The Journey Begins: Q&A With Dacia Hindsman, 2021 Resonance Scholarship Winner - Signal Theory
Q&A With Dacia Hindsman

As Signal Theory and The Brand Lab prepare to announce their 2022 Resonance Scholarship winner, we wanted to check in with Dacia Hindsman, the Resonance Scholarship’s 2021 recipient.

In 2021, Signal Theory teamed up with The BrandLab KC, a nonprofit organization, to offer the Resonance Scholarship to underscore that effective communication can’t happen without resonating with people of various backgrounds and perspectives. The Resonance Scholarship awards $10,000 annually in postsecondary financial support, and recipients are guaranteed a paid summer internship with Signal Theory.

Tell us about your first year at college.

I’m going to college at Langston University in Oklahoma. My first year has been great. I’d say the best thing that happened at Langston was when I joined the track team. I was able to meet a lot of people there, and we’re family to this day. But because I also have an internship at Pollen Midwest, a media arts nonprofit, it all became very time-consuming. I ended up giving up track. But it’s OK because we’re still connected. We go to games to see each other. And I’m still able to join practice and run with them from time to time.

I was also chosen to be a Langston Ambassador. I greet the new incoming freshmen. And I love introducing people to a new space and new environment, helping them navigate, so I’ll be able to do that for them.

Can you tell us a little more about your current internship at Pollen Midwest?

I initially took the internship because I thought it might help me decide if I want to be a copywriter. This, coupled with discussions where Jim Vranicar, COO at Signal Theory, encouraged me to get different experiences before starting my internship at the firm to see what skills are needed for this role.

I was hesitant and didn’t think I was qualified for a copywriting internship, but my sister told me how women mostly think that they’re not qualified so they won’t apply for those positions. She encouraged me to do it anyway. So I did, and I ended up getting it.

Can you tell us a little bit about why you decided to join The BrandLab and what you were hoping it would teach you?

The first time I was introduced to The BrandLab, I was in the Early College Academy program at Penn Valley. My principal gave us a flier talking about an upcoming fair, and I decided to attend. I came across The BrandLab and was interested because of their focus on marketing. I had seen “Blackish,” the dad was in marketing, and I thought that seemed cool. I brought my résumé and was professionally dressed, and they were impressed because of my age. I ended up getting into The BrandLab’s program, which helped me connect and network with a lot of cool, interesting people. And we’re still close today.

Do you remember how you learned about the Signal Theory Resonance Scholarship?

My BrandLab coordinator told us about the new scholarship opportunity, and I didn’t even feel like I would be selected. I attended an information session hosted by Signal Theory to learn more about the scholarship. They showed some videos, and I just thought they were so cool and became more interested in applying for both the scholarship money and the internship opportunity with Signal Theory.

At the time, I was really nervous about how I was going to pay for college. I was just looking at all the costs. It was so expensive, but I really wanted to proceed in my education. It gave me hope once I did receive the scholarship. I thought that if they believed in me, then maybe other people will too and will want to join my journey. It helped me out with my journey. And it turns out, there are a lot of open arms along that journey.

Jim Vranicar, Dacia Hindsman, Tara Wiley

Jim Vranicar, COO; Dacia Hindsman, 2021 Resonance Scholarship Recipient;
Tara Wiley, Senior Employee Experience Manager.

Winning the Resonance Scholarship encouraged me to apply for many more and win other awards too. So without that, I just would have lost them. And I encourage other students to do the same and apply for scholarships, even if they think they won’t get them.

In addition to getting the funds, I have met professionals who are interested in my opinion and see the value I can bring to a conversation. It’s been a learning experience that I feel I will take with me throughout my career.

Can you describe your experience with the Resonance Scholarship interview process?

I was very nervous but impressed that senior level executives were part of the process. The scholarship is part of Signal Theory’s DEI initiative to diversify the firm and the KC ad community, and it was important to Ali and John, the agency’s co-CEOs, to be part of hearing who was applying and why. I always try to be who I am and never change or act differently, so I was me. They saw my personality and heard what my dreams are and what I hope to do in the future.

How has the Resonance Scholarship impacted you?

It made me feel secure financially, and then also took the worries off of my parents’ back and my big sister. Before winning, I remember there was a moment where I just cried because I was overwhelmed by everything. Winning the scholarship helped me know that I got this, and after that I just kept applying for more. And now I feel like I’m living the dream a little bit.

You have met Ali Mahaffy, our co-CEO. What do you find inspiring about seeing a female leader?

I first met Ali during the interview because she was on the panel. And then I just thought it was great seeing a woman in that position. I kept on thinking, “I want to be like her one day and be in that position.”

Dacia Hindsman and Ali Mahaffy

Dacia Hindsman; Ali Mahaffy, Co-CEO.

Ali continues to inspire me because she is showing the world how to be successful as somebody who’s different from a lot of other people, or the majority of the people, in that position. Ali achieved a top leadership position in an industry where that role is mostly held by men. She has shown it is possible to be different from the majority and successfully lead an organization while staying true to who she is. I draw on that when I need to. Ali inspires me to keep going and to push forward.

What are you doing to help others find their strengths and achievements?

I am currently mentoring Autumn, a friend from my high school, Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts. She is starting a clothing business, and I gave her tips about that and about applying for scholarships.

I try to reinforce that mindset matters. Anytime someone mentions that they have an idea but wonders if they should do it, I tell them to just do it. That’s my response for everything.

How do you want to impact the advertising industry?

I want to help show the world that many of the images that have been planted in the United States for so long, are false or need to be updated. It’s important to showcase various perspectives, because when you see a person as a person, then the stereotypes once associated with that person are changed. Personally, I want to continue to try to be who I am and do the best I can. I have learned so much already and can’t wait to see what else I can learn and how I can impact others.

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