journalism and promptly entered a career position as the marketing director of a small, local automobile company. Then, I realized just how much it really sucked to work for a company that worried more about their profits than benefiting the community. I started my own company on my 25th birthday as a present to myself. Then, I was laid off two weeks later. Most would cry…and I’m pretty sure I did. However, this was an opportunity! I built my company over the last year and now Connect Memphis is exactly where I would love for it to be. We work to build products and services that benefit the community and one in particular, the City Box, will be coming out very shortly. Basically, I’m a lover of all things Memphis. I have a 5yr old daughter who reminds me every day that sometimes kids are smarter than me. I hope to launch City Box (the new product of Connect Memphis) to an open reception of people who are interested in purchasing.

Marion Ziegler is a student at a journalism masters program at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany. She is spending a semester abroad at the University of Memphis, taking classes at the journalism and the communication departments. Over the years, Marion has gained a lot of practical experience in German newspapers, news agencies -, such as the German Press Agency -, and online media, hopefully preparing her for her future as a journalist. She has a bachelor’s degree in communication science and film studies.

As it is Marion’s first stay in Memphis and even in the US, she is really excited about almost everything: She has heard a lot about Memphian and American culture, people, studying, shopping, food  – so basically life – and is now curios to find out what will turn out to be true and what will not.

Aidan Galasso Aidan is currently completing his Masters degree at the University of Memphis. He is a graduate assistant in the department and works with the Prof. Otis Sanford, the Hardin Chair of excellence, amongst other duties. Originally from Suffern, NY, he graduated with a B.A. in history from the University of Delaware in 2012 before coming to Memphis. At Delaware Aidan conducted research about political donations from companies involved in the development of the Marcellus Shale and at Memphis he is working on a content analysis of framing in The Colbert Report and The Daily Show. He has been running competitively since the 8th grade and competed for the varsity track and cross-country teams at both Memphis and Delaware. When he is not studying or running his favorite activities include playing guitar and watching sports.

Robert Kohler My name is Robert Kohler, I am a journalism exchange student from Germany. I received my Bachelor of Arts in media and communication science from Ilmenau University of Technology, Germany. In 2012, I started the journalism master’s program at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany. Since I like traveling abroad, I spend one semester at the University of Memphis. I look forward to experiencing journalism education from an American perspective.
In 2010, I studied abroad at Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Lima. I interned at several editorial departments in Germany, such as Deutsche Welle (Germany’s international broadcaster), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (national newspaper in Germany) and ZDF (German television broadcaster). Since it is my first visit to Memphis, I started discovering this great city. Even if riding a bike here is a real challenge sometimes.

Kelsey Semien Kelsey Semien is a multimedia broadcast feature journalist and photojournalist in her fourth year at the University of Memphis. She spent the summer of 2013 in Mainz, Germany, studying abroad at the University of Mainz through the Journalism Department at the University of Memphis. Semien has a passion for capturing and telling the human story. She has produced, anchored and reported for the University of Memphis’ news cast Insight News. The National Association of Black Journalists’ media director and executive assistant  is also a co-host on the online news-magazine The Conversation. Semien also contributes to the New Direction Christian Church Media team and has reported for the hyperlocal MicroMemphis website during the Spring of 2013. She is currently interning at WHBQ FOX 13 for the spring semester of 2014.

Amelia Ables is a second-semester journalism grad student with a PR focus. She also works as a GA in the journalism department. Her undergraduate degrees include a BA in political science and a minor in psychology. As a proud UT alumna, she still bleeds orange, just with a little blue mixed in now. Even though she has only lived in Memphis since August, she dearly loves the city. Especially the food. When she is not spending her days in the Meeman Journalism Building, she is working as a fitness coach at Curves, interning at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis, and drinking wine — although not while doing any of the things mentioned above.

Barry Parks Born and raised in the north Georgia mountains, I received my B.A. in Communications in 1997 from Georgia State University in Atlanta. I worked as a one-man-band television field reporter and fill-in anchor for three years at the now-defunct Channel 10 News in Rome, GA. I also served as a public relations director and grant writer for the Gordon County Government in Calhoun, Georgia. I left the journalism field to work as a professional singer for almost 10 years at the world-famous Chattanooga Choo Choo in Chattanooga, TN. Currently I’m a full-time graduate student on a graduate assistantship, serving as copy editor and business manager for the Newspaper Research Journal. I’m fluent in Spanish and am a big fan of “Dancing with the Stars” and “Rupaul’s Drag Race.”


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