When Jennifer Collins was a student at American University School of Communication (AU SOC), some of the most valuable experiences she had were outside the classroom. Internships, networking opportunities, site visits were all valuable. “It gave me a seat at the table,” she said. She used that seat to bring her perspective as a Black woman to the table, which was valuable for her but also for the companies she worked with.
Now, the successful entrepreneur is the President & CEO of JDC Events and has made an endowed gift to SOC that will allow generations of students of color the opportunities she had and opens the door to many more.
“We are experiencing significant change in this country and have been for some time,” said Collins. “That’s why it’s more important than ever for a diversity of voices and perspectives to be prepared to participate in the conversations.”
Collins has been giving back to SOC for years, in many ways. She mentors students, speaks as a guest lecturer, served as an Alumni Board member, SOC Council member, donated a named space to the McKinley building, and now leads the SOC Change Can’t Wait campaign committee.
SOC Dean Sam Fulwood III said, “Jennifer Collins represents what is best about American University and, especially, SOC. With her generous gift, she’s making it possible for others to follow in her footsteps and achieve equal or greater success in the years to come.”
As a student, Collins was busy. She fell in love with event planning and as an intern planned her first high-profile event, an audition for the TV show “Star Search” with Ed McMahon at Pentagon City Mall. She planned her own events as President of the Public Relations Student Society of America and interned for public relations firm Hager Sharp, where she worked with PR trailblazer Susan Hager, the founder of Hager Sharp, a co-founder and first national president of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), an organization which Collins herself later led for the Greater Washington, D.C. area
When she thinks about the students who will benefit from her endowment, it inspires her. “There were so many people who helped me along the way to grow and share in new experiences. So this is more than a gift – it’s a mission."