Fire Breathers, Stilt Walkers & RC Students: Blankenship Brings Them All Together

by Lindsay Baslock
Sports Editor

Alumni Allison Cox Milligan and Julianna blankenship at graduation in 2006.

Alumni Allison Cox Milligan and Julianna blankenship at graduation in 2006.

A 9-to-5 desk job could become a little tedious, but when you are researching for the best fire breather in Oakland County, the day becomes much more interesting.

Julianna Blankenship, who graduated from Rochester College in 2006, has turned her marketing position with Cornerstone Financial into a unique and interesting experience.

A business communication major while at RC, Blankenship was guided into pursuing marketing and public relations by one of her instructors, Lora Hutson, associate professor of mass communication.

Bright and Inquisitive

“Julianna was a bright, inquisitive student in class. She added to class discussions and was really engaged with the work. She was curious, always wanted to learn more and worked hard on all her assignments,” Hutson said.

Before she arrived on the RC campus, Blankenship was originally from Florida. Her family then moved to the Royal Oak/Troy area. She was home schooled for a portion of her childhood but then attended Christian Leadership Academy in Troy for high school.

RC seemed to be the place that aligned with her Christian values, Blankenship said.  When she was nearing completing her time at RC, she heard about a communications internship with the Village of Rochester Hills. She completed the internship, which included many PR and marketing tasks, and eventually the experience became a full-time job for her as assistant marketing director.

Blankenship decided to continue her education and earned a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication, which consists of advertising, marketing and PR, from Eastern Michigan University.

Back to RC

Near the end of her time at EMU, Hutson reached out to Julianna offering her a chance to teach as a part-time instructor at RC.

Lora Hutson, associate professor of mass communication; and Candace Cain, dean of students, celebrate Blankenship's graduation in 2006. 

Lora Hutson, associate professor of mass communication; and Candace Cain, dean of students, celebrate Blankenship's graduation in 2006. 

“I knew she would be a good teacher because of her engaging personality and desire to always keep learning.… She does great with her teaching and seems to really connect well with students,” Hutson said.

About a week after her graduation at EMU, Blankenship began teaching for RC, and she has been doing that for about four years now. She has taught courses such as Introduction to PR, PR Campaigns and Strategies, Consumer Behavior, Market Research, and PR Writing and Visual Design.

Joshlyn Booth, a senior at RC, who was in Blankenship’s PR Campaigns and Strategies class last year said, “She’s so helpful and understanding. She’s great at being there for you no matter what. I became more confident in my ability to do public relations because of her teaching.”

Today Blankenship only teaches online courses for RC because of her full-time position at Cornerstone Community Financial. She has been at CCF for seven and a half years now and is a marketing communication specialist. She is responsible for the communication going in and out of the credit union, which includes the employees, the membership and the public. 

Interesting But Sometimes Stressful

She finds that her favorite part of her job is also the most stressful point too. Blankenship is responsible for planning and coordinating internal and external events for CCF.

Within the company, Blankenship coordinates an annual chili cook-off with trophies for the winners. CCF has also been the main sponsor for events happening at the Village, including movie nights in the summertime and holiday-themed occasions as well.

The weekend before Halloween this year, Blankenship started setting up at 8 a.m. for the “Scare Away Hunger” event. Even though the rain was falling and the breeze was chilly, people came out to run early in the morning to raise money and collect non-perishables for the community.

 “It’s all these great details that come together to make this happen. That’s what I like and is most fun,” she said.

CCF also leads the Christmas parade in the Village with Santa out front. Blankenship starts early to prepare for that event each year.  She hired a stilt walker last year and was on the hunt for a fire breather too.

Events can be stressful because of the excessive coordinating, early weekend mornings, bad weather and a struggle to find volunteers. For example, last year she had a hard time finding volunteers for the Christmas parade. To get people involved, CCF bought beanie hats with its logo on it and whoever volunteered got a free hat.

Within 10 hours she had her whole staff stocked and she is not sure why this worked so well, but had enough volunteers that plan on coming back again this year because of the good time they had.

“Just being creative and thinking outside the box to get them involved; you just have to understand that you aren’t the only person in the world. It’s true in all of life but especially in marketing,” Blankenship said.

Arrow Integrated Marketing

When Blankenship is not working at CCF or teaching a class at RC, she is working on growing her freelance business, Arrow Integrated Marketing Consulting. She offers individual services for small companies that need help with branding, social media and press releases.

“I generally enjoy what I do…I’ve found in life that it doesn’t matter if it’s more money, you have to find what matters to you.  What matters to me is that I don’t work very far from home, I like being in the community and I like doing different things all the time. It fulfills me so instead of trying to find something that would make more money or be more prestigious, I try and find what makes my work-life balanced and I like teaching as well… It works for me,” she said.

As it may seem, Julianna Blankenship is a busy woman. However she is not the only diligent one in her family. Among her parents and siblings, the family owns about six different companies.

Her father is an entrepreneur and began a tooling company when Blankenship was young. The company is still running strong today and he employs his own staff.

"I like to call him a ‘plugger’ because he just keeps going no matter what. I learned to never give up and if you don’t like what you have in front of you then make something different,” said Blankenship.

Entrepreneurial Bloodlines

It might be appropriate to say that entrepreneurship runs in her blood. The tradition is even continuing for the next generation of her family. Her 11-year-old niece sells crafts at local shows.

Written by Julianna Blankenship about her friendships at Rochester college. 

Written by Julianna Blankenship about her friendships at Rochester college. 

In the little spare time that Blankenship has, she enjoys relaxing by doing yoga, walking her dog, a Shitzu named Bailey, participating in archery and hanging out with friends. She also has authored a children’s book, “Sally Lumpkin’s Party: A Story of True Friends,” which was based upon her experience with roommates at RC.

From her diligent work ethic and charismatic personality, she passes viable lessons onto her students to make them the best they can possibly be.

“Julianna was straightforward and authentic with the class; something that is hard to come by, but also made easier with such an intimate class size,” said RC senior Nick Simonis, who was in PR Campaigns and Strategies in spring 2015.

Fire breathers, stilt walkers and RC students may not have much in common, but Blankenship has touched them all with her creative, passionate and interesting life.