Resonance Scholarship Fuels a Diverse Advertising Journey
Photo of Aliya Kisivo on a black background with colorful arch shapes.

2023 Resonance Scholarship recipient shares her experience

 Aliya Kisivo couldn’t imagine the doors that would open for her when she applied for the Resonance Scholarship, a partnership between Signal Theory and The BrandLab’s Kansas City chapter. Kisivo, who grew up in Shawnee, Kansas,  just finished her sophomore year at the University of Kansas, majoring in journalism with an emphasis in strategic communications and minoring in business. Signal Theory awarded her a $5,000 Resonance Scholarship in 2023.

“The Resonance Scholarship will have a lasting impact on my future,” said Kisivo. “It allowed me to take some of the financial burden off of college and focus more on my studies and other aspects of college. That’s an amazing blessing for a college student.”

Not only did the scholarship help with college tuition and expenses, but the paid internship that came with it connected Kisivo to real-world experience in advertising and marketing.

“I felt the stress of having to apply and look for internships taken off my shoulders,” she said. “Along with the reduced financial burden, I get to intern at a really cool place.”

Experience that Matters

Signal Theory dimensional logo office display This summer, Kisivo will join Signal Theory as a content strategy intern. She brings her experience from her The BrandLab internship as a communications intern at the Greater Kansas City Foundation. The nonprofit organization facilitates corporate giving by educating and connecting donors to community needs they care about. Through that experience, Kisivo wrote articles about corporate giving for the organization’s website, coordinated a podcast and more.

“I liked using my creative side,” she said. “I felt like my voice and opinions were heard so I was able to give a lot of creative input when it came to writing and the podcast.”

Kisivo also helped plan, promote and attend the foundation’s Black Community Fund gala celebrating 40 years of giving.

“It was a lot of writing, planning, hosting, coordinating and networking,” Kisivo recalls.  “I was able to connect with a lot of inspirational, predominantly black, successful people. Working on the gala gave me access to spaces I would not have been in if it weren’t for that position,” Kisivo said.

An Advocate For Diversity

Photo portrait of Aliya KisivoKisivo is passionate about helping people from diverse backgrounds share their perspectives. In high school, she and a friend started a podcast to address issues specific to the black community. In August, Kisivo launched a new podcast called “Allow Me to Explain.”

“My previous podcast felt less relatable when I transitioned to college,” she said. “The content of “Allow Me to Explain” focuses on what it’s like to be a black student at a predominantly white institution.”

Kisivo also runs an online book review account that reviews books by predominantly black authors. Kisivo looks forward to continuing to make an impact.

“Making a positive impact is one of my number one motivators in everything I do,” she said. “One of the reasons I do my podcast is that I know there aren’t many safe spaces or places for black women, predominantly, in places where they are the minority, and I like to create that safe space for them.”

She says entering those spaces begins with seeing yourself in them.

“As somebody who wants to break into that career space, it’s nice and eye-opening to see people who look like me, helping me believe it is possible to succeed in a marketing career,” she says. Once at the table, Kisivo continues, diverse voices can provide new perspectives.

“If there are more black people and diverse people in the rooms where marketing decisions are happening, the product is more likely to resonate with a more diverse audience.” Kisivo continues, “If I can play a role in helping others feel as though there’s a place for them to share their ideas, that is a positive impact I can make.” 

“Be honest in your passions and your reasons for doing things.”

Advice for Others

Kisivo says young professionals looking to break into marketing and advertising should focus on authenticity.

“Be honest in your passions and your reasons for doing things,” she suggests. “Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable about your struggles and how you overcame them.”

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