Texas Tech University

Media & Communication Alumna Has Built a Career Off Fried Chicken

June 17, 2024

Media & Communication Alumna Has Built a Career Off Fried Chicken

Megan Sprague has worked for Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wingstop and is now the Head of Public Relations at Raising Cane’s.

Megan Sprague has always given her all. 

It started as an exemplary member of the Girl Scouts. Then she competed in show jumping on horseback and made varsity cheer her first year of high school.

If someone asked her to jump, she'd ask how high – literally. 

“I've always been a hard worker,” Megan said. “I like to push myself and see how far I can go.” 

She left Denver after high school to attend Texas Tech University. Her mother graduated from Texas Tech in 1983 and Megan wanted to follow in her footsteps. 

After trying multiple majors, Megan finally found her fit in the College of Media & Communication's Public Relations & Strategic Communication Management (PRSC) program. The combination of writing, event planning and crisis management brought out her natural strengths. 

“I thrive in chaos,” she said. 

A year after graduating with her master's degree, that statement would be tested. While Megan would persevere, the road to finding herself would be paved in an unlikely form – fried chicken. 

High Standards 

Megan grew up in a family of four in Denver. She lived with her parents and younger brother Colin. Her childhood was happy; she was an outgoing kid and participated in every activity imaginable. 

Megan Sprague with her dog and stuffed animalsMegan Sprague with her dog in BluebonnetsMegan Sprague dressed up like a cowgirl

Wherever the action was, there was Megan. 

“Megan has always held herself to a high standard,” said Leslie Sprague, Megan's mother. “She isn't one to back away from a challenge. She goes looking for one.” 

When Megan's elementary school put on a play about American history, Megan wasn't interested in playing a tree. Rather, she led the production as Sacagawea with her American Girl doll strapped to her back. 

In addition to her American Girl dolls, Megan also loved her pets. Her whole family are animal lovers and there's always been a few furry friends in their home. This interest intensified when Megan first saw “The Saddle Club” on television. 

Megan Sprague with a horse

“For my ninth birthday my parents bought me a horseback riding lesson,” Megan recalled. “Little did they know what they had gotten themselves into.” 

Megan's parents realized the sport their daughter fell in love with came with a steep price tag. But the ship had sailed; Megan had her heart set on riding. For the next five years, Megan rented a horse named Sam. She trained regularly and began competing in show jumping. When she wasn't at school, she was at the barn. 

Megan Sprague on a horseMegan Sprague on a horse and holding ribbonsMegan Sprague holding ribbons

As Megan got older, her social life at school became more complicated. 

“I began to be badly bullied,” she said. “I tried to fit into a box or be whatever I thought people perceived as ‘cool.'” 

Leslie says horseback riding came at a good time for Megan. As friendships became harder, the barn was a good place to get away from it all. But when Megan got to high school, she had a choice to make.

In addition to being a show jumper, she also was a talented tumbler and wanted to try out for the cheerleading squad. The good news was she made varsity right away. The bad news was the cheer schedule left no time for riding. 

Megan Sprague holding a trophy

“I knew I'd miss riding, but there was no way I was going to watch all my friends cheer and sit on the sidelines,” Megan said. 

She gave herself fully to academics and cheer. Once, during a back-handspring, Megan came down on her hands in a way that instantly broke two fingers. She was playing violin at the time for an arts credit and her mother recalls how her daughter insisted on not receiving special treatment, even though her conductor told her she could sit out. 

“To Megan, broken fingers were not a reason to stop playing,” Leslie said. “She sat in the back of the room and did her best to keep up, not wanting to fall behind.

“That's just who Megan is.” 

Even with the extracurricular and academic success Megan experienced, she was feeling aimless. She was searching for purpose. 

“I really lost myself during that time,” Megan recalled, thinking back to high school. 

Wanting to reclaim her individuality, an out-of-state university became attractive as she neared college. Most of her classmates were set to attend Colorado State University or University of Colorado Boulder. Megan went through the motions of applying to those schools but also toured Texas Tech. 

“I loved the campus,” Megan said. “I instantly knew I wanted to go to Texas Tech.” 

