In Their Own Words: CLAVE Doctoral Fellows Talk About Their Doctoral Experience

The Centro de Excelencia at National Louis University serves as the hub for programs and initiatives that advance our work as a community and as a career-focused Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).

CLAVE is an acronym for “Comunidades Latinas Académicas con Visión de Éxito,” [Latino Academic Communities with Vision of Success], and through its Graduate Student Institute, the Center seeks to increase the retention and graduation of Latinx graduate students. This work is supported by the Promoting Post-baccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans (PPOHA) program, a grant from the Hispanic Serving Institutions Division of the Department of Education.

The CLAVE Doctoral Fellowship is a program within the CLAVE Graduate Institute designed to develop and support a network of promising Latinx doctoral scholars. They are awarded to Latinx doctoral students who demonstrate strong potential to become educators, leaders, and scholars at local, state, and national levels. The Fellowships provide financial assistance, individual and group mentoring, and opportunities to teach a graduate level course and/or participate in research in collaboration with a NLU faculty member.

The Centro de Excelencia is committed to continue to support the academic community as a whole, and these Fellows as they make their mark at National Louis University and in their communities.

We congratulate, and are proud to introduce, the inaugural 2020-2021 CLAVE Doctoral Fellows:

The Centro de Excelencia is now accepting applications for the 2021-2022 CLAVE Doctoral Fellowship program. The deadline for applications is May, 28, 2021. Please direct questions to

In Their Own Words: Testimonials from two CLAVE Doctoral Fellows on the significance of the CLAVE Doctoral Fellowship

Toni Carmichael, Teaching & Learning (Curriculum, Advocacy, & Policy)

It’s an honor to receive the inaugural CLAVE Doctoral Fellowship at National Louis University.  National Louis University has an excellent reputation for providing opportunities for Latino students, which I am grateful for because I earned my Master’s Degree in Education at NLU in 2004.  The CLAVE Doctoral Fellowship has supportive mentors with Dr. Quiroa, Dr. Viola, and Dr. Sahagún-Behena to direct the fellows in our quest to complete our doctoral dissertations and plan for the future as Latino/a/x educators and professionals.  The CLAVE Doctoral Fellowship at National Louis University aims to provide a voice in the areas of study for Latino students. This opportunity to become a fellow at National Louis University will develop our Latino/a/x and diverse doctoral students like myself to demonstrate our potential to serve our fellow students by giving them a voice.  This voice will give assistance to our future educators, leaders in the community, and develop our scholars at the local, state, and national levels.  The Latino/a/x voices we empower in our students will be the springboard to fostering an environment where real changes can take place.

Azalia TorresClinical Psychology

Being a CLAVE Doctoral fellow has been an incredible opportunity. The mentoring support is truly a unique experience, and I am grateful for the support I have received from different National Louis CLAVE mentors. For example, we developed a personal logic model, which helped me understand how important it is to have a detailed plan for future goals. I was not aware of personal logic models, but this simple guide helped me become more aware of developing realistic goals, creating concrete plans, and putting those plans into action. Also, having a resource like writing support is an incredible tool to have as a graduate student. The workshops, seminars, and symposiums that were offered were great learning experiences. It is motivating to hear from Latinx professionals, their experiences, their fields of professions, and their knowledge. I want to emphasize the motivating factor because CLAVE has helped me visualize my goals as a professional, especially by meeting so many great Latinx professionals.

Please join us in congratulating all our inaugural CLAVE doctoral fellows!

8 Digital Marketing Best Practices for Self-Funded Startups

If you run a self-funded startup, marketing your business is key to the growth of your startup. There are traditional and digital marketing strategies you can use to help you get your startup in front of as many eyes as you can. 

But for bootstrapped startups, you may not have the funds to invest heavily into traditional advertising. That’s why digital marketing is the best and most effective way to market your brand. 

A survey from CB Insights revealed that one of the main reasons startups fail is because they don’t market their business effectively. 

There is an ever-increasing number of internet users, and startups can use digital marketing to reach their target customers, even with limited budgets.


Digital marketing not only provides a platform to grow your brand, but it also offers an easy medium to promote your business and offer reliable customer service. It also provides you with ample opportunities to set yourself apart from your competitors and get your message noticed and heard in today’s sea of marketing messages. 

If you’re looking to start a business of your own, NLU’s MBA program will be incredibly helpful in providing you with the tools that you need for success.  If you’re interested, click here to learn more

In this article, we discuss 8 digital marketing best practices to help you ensure the success of your self-funded startup.

