7 Questions with Manal Jakhar '19

Manal Jakhar ‘19 has taken full advantage of all JWU has to offer during her time here as an Advertising & Marketing Communications major. From her hard work with JWU’s ADTEAM and other clubs to her stellar academic performance, it’s no wonder she was chosen by the American Advertising Federation (AAF) to attend their prestigious Most Promising Multicultural Student program in New York City. She shared with us what her college life has been like, how she copes with a busy schedule and what it means to her to be chosen for the Most Promising program.

Manal Jakhar

1. What attracted you to come to JWU?
The way the programs were designed compared to other neighboring schools attracted me. I started out here as a Marketing major and by my sophomore year I transitioned to the Advertising major, which JWU made really easy. JWU is also unique in the sense that you immediately jump into major courses your first year. This allowed me to get an impression right off the bat, which is super important when you’re trying to find what type of degree/industry you want to work in. I liked the flexibility.

2. What made you join ADTEAM? What has your role been on the team?
Well, I was really lost my sophomore year... I had a lot of anxiety around my life choices. With just my classes I felt like I needed to do more outside of the classroom to truly prepare myself for the industry. One of my professors, Christine Ure, recommended I join ADTEAM for an immersive campaign experience. It has really allowed me to understand the types of roles there are in the industry, and I found an environment where I could experiment freely in those roles. That’s pretty awesome. I eventually settled into the role of art direction and production for ADTEAM.

JWU's ADTEAM after winning the NSAC District championship in 2018.


3. ADTEAM can be pretty demanding from what I’ve heard, how have you been able to balance that with school work and other responsibilities?
ADTEAM is always what you make of it. You get out what you put into it, and I believe that goes for any job/role you go into. During certain times of year, it can be tough. Especially since I’m in the Special Honors and Rewards Program (SHARP) with a 22.5 credit class load every term, and I work with clients outside of school. The way I manage this is prioritizing my mental health and making sure I have hobbies that keep me energized. For me this includes fashion photography, taking care of my plants and meditation. It really helps more than you think.

4. Are you a part of any other organizations / extracurricular activities on campus?
I think it’s important to dip your toes in as many environments as possible to build a holistic view on things. I’ve done work for the Music & Entertainment Industry Student Association (MEISA), the Style & Design Association (SDA) fashion show and I’m a member of the Ad Club. It’s a great way to expand your network.

5. What does it mean to you to be selected for the Most Promising Program?
This is an interesting question —and one that me and other students in the program reflected on together. A lot of us come from immigrant families who’ve built new lives for their future generations. That’s a lot of pressure on us. In a society where people of color — especially women of color — have not been represented or appreciated, do you think we have learned to appreciate ourselves? No, it’s hard to pat ourselves on the back because we rarely feel like we’re doing enough to make our families and community proud. So, for me, this program allowed me to applaud myself and be proud of myself, which are things I have never been able to do before.

Jakhar at AAF's Most Promising Multicultural student program in NYC.


6. How was the program, what did you experience while there, and what have you taken away from it?
I went to NYC open-minded to truly listen and learn from these experts in the field. I got to go to some of the world’s biggest ad agencies and talk to the great minds behind the industry and people who actually impact our culture. Getting advice from them changed everything for me. It was also so liberating to be around these truly amazing students that all had a drive and love for culture and brought different things to the table. I am so glad I got to meet and talk to the people I did.

The main takeaway I got from the program was that I’m the only one who can determine my path in the industry. We all hear the “proper ways” to get into X, Y, Z field, but those are all based on other peoples’ experiences, not yours. Don’t confine yourself and follow what other people are doing in the industry, because the industry already has that. Find your voice and message and let that create your path — that’s how you make an impact.

7. Are there any other things about yourself that you’d like to share?
I am Pakistani Muslim American (from Lahore, Punjab region of Pakistan), and I speak English, Urdu and Punjabi.I was born in California and lived there until I was 7. I moved to Lahore for 5 years, and then moved to Portsmouth, RI and have been living there ever since.

*Fun fact: Punjabi is the regional language spoken in the Punjab region of Pakistan, while Urdu is one of Pakistan's official languages, along with English.