Megan had waited pretty late to visit campus, and by the time she was interested, the deadline for applying was that very night. Megan sprang into high gear and finished the application in one day. 

Not only was she accepted but she also landed a spot in a residence hall. 

“I still don't know how they had a room for me,” she said. “I expected to be living in the middle of a field.” 

Texas Tech

Megan loved Texas Tech as much as she expected. She pledged Kappa Kappa Gamma her first year and made friendships she keeps to this day. 

Megan Sprague with her momMegan Sprague in front of the Kappa Kappa Gamma house

“The friends she made at Texas Tech became her people,” Leslie said. “Megan had always been a great friend, but Texas Tech provided people who cared about her just as much as she cared about them.”  

Megan planned to study nutrition. Then came the science and math classes. 

“I could have done them; I just had no desire to do that,” she said. 

Megan cycled through four or five other majors before landing on something that clicked. She wanted to help people, but she also was a strong writer and thrived in high-stakes situations. She had considered law, sociology and a few other options, but they just weren't right. 

A friend from Kappa suggested Megan investigate public relations. Megan was approaching the end of her second year. Time to choose a major was dwindling if she wanted to graduate on time. Her friend was in the public relations program and told Megan about the classes and what one could do with a degree in that field. 

“I don't think I knew public relations existed until then,” Megan said. “After all, if someone is doing their job right, you don't hear about it much.” 

But this got Megan curious about who kept things running smoothly for her favorite restaurants, magazines and retail stores. Whose job was it to avoid crises? How did you help a business protect its brand? 

Megan took a few courses and was hooked.

Professors such as Robert Wernsman and Chris Cook made indelible marks on Megan, personally and professionally. 

Wernsman took an already good writer and made Megan great. She became obsessed about acing AP Style and ensuring the grammar in her press releases was perfect. Over a decade later, she still keeps the binder from Wernsman's class on her desk. 

Chris Cook fascinated Megan with stories from his time as an associate athletics director at Texas Tech, working with coaches such as Mike Leach and Bob Knight. 

“Cook's class is where I fell in love with public relations,” Megan said. “Hearing about the highs and lows of the job and the press conferences he'd help coaches prepare for sounded like something I wanted to do.” 

Maybe not athletics exactly, but something with equally high stakes. 

After graduating with her bachelor's degree in 2014, Megan immediately began graduate school, staying at the College of Media & Communication. It took her only one year to finish a master's in mass communication. 

Megan Sprague holding diploma

As her graduate work ended, she needed to complete an internship. She wanted to work at Southwest Airlines but knew the internships were incredibly competitive. Due to a little luck but mostly hard work, Megan stood out as an ideal candidate. She moved to Dallas her last semester of graduate school and became a commercial communications intern for the DFW-based airline. 

“I loved it,” she said. “I got to do the craziest things.” 

Megan is referring to filming Southwest's “Live at 35” concert series, where artists are taken up in the planes. She also was interning when Southwest added Columbus, Ohio, to its routes. This involved a large soirée at city hall and an unveiling Megan was part of planning.

She even helped pull off a surprise wedding shower. 

“I'll never forget that day,” Megan laughs. “It was at one of the airports on the east coast and I went out to receive a shipment of 5,000 red roses.” 

The roses came in a big cooler, completely untrimmed. 

“I thought the flowers were already going to be arranged,” Megan said.

But when she arrived the roses were still on the stem, untrimmed with thorns all over; the wedding shower was happening in a few hours. 

Those were the early days of Uber, so Megan quickly ordered a ride. She called a car and went shopping for  vases and shears. She also bought a coat and mittens due to the floral cooler being kept around 36 degrees.

“I'd always been scrappy, but that was so cool,” she admitted. “I love having random problems to solve.” 

Megan went all in, trimming and arranging at least 2,000 of the 5,000 flowers for that night's big moment. 

“Those roses didn't change the world,” she said. “But they made all the difference for that couple.” 

A Deep Valley 

When Megan's internship ended, she wanted to work for Southwest full-time. They admitted they'd love to have her, but they simply didn't have any openings. 

“Southwest isn't known for high turnover, and I needed to put my degree to work,” Megan said. 

