Samantha Campos-Esquivel Receives the 2024 Cecilia Wilkinson Memorial Scholarship

First-year USC graduate student and full-time media strategist, Samantha Campos-Esquivel, is the latest recipient of the Cecilia Wilkinson Memorial Scholarship.

We recently had the distinct pleasure of meeting with Samantha Campos-Esquivel, a graduate student at USC who has been selected as the recipient of the 2024 Cecilia Wilkinson Memorial Scholarship.

Bestowed annually over the last 15 years, the scholarship celebrates exceptional first-year graduate students at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism who exhibit a profound passion for public relations or investor relations.

Samantha is a true embodiment of dedication and determination, pursuing her master’s degree in public relations and advertising, while simultaneously excelling as a full-time strategist at Horizon Media, a full-service media agency.

“I look forward to creating meaningful change in this line of work and showcasing my love for storytelling and this industry,” said Campos-Esquivel. “Studying at USC Annenberg has been a dream, and in these past few months, I have felt the impact and magic that a program like this has to offer. It is an honor to receive the Cecilia Wilkinson Memorial Scholarship and to have the support of tenured firms like PondelWilkinson in fulfilling this dream.”

Born and raised within the vibrant cultural tapestry of Los Angeles, Samantha developed a profound appreciation for the art of storytelling, particularly within the realms of music, cinema and television. Driven by her love for storytelling, Samantha found her calling in brand strategy and public relations. Beyond her professional and academic pursuits, Samantha is an enthusiastic explorer of diverse narratives, constantly seeking out new literary works, TV series and music that inspire and captivate her.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Samantha for this well-deserved recognition and for her dedication and commitment as she navigates the demands of both academia and the professional world.

Natalie Mu,

Continuing the Legacy of Cecilia Wilkinson

We recently had the pleasure to meet with Andrea Gomez, a graduate student at USC and recipient of this year’s Cecilia Wilkinson Memorial Scholarship.

USC Graduate Student Andrea Gomez is the latest recipient of the Cecilia Wilkinson Memorial Scholarship.

For the past 15 years, the Cecilia Wilkinson Memorial Scholarship has been awarded to a first-year graduate student at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism with an interest in corporate/investor relations and reputation management.

“I can’t thank you enough for your generosity!” said Gomez, who is pursuing a master’s degree in public relations and advertising. “The financial support has allowed me to attend USC without being burdened by financial stress. The Cecilia Wilkinson Memorial Scholarship has helped pay for a large amount of my tuition.”

Gomez shows strong passions in graphic design, marketing and civic engagement. She developed her unique concentration in working for service-driven organizations and is inspired to start a nonprofit organization for foster children one day.

“My dream has always been to work in a nonprofit, advocacy or social justice sector,” added Gomez. “Following and developing my passions led to my career in public relations. Corporate communications is a field that is quickly evolving. I’m so excited to enter this profession that will challenge me and push me to grow.”

Gomez also maintains high grades and already has begun making substantial connections with her professors who have founded nonprofit organizations. It is nerve-racking to enter a new world of education, but Gomez shows great talent, strength and aspiration to become the next front runner in the public relations realm.

“With their passion, purpose and skills, these students truly embody the hope and possibility of the future,” said Willow Bay, dean at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journal about PondelWilkinson’s memorial scholarship. “Your generosity has made a difference for our students today and tomorrow, and I am truly grateful for your enduring support and partnership.”

Best of luck, Andrea!

Aimee Wong,

Scholarship Defines Firm’s Legacy

Cecilia Wilkinson, who died in 2006, was a founding member of PondelWilkinson Inc., having joined the predecessor firm following her graduation from the University of Southern California, and enjoying an illustrious investor relations and corporate public relations career that spanned 25 years.

A nationally renowned industry leader, Cecilia has been honored since 2007 with an endowed scholarship fund in her memory for graduate students at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.


Dale Legaspi, recipient of the 2014 Cecilia Wilkinson Memorial Scholarship, during a staff meeting at the offices of PondelWilkinson in Century City.

Each year, the Cecilia Wilkinson Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a first-year strategic public relations graduate student with an interest in corporate/investor relations and reputation management.

We recently had the pleasure to meet this year’s recipient, Dale Legaspi, a graduate student at Annenberg, who is now studying to obtain a master’s degree and merge his professional communications experience with a new set of expanded capabilities.

“We are delighted to be able to continue Cecilia’s legacy by helping talented individuals such as Dale, who are pursuing advanced careers in our sector,” said Roger Pondel, the firm’s CEO since 1986, who worked with Cecilia for nearly her entire career. “We are uniquely positioned to mentor these students who are studying a specialization that encompasses traditional and social media, along with Wall Street and financial know-how, as we help tell our clients’ stories to key audiences, both on Main Street and Wall Street.”

Legaspi already has nearly a decade of professional experience, having worked at two boutique agencies and as a freelancer, representing a variety of companies across the technology industry, including mobile and wireless, carrier and enterprise networking, cloud, data center and security.

Wilkinson earned master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Annenberg, where she later taught undergraduate and graduate classes as an adjunct professor. She was honored with the school’s Distinguished Journalism Alumni award, served on the Board of Governors of the USC General Alumni Association, and was a former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

— George Medici,