• Aubrei Hayes

The Shift in Normalcy : VEP Takeover

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

“It’s official”, I thought to myself. I clicked the submit button as my MAIP application was flying through the internet, hoping for the best and excited for what’s to come. Flash forward to March 13th, when the government ordered the state of emergency for COVID-19. In the midst of confusion, concern, and panic MAIP was the only thing treading me along. I had a future, I had something to look forward to and something to fight for. Although I wouldn’t be able to work and create experiences in Chicago for the incredible Digitas Marketing Agency, I was blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the first virtual engagement program. This program would allow me to learn the ins and outs of the advertising agency, create meaningful relationships, and gain the support and passion of 300+ talented MAIP fellows all here to create change and truly impact the world. I was ecstatic to experience a community like no other.


As they say change is constant, and as I was preparing myself for the VEP takeover and believing that nothing worse could happen the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Arbey, and George Flloyd changed my life forever. I was hit with such raw emotion and shared experiences that I have been reliving all at once. From the microaggressions, oppression, and systemic racism my community was in pain, I was in pain and I didn’t know a remedy to heal the heart ache I was feeling. From the protests, the signatures of petitions, and the constant educating of others however I still felt incomplete, like I was letting my people down.


However throughout my fight and mental health battle, I was able to find help and support through my MAIP community. We were able to have those healing experiences virtually, provide support and vulnerability to all and create the ultimate brave space that ensured the courageous conversations. MAIP made me feel supported, recognized, and important. In the midst of outrageous systematic racism, there was a program created for my community, designed to celebrate our talent and culture as I was able to find my healing home.


The Virtual Engagement Program reshaped my entire outlook on the future, on the advertising industry, and my future as a person of color. It allowed me to not only recognize the negative that has happened throughout my community, but also celebrate my community's wins and the obstacles we have overcome. I am eternally grateful for the MAIP team for allowing me to shine and be the fabulously unapologetic person that I was destined to be. MAIP taught me how to not only create a seat for myself at the table, but to collaborate with my peers to build and take a seat at our own table.


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