She applied to numerous jobs and got an interview with KFC for an internal communications specialist position. She landed the job and once again, went all in.

“That was my first experience with internal communications,” she said. “Ultimately, I wanted to do external facing communications, but that experience gave me good experience with a more holistic overview of a brand's communications, on all levels.” 

Megan was eventually put in charge of “Yammer,” KFC's internal social site and was trusted with projects that didn't necessarily fall under her official job description. 

“I wasn't going to let the grass grow underneath me,” she said. “I saw a need to generate more connectivity on Yammer. That's when the ‘Flat Colonel' campaign came to me.” 

Megan remembered “Flat Stanley,” the popular children's book that encouraged families to take photos with Stanley on their travels and upload them to an adventure gallery. She knew creating an immersive community like this was a hallmark of any successful public relations strategy. So, Megan tried her own spin on the idea. 

A Flat Colonel doll was made and shipped in a box to KFCs around the world. He visited locations around the U.S., as well as France, Spain and Ireland. 

By the time of that year's annual conference, the Flat Colonel had become a celebrity attraction, rallying employees around a shared experience eager to compare photos. 

Things were going well for Megan. 

KFC, however, hit hard times in 2016. By the end of the year, the company initiated mass layoffs, and unfortunately, Megan was one of those affected. The same week, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

“It was the perfect storm,” Megan said. 

Megan returned to Colorado to be there for her mom during treatment. The cancer she had was aggressive and recovery was a long road. Megan applied for jobs during the time she wasn't helping her mom. She was even able to get some contract work from KFC despite being laid off, a blessing she attributed to her hard work.

“When my mom got sick, we spent so much time together as a family and it was such a humbling time,” Megan recalled. “I had zero job leads and felt like time was fleeting yet also passing by at the same time.”

Once Leslie was out of the woods, Megan had a renewed sense of purpose.

“I wanted to be the best version of myself,” she said. 

To anyone else, it was hard to think Megan was ever anything but her best. But on the inside, Megan's efforts were still stemming from perfectionism and a desire to prove herself. 

“When my mom got sick it put a lot in perspective,” Megan said. “You just realize what's important. I feel like I had a renewed sense of what life was about and what it meant to be a good person. 

“When you're on your knees praying that your mom lives, the things you think are a big deal like what people think about you, they just don't matter anymore.”

Megan Sprague with her family

Megan determined what mattered most was how she treated others and being as authentic as she could be. This renewed focus paired with her work ethic acted as a catalyst for everything that happened next. 


The same girl who played violin with broken fingers didn't let her mother's cancer stop her from living life to the fullest. 

A job opened at Wingstop and caught Megan's attention. It was in the restaurant industry, which she was familiar with, and it offered opportunities to eventually do more external facing public relations campaigns.

Megan was invited for an interview and became the obvious choice. Christina Clarke was Wingstop's chief marketing officer at the time. She knew hiring Megan was a good idea but had no idea just how good it would be. 

“My first impression of Megan was, ‘Wow, this girl is amazing,'” Christina said. “Megan was going places and I wanted her on my team.” 

Christina and Megan only overlapped at Wingstop for a short time, but it was long enough for Megan to make a lasting impression. Christina had previously been PepsiCo's senior director of marketing, so she knew what it took to build a successful team for a large brand. 

She also understood the high stakes of working in the restaurant industry. She explains there are a lot of human variables, which means there are more ways things could go wrong. 

“If you're a public relations leader, you have to have a line of sight for both risk and reward,” she said. “I immediately recognized that in Megan.” 

Christina noticed Megan's acute attention to detail was balanced with a vision to look longterm. With this blend of skills, Megan was able to strengthen the Wingstop brand through messaging audits and enhancements. She also tried new things, rolling the dice when appropriate. 

One of those ideas was a campaign Wingstop rolled out at the beginning of 2020. Understanding the tone of the brand, the team rolled out a campaign in which they distribute thousands of shirts and hats with the wording “This is an ad for Wingstop,” on the front. It was tongue in cheek, but it worked. It connected with their audience and was picking up steam. 

Then COVID-19 hit. The campaign had only been underway a few weeks – a campaign which relied on people being in public spaces. 

