The companion to the Student Social Media Academy:

Case Studies and Testimonials

Here’s an in-depth look at what it’s like to work together and the kinds of big goals we can achieve when we commit to consistency, values-based strategy, and authenticity online.

Case Study:

Multi-year Consulting, Illinois State University, Division of Student Affairs

Client Challenges

The team at Illinois State University was so caught up in the day-to-day that they didn’t have time to see the big picture of digital engagement in student affairs or develop buy-in across their division. They aimed to be the premier student affairs division using social media, but had no roadmap for how to get there or feedback about whether or not they were on the right track.

How We Worked Together

Our relationship has included advisory services, hands-on strategy, data analysis, and in-depth training of their professional staff, students, and divisional leadership team, including online workshops and on-campus visits. This way they get the best of both worlds: macro vision and micro momentum.

Specific Outcomes

  • Developed ownership, usage, and evolution of their branded hashtag.
  • Global exposure of their student digital influencer program, further legitimizing the allocation of resources.
  • Investment of video production and strategy in student affairs. 


The division’s marketing team produced 48 videos during the academic year
The division’s social media audiences increased by 113% throughout the course of our engagement
0 %

Awarded “Best Overall Use of Social Media” on campus by University Marketing and Communications at the 2018 #RedbirdProud Social Media Awards

Josie is a major contributor in bringing digital leadership to the forefront, highlighting the importance of this critical competency for higher education professionals, including senior officers. Over the years, I’ve leveraged her knowledge and expertise in digital leadership in order to elevate my professional skills in this area as a senior administrator. Josie’s coaching is a must-consideration if you are seeking to take your digital leadership to the next level as senior administrator in higher education!
Levester ‘LJ’ Johnson
Vice President for Student Affairs, Illinois State University
In my time working with Josie as a consultant to our campus, I have gained tremendous respect and admiration for the work that she does.

In the complex field of digital engagement, which not everyone truly understands or embraces, Josie shines a light on the importance of this work through her scholarly research and vast knowledge on the topic. Her genuine passion for sharing digital best practices with students, professionals, and administrators is evident through the high energy and enthusiasm she brings to any project or presentation. Josie is a pure delight to work with!
Megan Rolfs
Director of Marketing and Communication, Division of Student Affairs, Illinois State University
Dr. Josie Ahlquist is a wonderful speaker who is accommodating, gravitating, and experienced. She interacts with her audience and has outstanding recommendations for improving your social media and taking it to the next level. I love Dr. Josie’s presentations because they always have an impact and leave you thinking about how you can enhance your platforms.
Sarah Aguilar
Illinois State University Student Board of Regents and Student Digital Influencer

Client Testimonial:

Executive Coaching, Dr. Patty Perillo,
Vice President of Student Affairs, University of Maryland

"Dr. Josie Ahlquist is the real deal. Smart, competent and committed to her craft, she is the consummate educator.

If you want to learn more about how to align your values and purpose on social media, work with her!

The coaching relationship with Josie is all about uncovering your own truths and purpose and finding ways to intentionally reveal it all in your preferred mediums. I learned a lot and, as a result, am even more purposeful with every tweet, post, and message. Her work is integrative — my work and messaging were aligned.

If you want to learn more about your purpose and values, and social media, then work with Josie. She is smart, thoughtful and knowledgeable.  She believes in co-creation and brings out the best in her clients. I am a better educator and communicator because of her.

I am grateful we worked together.”

Client Testimonial:

Full-Day Speaking Engagement, Longwood University

“The Digital Education Collaborative began its Digital Citizenship Week initiative in 2014 because it made sense. Longwood University’s robust programming calendar with its focus on developing citizen leaders was missing a comparable initiative. Following #LancerNation’s welcoming reception, I knew we were ready for more and Dr. Ahlquist was a natural first choice. From start to finish, a partnership spanning nearly nine months, Josie was an absolute rockstar! Her ability to connect with our students, whether delivering a keynote to hundreds or interacting at a student tabling event, truly personalized our message.”

Becky Patt

Assistant Director, Digital Education Collaborative at Longwood University

Student Leadership In the Digital Age

“Josie was very engaged with the audience and did a good job of relating to the students.

She provided valuable resources for getting more involved and the activities were fun and refreshing. I would highly recommend her as a speaker to bring back to Longwood.”

Lauren Gaines

History Secondary Education, 2019

“You may face more negative backlash online as a woman, but Josie gave us great tips on how to protect ourselves online”

Suzanne Sauter

Communication Studies, 2019

“I learned that you really can be a role model for other women on social media and you should use this to your advantage by promoting yourself in a special, positive, and unique way. Build other women up!”

Sadie Hodges

Special Education, 2019

Helping plan and execute this event as an ITC gave me more than a line to add to my resume, I improved my organizational and communication skills.

I also found out exactly what it takes to plan a campus wide program that reached hundreds of my peers. I also was able to gain experience with practical skills such as grant writing and networking which will help me in my future after Longwood. As a student attending the keynote talks, I was able to take Dr. Ahlquist’s advice on my social media posting and am working on rebranding myself and my digital presence online to make me a more appealing candidate for graduate school and a better digital leader.”

Carrie Zimmerman

Psychology, 2018

There are billions of social media accounts.

But only a few leaders truly ignite community connection.

You can be one of them.

If you have big goals for yourself or your organization and you need the right partner to help you bring them over the finish line, let’s get to work. There are billions of social media accounts, but only a few leaders truly ignite community connection.

You can be one of them.

Rebekah Tilley

Assistant Vice President, University of Iowa Center for Advancement

Rebekah Tilley is the assistant vice president of communication and marketing for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA). In that role she supports fundraising and alumni engagement efforts for the university, including its CASE Gold winning Iowa Magazine, and serves UICA in a variety of strategic communication efforts.

Previously she was the director of strategic communication for the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, and the director of communication for the University of Kentucky College of Law. She is a Kentucky native and a proud alum of the University of Kentucky.

Connect with Rebekah

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