The People of Pace Share Their Unusual College Majors

As many content marketers can tell you, there’s no one path that leads to the field of content marketing, or to understanding the makings of a good story. While some of us took the path of tried-and-true majors like journalism or graphic design, others found their way to the agency life through more unconventional means. We asked several Pacers about their educational backgrounds and how it prepared them to tell great stories for our clients. Their answers may surprise you.

Sherri Fording, Account Manager

Classical Theater Performance and Near Eastern Religious Studies at New York University.

“My educational background informs my presentations skills, and on the rare occasion, helps me know how to pray in a variety of ways.

“I spent 13 years in the regional theater and Broadway theater circuit as a professional actress, and my love was getting on a stage and telling a story every night. When I left the theater after having my daughter, I got into marketing because I believe that at its core, marketing is not only storytelling but capturing people on a gut level, discovering what really keeps them up at night and exciting them with a solution.”

Becky Troyer, Managing Editor


Becky Troyer was part of a woodwind quintet named Bloomwinds.

Music (Clarinet and Piano) and Classical Studies (Latin and Greek) at Indiana University.

“I was a double major in great subjects, but was totally unemployable after graduation! Someone said, ‘Hey, you know a lot of Latin. You should become a lawyer or a doctor.’ Law school was shorter [than med school], so that’s where I went. I practiced business and employment law for more than a decade before making the switch to journalism/writing/editing. That legal training—analytical thinking, problem-solving, zeroing in on issues and sorting through facts that support conclusions, managing client accounts—comes in handy no matter what job I’m doing.

“The combination of law and journalism has made me write more concisely, persuasively and clearly. I also learned how to manage multiple complex projects with deadlines. The music background helps soften the edges! Appreciation for the arts, global history and culture comes into play often in my work on the Four Seasons account.”

Adam Braxton, VP of Strategic Insight

Classical Archaeology, with a minor in Anthropology at the University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the motivations, forces and histories that drive people’s lives. Marketing is really, in effect, live anthropology. It has become one of the most powerful forces of motivational change that we have in practice today, both consciously and sub-consciously. And content marketing, where we focus more on the customer’s needs than pushing product, can be even more so. But with great power comes great responsibility, of course.”

Shannon Magann, Art Director

Recreation Management with a concentration in Commercial Recreation and a minor in Art at Appalachian State University.

“Recreation Management is the study of non-profit and commercial properties such as national parks and resorts, and how they run. I got to take classes in city planning, landscaping, hiking, golf course management, event planning and even creating ice breaker/team-building games. I also traveled to Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to study their national parks!

“The things I learned have lent themselves to many of the projects I’ve worked on here at Pace. The knowledge of resorts and non-profits fit in nicely with the travel and leisure clients I’ve worked with. I even got to use my event-planning skills for planning sales meetings back in the day. I think that having the wider view of recreation activities and how they work with communities around the world broadens my creative vision on projects.”

Hollie Thomas, Art Director

Consumer, Apparel and Retail Studies with a minor in Business at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and the University of North Carolina — Greensboro.

Hollie Thomas designed plenty of clothing throughout her time as an undergrad.

Hollie Thomas designed plenty of clothing as an undergrad.

“I designed children’s wear for the last three years before starting at Pace.

“Learning to sew helps my attention to detail and design aesthetic, while studying consumers and retail have really helped with understanding target markets and personas—something I have to rely on every day here. Understanding the manufacturing process for consumer products helps with the marketing aspect, because when you know how an idea is created and gets to the consumer, you can better understand a company’s motive with what they’re trying to sell.

“It also helps me in my work for INVISTA: Having studied textiles makes it all the easier to understand terminology and carpet structure.”

Kari Fellers, Lead Interactive Designer

Architecture at the University of Tennessee.

“Some of my electives were around digital imaging and 3D modeling, which led me to being the online editor for the college of architecture, and eventually led me to new media and working as a digital creative.

“There are several similarities between architecture and interactive. You need a strong foundation to craft an environment that appeals to people. A space that users want to be in—that applies to building and to storytelling.”

Whether you love architecture or the study of textiles, there’s a place for you at Pace. Interested in joining our team? Consider applying for one of our many open positions:

Written by Alex Herring

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