My goals are based on a path I started years ago as an editor in educational publishing. Coincidentally, the journey wasn't planned, but once I started, I've never seriously considered straying. Focusing on the youth market is my passion and my calling. Completing UTSA's Instructional Technology master's program is an important new stretch of path before me.
Where I've Been
One of my inspirations in children's publishing is Pleasant Rowland, a former educator, textbook author, and founder of American Girl, where I worked as an editor and Web content developer during the 1990s. Ms. Rowland described the essence of the American Girl brand as "vitamins in chocolate cake." Beautiful dolls attract girls to American Girl, but stories based on real and significant moments in history keep them interested and nourish a lifelong love of history. What a vivid example of motivation in learning! I can't count the number of times I've quoted Ms. Rowland's words of wisdom as they relate to the content development and publishing efforts throughout my career.
I also drew inspiration while serving a freelance editor in the mid-1990s for DEMCO's PastPorts, a series of middle school social studies curriculum units focusing on ancient cultures. This taste of educational content development was an excellent introduction to the classroom from a perspective I had not previously experienced -- from behind the desk.
Where I Am
USAA hired me in 2002 to lead a Corporate Communications team that published three educational magazines for children between the ages of 8 and 24. As media needs and capabilities changed, we shifted channels to better meet the information needs of the digital native generation that expects multimedia. During my tenure I led the launch of USAA's first podcast in 2006 (for teenagers) and the association's first social media presence (MySpace and Facebook pages in 2006 and 2007, respectively).
In 2009, I moved to Marketing to lead USAA's overarching youth market strategy, from advertising to communications and product development. A large portion of that strategy was relationship-building through communication and education efforts.
In 2010, I returned to Corporate Communications to stand-up a new effort: Advocacy, with which we hope to harness the power of brand advocates among the employee and member populations. For a year I served as the Reputation Management lead for innovation efforts, and I am currently a member of the Social Media team.
Where I'm Going
When I started the IST graduate program at UTSA, I made a conscious decision not to rush through it. I have reached a point in my life when I enjoy the journey as much as the destination. I graduated in December 2011, and am enjoying considering my path's next direction. One thing I know: I am happiest when I am learning. I enjoy the challenge of applying that learning to my current role at USAA and as I explore new career opportunities related to instructional technology. I'd relish the opportunity to combine my content development skills and emerging understanding of learning theory to help create high-quality curriculum materials that help meet learning goals.
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Julie A. Finlay • 1218 Salazar Trail
• San Antonio, TX 78216
• (210) 764-1575