Great Marketing Is Crucial for Startup Survival

Well-executed marketing is crucial for the survival and growth of a startup. As previously mentioned, great marketing will help you grow your startup, especially if you don’t have a massive budget at the beginning. 

With the right marketing strategy, you will be able to boost your sales, spread your name, gain, and retain customers – all without bankrupting your business. 

Great marketing will also help you enhance your company’s reputation and save you tons of time so you can get on with other duties that are critical to your success.

The bottom line is, marketing is crucial for a startup business, particularly self-funded startups that need to implement the most cost-effective marketing strategies. The better the marketing strategies you employ, the stronger and healthier your business will be.

Digital marketing offers companies a way to market themselves to their target audience using a variety of marketing options to achieve maximum effectiveness in a cost-effective way.

Why Choose Digital Marketing Over Traditional?

For self-funded startups, their only hope of finding success is in finding the best and most efficient marketing strategy. 

When it comes to marketing, there are a myriad of reasons why businesses choose digital marketing over traditional. For one, digital marketing is more accessible for startups. It gives new brands a fighting chance when competing with established companies and millions of existing marketing campaigns.

Here are some more reasons why startups choose digital marketing over traditional.

  • Cost-Effective: Digital marketing is cheaper and allows you to reach and connect with a wide audience at every corner of the globe.
  • Engage Clients: You can engage with clients directly using various digital marketing channels, including social media posts, webinars, email, etc. 
  • Easy Testing: With digital marketing, startups have the opportunity to conduct inexpensive customer research.
  • Results Tracking: Digital marketing offers an efficient way to track and measure important metrics to drive startup success.

Digital marketing takes startups one step closer to their target audiences. Contrary to traditional marketing which relies on a single medium, the digital marketing scene delivers an omnichannel customer experience to help brands grow and sustain. 

The arena is constantly evolving and there are developments that are breaking new ground every day. 

Digital marketing offers technology to automate processes, personalize interactions, and coordinate actions so brands can grow faster. With a cohesive marketing strategy, startups can build their brand, sell their products, and grow their companies, even amidst fierce competition.

Digital Marketing Moves Your Startup Needs to Make

If you have just launched a new startup, you aren’t just competing with other companies in your industry, but you are also competing against the countless marketing messages consumers are being inundated with each day. 

So, to help you keep pace with ever-shifting consumer behavior, there are certain things you need to do.

1. Get Your Branding Nailed Down

Your company’s brand is its complete personality and the medium through which your startup can express to consumers its core values and business methods, as well as what its product can do and the ways in which it can change a user’s experience. 

It’s important for digital marketing to have your startup’s branding fully fleshed out for these reasons:

  • Branding helps to increase your startup’s visibility
  • It gives your company a unique identity so you can stand out
  • Branding also improves traction by helping you retain customer goodwill
  • Startup branding helps you establish a strong business image
  • Branding can also help you resolve customer issues
  • Having a strong brand will help your business stay in the market for longer

These are just a few of the reasons why it’s crucial for startups to get their branding nailed down. Eventually, a great branding strategy can scale up a startup’s worth, far exceeding the company’s actual value.

2. Invest in Key Tools

Most self-funded startups start off using free tools. But, for the most part, premium tools will do a better job than free ones, which is why it’s important to invest in key analytics tools to improve your company’s long-term growth and sales. 

There are a lot of great tools you can use to help you with every aspect of your marketing, from SEO and lead generation to project management, analytics, and more. You can sign up for free trials before committing so you can see which tools fit your needs. 

Some of the best marketing tools to consider include:

  • Moz Pro
  • WebEngage
  • Crazy Egg
  • Wishpond
  • Kissmetrics
  • Mixpanel

…among many others.

3. Know Where You Need Help

As a startup owner, you will likely be wearing many hats in your business. However, you can’t do everything alone if you want your business to grow bigger than just you. You need to figure out where you need help and who you need to hire to make your marketing successful. 

This could mean hiring an overall expert, a specialist in certain things, or even an entire team. You must know where you need someone else’s knowledge, skills, and experience, and take the steps to build a strong team of talented people around you. 

Keep in mind, your team doesn’t necessarily have to be local for success.  If you have a tool like Time Doctor, you can track remote employees just as well as you would local ones to make sure everyone stays productive.  

Some people you may need to hire for your startup include: 

  • Brand consultant
  • Marketing manager
  • Content strategists
  • Editorial planners
  • Copywriters
  • …and so on. 

