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MC Department of Communication Honors Lisa Shoemaker as Alumnus of the Year

Lisa Shoemaker and Department of Communication Chair Cliff Fortenberry

When State Auditor Stacey Pickering takes his message to Mississippians, communications director Lisa Shoemaker plays a big role behind the scenes.

Shoemaker also did much of the heavy lifting to help Republican Steven Palazzo in an upset win over incumbent Democrat Gene Taylor in a nationally watched race for Congress in 2010.

On Friday, the talented 30-year-old returned to her alma mater, Mississippi College, to be honored as the Department of Communication’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.

Thankful to have terrific MC professors like Mignon Kucia, Tim Nicholas and the late Billy Lytal during her undergraduate days from 2000 to 2003, Shoemaker also stayed busy by landing some key internships. It opened doors to her first job as communications specialist with the East Mississippi Electric Power Association for more than two years before going to work for Pickering in 2008.

Today, Lisa makes it her business to know every reporter in the state, and many folks outside the Magnolia State to promote Pickering’s name identification from south of Memphis to the Gulf Coast. It often means getting little sleep, but Lisa isn’t afraid of a little hard work.

Speaking to Department of Communication students, Shoemaker delivered some sound advice.

“Don’t be scared to ask people questions,” Lisa told the undergraduates at a packed Baptist Healthplex meeting room.

Shoemaker told them that getting to know people really well and working hard are all part of the recipe for success. She’s collected many business cards and cell phone numbers along the way, and stays in touch with folks almost 24/7. People like political strategist Dick Morris called her late one night to give an enormous lift to the Palazzo campaign in 2010.

“Communication is more about relationships,” Lisa says.

In a question and answer session, Shoemaker was asked her advice to President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney with less than two weeks before the Nov. 6 election. “Don’t rock the boat,” she said. In two words, it would be “avoid controversy.”

Shoemaker was active in the Young Republicans at Mississippi College. But she also worked with Democrats over the years. She was once an intern for former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. One of her many assignments was to write a guest editorial for the Democratic governor about America’s Independence Day celebration. The column appeared in “The Clarion-Ledger.” It was one of her most valuable internships. “It was an amazing opportunity.”

Before Lisa spoke, students watched a video of people offering their congratulations for her award as the Department of Communication’s 2012 Alumnus of the Year.

“I’m very proud of Lisa,” Pickering said. “She is a great representative of Mississippi College.”