Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Ad Club Caught in NYC Storm

Snow, mud and burning car are just around the bendReturning to Knoxville

Everything about this year’s Ad Club Field Trip to New York City was perfect (see a summary of the field trip below) until winter storm Jonas blew into NYC on Friday night, shutting down the city and its airports. Two of the three ADPR professors who led the trip, Courtney Childers and Robyn Blakeman, along with all nineteen students who went on the trip were supposed to fly back to Knoxville on Saturday, January 23. The winter storm made this impossible thus beginning a difficult but unforgettable odyssey for Childers, Blakeman and their students.

“I’m so proud of our students for staying calm and remaining positive throughout this ordeal,” said Blakeman. Childers took on the role of point person for communicating the status of the travel arrangements and working with the airline to rebook the flights. Most were able to return to Knoxville late Monday night, January 25. The final heroics took place when most of the group traveled to the airport on Monday morning to attempt to fly home on stand-by status. Traffic was at a stand-still five miles from the airport. The taxi drivers exited the highway, negotiating side streets, getting the group within a mile of the airport. However, it could get no closer because a vehicle fire in front of the airport had closed all access to the area. To reach the airport, they left the cabs with their luggage trudging part of the final mile through deep snow and mud.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to Courtney and Robyn,” said ADPR Director Maureen Taylor. “They led the group through a very difficult situation and got everyone safely back to Knoxville.”

[Local media covered the students’ travel challenges. Two of the stories from local Knoxville media can be seen here: and]

Adv. Students at NYC Alumni ReceptionThe AD Club NYC Field Trip

This year’s annual Ad Club field trip to New York City (January 18 – 23) provided 19 CCI ADPR students with the opportunity to visit some of the top advertising agencies in the world including: Y & R (Young & Rubicam), Grey Group, J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, MediaCom, Droga5, and mcgarrybowen. As part of their meetings, they visited and learned from a number of outstanding advertising and marketing executives including CCI alumni working in advertising and marketing positions in NYC: Scott Bubis (‘14), Matt Dirsa (‘10), Sarah Fink (‘12), Joey Hathaway (‘15), Erik Izo (’89), Tre Jordan (‘13), Molly Lynsky (‘13), Gustavo Quintero (‘13), Elizabeth Sova (‘14) and Samantha (Sam) White (‘10).

This year’s 23rd edition of the field trip was led by ADPR professors Eric Haley, Courtney Childers and Robyn Blakeman. In addition to the ad agency sessions, it featured a CCI Alumni Reception at the famed New York Athletic Club, which allowed students to meet and network with UT alums who live and work in the New York City area. CCI Board of Visitors member Hilda Murray and her brother, Kurt Schmissrauter, hosted the event.

Expected and Unexpected Learnings

This year’s Ad Club trip to NYC was similar to previous trips until it was time to come home. As in previous years, students got great insights into the advertising industry and what it takes to make a successful transition from the classroom to the professional world. They also had the opportunity to network and get to know CCI alumni. Finally, and unexpectedly, they learned how to navigate through an incredibly difficult travel challenge that will undoubtedly help them deal with travel disruptions at some point in the future.