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Loyola welcomes Fulbright scholar from Sri Lanka

| By Stephanie Weaver
Shyala Smith

Loyola University Maryland and the communication department welcome Shyala Smith, a Fulbright scholar, to campus to conduct her research on content marketing strategy and social media advertising.

Smith, from Sri Lanka, moved to her Radnor Road residence in Baltimore in August and will continue her research through November. Smith’s research was inspired by the lack of digital advertising in Sri Lanka, where the advertising and marketing industry hasn’t adapted to using new technologies, even though millennials are a large part of the population.

She hopes to return to her home country with a strategy to help transition the Sri Lankan advertising industry to the digital space, and away from a reliance on only traditional media, like television and newspapers.

She’s currently the associate creative director in the Sri Lanka office of Saatchi & Saatchi, an international advertising agency. The agency’s clients include some of the largest brands in her country. This is her first time in the United States and her first U.S. university experience.

“Most of what I knew about America I learned from the movies and the media” said Smith. “It’s refreshing to be here and experience the real America.”

She’s already visited New York City and San Francisco during her time in the United States. In October, she’ll tour agencies in Baltimore to learn more about social media and online advertising from active practitioners. So far, she’s been pleasantly surprised with the parallels between Sri Lanka and America, particularly in culture.

But she misses her local rice and curry.

Smith began her career at 17 years old as a copywriter right after grade school. She was unable to attend university oversees, and began applying for writing jobs.

“Writing, especially for advertising, has always been a passion of mine,” said Smith.

Greg Hoplamazian, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication, serves as Smith’s advisor at Loyola. He, and other communications faculty, attend weekly meetings with her and give guidance to help her reach her research goals.    

Smith was introduced to faculty and staff on Thursday, Sept. 17, during a Fulbright experience social. In addition to Smith speaking about her research, other faculty members had the opportunity to reflect on their Fulbright experiences to encourage other faculty members to apply for Fulbright scholarships.

Smith will also address the campus community in November about her research findings. While she’s here, Hoplamazian hopes that students, especially those in ALANA, Global Studies, PRSSA, the marketing club, and the advertising club, will benefit from Smith’s presence.

‘The University community has been very supportive of Smith, and Fulbright’s mission to help cultural and educational exchange. I am grateful that Loyola continues to be a community that fosters understanding and new opportunities,” Hoplamazian said.  

Smith is Loyola’s first professional Fulbright scholar visiting from overseas in nearly two decades. The Fulbright Scholarship Program, sponsored by the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, provides funding for research and cultural exchanges around the world.

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