Marketing personnel at the University of St. Thomas hope a new advertising campaign for the college will teach the general public what it means to be a Tommie.

The St. Paul university launched a campaign this week that features stories of several of its students, from a sophomore whose company uses virtual reality to help Alzheimer’s patients to a senior who started a nonprofit to provide Gambian mothers with resources for their newborns.

“It was really more about how do we tell this story, the academic excellence story of St. Thomas, in a compelling way with some of these proof points of our Schulze School of Entrepreneurship and [School of] Engineering as well as some of the other parts of the secret sauce to St. Thomas,” said Kymm Martinez, chief marketing officer at St. Thomas.

The ads will run as television commercials viewable in Minnesota with some spillover in Wisconsin and Iowa (including during the Academy Awards broadcast on Sunday), radio spots, billboards and online in longer video form. The campaign is a continuation of similar marketing that St. Thomas tried last year with positive results.

The campaign aims to create general awareness of the university outside the Twin Cities metro area.

Marketing has become a larger priority in higher education as schools compete for students and look to heighten their appeal.

Martinez, who previously worked for years in the marketing department of General Mills, said she was excited to bring her marketing skill-set from the corporate world to St. Thomas.

“This is a much different decision than buying a box of cereal,” she said. “This is obviously a very expensive, very profound, very transformative experience for people. … How do we make sure we are equipping people with the right stories about St. Thomas?”

The new spots feature personal stories from students Enzo Vinholi, an entrepreneurship major and founder of virtual reality company Like It Was Yesterday, and Fatoumata Jaiteh, a biology of global health major and creator of the nonprofit From Mother To You, as well as undergraduates who are working on research for a device that would use the power of a beating heart to run a pacemaker.

While St. Thomas used an outside company to help with some of the production of the videos, most of the campaign work was done in-house. A growing number of businesses are using internal marketing departments to handle more of their advertising needs.