Katie Snyder does not wait for opportunity; she creates it. In four years at The University of Tulsa, Snyder has established a legacy of not only finding her place in nearly every TU community, but also making TU her home.
Leaving her hometown, Des Moines, Iowa, Snyder launched a new adventure in Tulsa. Without knowing anyone, “It was hard to put myself out there, but it is something that you absolutely must do if you want to get the full experience out of college,” Snyder said.
Her communications prowess was triggered her first year by assisting the TU Athletic Department. From softball to basketball, Snyder did media relations for more than 500 games. As a freshman, Snyder won an award from the Association of Women in Communications based on her sports and public relations experience.
Through the TU Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC), Snyder interned at the Tulsa Sports Commission for class credit. From the tourism perspective, Snyder learned the importance of room availability in hotels and even how to set up soccer nets for the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship. “It was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done,” she confided.
Vince Trinidad, the executive director of the Tulsa Sports Commission, described Snyder as a “dynamo” and explained that her internship coincided with major national-level sporting events. No matter the challenge, “her enthusiasm and energy knows no limits,” Trinidad said.
Throughout her TU career, Snyder interned at Propeller Communication and Saxxum. She advertised for events like Tulsa’s Great Raft Race, Tulsa Oktoberfest and Tulsa Tough. It was not long until the Media Studies faculty found a rising star.
Media Studies adjunct faculty member Bill Hinkle knew Snyder was special on the first day of class. “There is nobody that is more committed, more polished and more driven to be successful than Katie Snyder, nobody,” Hinkle said.
With Hinkle’s mentorship, Snyder discovered advertising along with professional opportunities to test her advertising skills. The National Student Advertising Competition allows students to create advertising campaigns for a national company and present them at a conference. As a sophomore, Snyder was the runner-up presenter for a Pizza Hut campaign, which meant she was tasked to memorize the entire script. On the first day of rehearsal, “She shows up Monday and had already memorized all 20 minutes, of everybody’s part. That never happens,” Hinkle said.
The following year, Snyder led the team in an advertising campaign for Snapple. Because Snapple is in a precarious glass bottle, grocery stores place them on the bottom shelf, and with the TU team’s tagline, “bottoms up,” Snyder knew they were taking a risk. To glorify the bottom shelf, they even rewrote the words to “Friends in Low Places.” Snyder’s team chose humor to highlight where customers can find Snapple. Unfortunately, the judges were not amused.
“I’m proud that when we failed, it wasn’t because we came in with a mediocre idea that could be easily overlooked. We came in with something bold that makes them think differently about their product. I think that that’s our job,” Snyder explained.
The Snapple defeat did not deter Snyder, and she received the highly competitive Stickell Internship, which showcases the 16 best advertising students in the nation. The internship included placement in a top public relations firm. Snyder worked for PulsePoint Group in Austin, Texas, which focuses on digital consulting and crisis communication. Snyder’s first client was a Japanese energy company, which had a nuclear disaster in the past. When it comes to a crisis, “always have a human voice and be quick and decisive with your communication,” Snyder said.
Snyder flexed her public relations skills for TU in the NOVA Fellowship, which is managed by Associate Professor of Marketing Charles Wood. NOVA helps students problem solve and bring big ideas into fruition. “I tend to have big dreams, and I don’t know how to make them happen,” Snyder said. Her innovative project was to bring TEDx talks to TU. When Woods heard the TEDx plan, “I believe I shouted ‘Yes’ and threw my arms up like they had scored a touchdown,” he said.
After months of planning, Snyder interviewed 40 speaker candidates, and with the theme of “innomagine,” which combines innovation and imagination, TU held its first TEDx. The event was so popular that TEDx has agreed to be an annual TU event. “It’s a gift to TU that I get leave when I graduate,” Snyder said.
Snyder has worked as a university ambassador, freshman orientation leader, resident assistant, and she also won an Outstanding Senior Award. Snyder credits her accomplishments to supportive faculty and TU’s friendly environment. She advises incoming freshman to “jump in and take advantage of all there is here.”
The University of Tulsa is Snyder’s home away from home: “We’ve got enough for it to be home to anybody, and if you don’t have it, you can create it.”