You also need to make the decision about whether you will have freelancers or full-time employees. And remember, there are a lot of inexpensive tools your team can use, such as a CRM, to execute your core competencies and build a successful business. 

4. Create Content That Stands Out

Content marketing is saturated and to stand out from the competitors you will have to produce creative and effective content that is unique to your brand and message. 

Content marketing offers a reliable way to get your message across to your audience, but if you are creating unremarkable content, it will be hard to break through the noise and capture the attention of your audience. 

You need a good content team to create outstanding, engaging content that people will like and share. If you create compelling, intent-based content, you can also use it as part of your overall strategy to increase your conversions and generate more sales. 

5. Perfect Your Landing Pages

Before you begin running paid marketing campaigns, you must perfect your landing pages. It’s important to create and test your landing pages to find the highest converting ones. So, instead of using a template and running it on autopilot, rather create an ongoing process for running A/B tests on the different aspects of your landing page that impact conversion. These include:

  • Headlines
  • Text
  • Call to action
  • Button color scheme
  • … and so on.


6. Work on Your Employer Appeal

As a startup, you are likely to end up needing more help in the future as your business grows. Finding talented people to add to your team can be hard, but you can make it a lot easier for yourself to hire the best people by working on your employer branding. 

There are various tactics you can use to boost your image online to potential employees. For instance, you can create a company blog that can be a great revenue driver for the company and a great-looking team page on your website. 

Also, you can tap into your current team’s contacts on social media by asking your team members to share any current job openings in your startup within the network.

When their connections see your team having a great time where they work, they too will aspire to work at a workplace like yours.

7. Find Your Social Platforms and Be Highly Active

Social media is a massive asset to startups. It offers a platform to grow your online presence and brand identity, as well as an easy medium for engaging your audience and communicating your message in a powerful way. 

You can use social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat as a way to leverage brand awareness and value, but rather than spreading yourself thin trying to be on all platforms at once, rather find the platforms that work best for your startup and be highly present on those.  Keep in mind, your social platform where you have a presence should really depend on what your business does.  

For instance, if you had a startup clothing company, it would make sense to have a presence on the Poshmark app.  The reason?  Though niche, this might be the best social media platform to sell your clothing and grow a small loyal following. 

8. Prioritize SEO 

Search engine optimization is important to help startups be visible to customers and compete with known brands. 

Your startup needs a credible SEO solution. You can achieve this by conducting an SEO audit to find out how users interact with your site and social media platforms. To build better visibility in the SERPs (search engine results pages), look into SEO aspects, such as:

  • Website optimization
  • Page optimization
  • Device optimization
  • Credible link building
  • … and so on.

You need to understand the way SEO works, and, if necessary, hire an SEO specialist to help your startup grow quicker.  To go a step further, if necessary, you can use some udemy course discounts to get an expert to teach you many of these important concepts on a budget.


Digital marketing offers vast benefits for self-funded startups. By implementing these 8 digital marketing best practices, you’ll ensure that your startup operates from a firm foundation and you will be able to optimize growth and maximize profits even if you are operating on a shoestring budget. 

Which of the 8 digital marketing best practices appeals to you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Prof. Ron Stefanski is an online entrepreneur and college professor at NLU who helps people create and market their own online businesses.  Learn more about Ron by visiting 

You can also connect with him on YouTube or Linkedin, or on his Facebook Community.

P2P at NLU: Making the dream of college a reality for students with disabilities

The Path to Academics, Community, and Employment (P.A.C.E.) program at NLU has been making a difference for students with intellectual, learning, and developmental challenges for 34 years. Through PACE, our students are given the opportunity to join a wide-ranging college program including career preparation, independent living skills coaching, practical and functional academic courses, and social development in a curriculum focused on experiential learning.

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Early College at NLU: Accelerating Students Toward Future Success

It is no great secret that today’s high school and college graduates are preparing to enter a historically challenging job market. In an economy in which the competition for quality jobs has steadily been growing more intense, the arrival of the covid-19 virus in March of 2020 has only exacerbated the difficulties today’s students are likely to face. With covid-19 rewriting so many of the received rules about the organization and demand for work, students will inevitably look for a leg up wherever they can find it.

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Warm Up This Winter with Irish Coffee!

John Laloganes

Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management

Found of the Wine Professional (WP) Program

Irish Coffee is a hot, creamy classic drink and has been a favorite in Irish pubs with a popularity that may rival a great stout. Irish Coffee may not be the first coffee-based drink with alcohol, but this cocktail has become one of the most famous. It combines rich black coffee with Irish whiskey, brown sugar, and lightly whipped cream.

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