“We had to pivot so quickly,” Christina recalled.

Megan was at the helm, quickly offering ideas on how the campaign could still work. She brought together the public relations and marketing team, along with media, to foster collaboration in crisis.

“If Megan had a fan club, I would be president,” Christina said. 

The next year, Christina left Wingstop, but Megan stayed and worked her way up. There were a few things Megan hadn't loved at the beginning of the job. She wasn't on the big projects she dreamed about, and she was still tasked with more internal communications than she'd have liked. 

But she did what she knew how to do. She rebranded. 

“I created a strong brand for myself,” she said, proudly. “So, a few years later when the director of public relations position opened up, leadership knew my work ethic, and I got the job.

“I could have sat in my earlier situation and thought, ‘Wow, I don't like this part of the job,' or thought I was too good for certain tasks. But not being in your dream role doesn't have to keep you from making an impact.”

Megan had made a big one.

Between setting up Cinco de Mayo parties for staff and helping Wingstop earn media coverage, Megan was ready when opportunity came knocking. 

In the years that followed, Megan accompanied the CEO to New York City to ring the Nasdaq bell, earned the trust and admiration of the leadership team, and was eventually promoted to chief of staff and senior director of public relations all less than 10 years out of graduate school. 

Megan said she would have missed those experiences had she had a different attitude. 

“After seeing my mom fight cancer, I just wanted to get out into the world and give it my all,” she said. “I see a lot of people let themselves become a victim of a job or certain responsibilities of a role. I wasn't going to do that.”

Megan looked at her earlier responsibilities as a chance to learn. And now, as she leads large teams, she's glad she got experience in each kind of role as she moved through her early career. 


In 2023, Raising Cane's approached Megan about an opportunity to become the head of public relations and she went for it. Still an animal lover at heart, the charitable work the brand was doing appealed to Megan. 

Megan Sprague with Raising Cane's colleaguesMegan Sprague in front of a Raising Cane's

“It's a good fit for her,” said Leslie, who is now cancer free. “Megan has been known to have multiple foster dogs in her house at one time.” 

When she visits her daughter, there is always a leash in the car in case Megan comes across a stray. Leslie has even been trained by Megan to do the same herself, and now finds herself chasing after animals back home.

But that's Megan, always gathering up those who need love. 

“Megan has a great passion for life,” Leslie said. 

Megan loves her job with Raising Cane's and enjoys working for a brand loved by so many, all centered around a dog name Cane. She recently helped deliver a check for more than $50,000 to a local animal shelter in Dallas, the one where she adopted her best friend, Bert. 

Megan Sprague with a dog

In lieu of not being able to foster dozens of animals in her home, Megan hopes to one day have land where she can start an animal sanctuary and get back to riding horses. 

“I don't regret cheerleading; it made me who I am today. But if you asked me which activity I missed more, it's riding,” Megan said. 

Little things like riding horses, helping stray animals and building a brand she believes in, all align with the authentic life Megan is building. She is exactly where she wants to be, and she got there with grit and hard work. 

“Back at Texas Tech, sometimes I'd compare myself to a student who had, like, four fancy New York City internships, and feel so discouraged,” she said. “Not that internships aren't valuable experiences, but I've found my work ethic and my attitude have opened all the same doors.” 

But one large question remains. For someone who has built her career off it, does Megan actually enjoy fried chicken?

“I get this question a lot,” Megan laughed. 

Afterall, Christina calls her the “Queen of Fried Chicken.”

“I eat a lot of different things and try not to eat fried chicken all the time, but when I do, my go-to is the Cane's box combo. I get it with the coleslaw and a lemonade,” Megan said. 

She confirmed the lemonade is, in fact, freshly hand-squeezed every day. 

“The whole premise of Raising Cane's is centered around a focused menu,” she said. “We've been doing the same menu, the same way, for years. Focus and intentionality sell.” 

And the premise has worked for Megan, too. What you see with Megan is what you get. 

Leslie is not at all surprised by the success her daughter has experienced at a relatively young age. 

“Megan is this positive, independent force,” she said. “She works on what she can control, not on what she can't. She's carved out her own space in the world and because of that, the world has opened wide for her.”

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