Dear Future Lipscomb Associate,

Over the past two years as the Lipscomb Associate for Children’s Trust of South Carolina, I have been given the opportunity of a lifetime.

Emilyn Ropp

Emilyn Ropp served as Children’s Trust’s Lipscomb Associate for two years.

I came to Columbia from Jacksonville, Florida to attend the University of South Carolina, knowing less than a handful of students upon my arrival. I became involved in the Kappa Delta sorority, whose philanthropy is Prevent Child Abuse America and, more directly, Children’s Trust of South Carolina. After two years as an undergraduate, I had made lifelong friendships, expanded my knowledge in school, and supported the prevention of child abuse and neglect across the state through Kappa Delta. I sought out extracurricular opportunities and was involved in homecoming 2019, the Carolina Sales Club and intramural sports leagues – although 4 v. 4 flag football might not have been the best option…

I grew into a more dedicated student, admirable friend and confident young woman. The city of Columbia and the state of South Carolina had become my home away from home, and I knew that I wanted to give back to the place that has given me so much.

Working in the communications department at Children’s Trust was the perfect opportunity. Little did I know my time with Children’s Trust would only increase these qualities in myself as well as a sense of belonging within a new community. The people, the mission, and the work of Children’s Trust instilled a sense of value in my everyday life. I felt as though I knew Columbia and the state of South Carolina – except for directionally; I still use Google Maps.

Through my role, I was able to understand the needs of children and families in South Carolina, the need for resources and support, the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences, and the importance of Child Abuse Prevention Month. The work I’ve done for Children’s Trust has allowed me to make a meaningful impact on the lives of children and families in South Carolina – something most 21-year-olds can’t say.

This organization has given me inspiring teachings, rewarding experiences, and both personal and professional growth. I am proud to say that Children’s Trust has not only attributed to the sense of home for me in South Carolina, but it has become my home. However, as my time with Children’s Trust comes to an end, I write to you, future Lipscomb Associate, with suggestions, insights, and helpful tips for your upcoming journey.

When they ask you, “What do YOU want to learn?” take it seriously.

Until I worked with my manager at the time, Maggie Lynn, I had no idea how much the study of business analytics in marketing and communications interested me. Through her teaching on analytical marketing, I became interested in understanding our audience through historical data across multiple online platforms. I enjoyed learning about how we could then improve our own internal strategies based on research and measurable goals.

I decided to add a concentration in business analytics to my coursework and expand on this interest twofold. I loved understanding the “Why?” behind consumer decision-making, as well as the ability to analyze their actions through data. I truly enjoyed using analytics to further my own knowledge and implement data-driven decisions—so much so, that my summer internship post-junior year was an analytical-based digital marketing position for Lowe’s Home Improvement. There I was able to utilize my previously established skills. The Lipscomb Associate role has given me a solid grasp on types of projects and tasks that I feel truly passionate about, an “upper hand” so to speak, compared to my peers that haven’t had the opportunity to explore their interests.

Get creative and take on responsibility!

During my two years at Children’s Trust, I have had the opportunity to take on important projects that expanded my ways of thinking and creativity. For example, I was tasked with managing the last 3-months of a previously implemented marketing plan for one of the organization’s signature programs, the Positive Parenting Program (Triple P). At first, this task seemed daunting, as I was responsible for allocating funds to the tail end of the campaign, making improvements accordingly and reporting out overall insights and findings. Once I accepted the fact that yes, I am in charge of this project, and yes, they trust my decision making, I was able to provide Children’s Trust and Triple P with valuable information for improvement. I analyzed the campaign from start to finish, comparing overall trends, resources allocated, and audience interaction in order to provide data-driven suggestions.

Emilyn Ropp planting blue pinwheels

Emilyn Ropp planting blue pinwheels during Child Abuse Prevention Month.

I was also tasked with building a promotional cadence for the Policy Forum, a new bi-weekly column, facilitated by senior director of policy and advocacy Phillip Cease, which features guest writers to address the issues facing children and families. I researched target audiences, created objectives, chose distributional outlets, and even worked with the art director, Todd Hooks, to make branded graphics. Through this project, I was able to plan the marketing aspect of the Policy Forum beforehand and then see it truly come to life, as I assisted in the publishing and promotion of multiple columns.

Finally, as my last project, I investigated the Children’s Trust social media platforms. I based this social media deep-dive on internal historical data, analyzing successful content over the past year through clicks, engagements and reach. I was also able to give insights into our audience by providing demographics per platform. I then collaborated with the communications team and, as a group, decided on ways to improve our overall social media strategy. This responsibility was specifically rewarding, as I was able to combine my individual efforts with the support and expertise of the entire team.

So, Lipscomb Associate, this is your chance to show off. Show what you’ve learned in class or through extracurriculars. Use your creativity to provide new ideas and don’t be afraid of responsibility. Seriously, you are not just an intern, but instead a valuable part of the team.

You will grow from a college student into a young professional without even knowing it. 

I have always been the person who needs to set my clock five minutes fast to arrive on time. Through this position, I have learned how to plan ahead, prioritize tasks, balance work, school, and extracurriculars, and build a solid system to eliminate feeling overwhelmed or unprepared. I have developed strengths in ways I didn’t even notice at the time, although, yes, my clock is still five minutes fast.

Through this position, I have developed valuable professional relationships inside and outside of the organization. I have learned different skills from each member of the communications team under their guidance and created relationships that I know will benefit me throughout the rest of my career. (Thank you, Neil White, for the reference letter!)

I have communicated with grantees, Child Abuse Prevention Month partners, board members, and many others at Children’s Trust. At this point, I could write a formally written email with my eyes closed.

I recently even had the opportunity to meet with and give my utmost thanks to the members of the Lipscomb Family Foundation, which truly allowed my two-year experience with Children’s Trust and senior year come full circle. Without the Lipscomb Family Foundation, I would have never been able to have this experience, these relationships, and countless memories. I owe my time at Children’s Trust all to you and could not thank you enough for this opportunity, as well as Children’s Trust itself, for making this experience the best it could be.

I have seen this organization navigate through the pandemic, implement a successful Child Abuse Prevention month with no pinwheels, and work tirelessly to improve the well-being of children and families in our state. Children’s Trust is the representation of being the change you want to see in the world, and I am so glad to have been a part of it.

With love and gratitude,

Emilyn Ropp