Senior Frank Hopper is a unique individual in the sea of public relations majors at Illinois State University. He has a keen mind for his passions like public relations and politics, and anything else to which he sets his mind. Aside from his professional experience and goals, Hopper has a big heart and a great sense of humor.
Tell us about yourself.
Outside of public relations, I have been involved in student government, local and state politics, and I have had some pretty cool jobs and internships. Two that come to mind are my internship with the United States Senate and my internship with a communications agency in Washington. I did some really cool things and meet some amazing people. Outside of my professional life, I like to read and stay active—so if you ever want to go on a hike or have a good book or article recommendation, let me know.
What are your responsibilities as national liaison?
I develop professional networking opportunities for members by coordinating with professionals involved in the Public Relations Society of America and other professionals in the industry. I also organize tours with public relations agencies in the Chicago and St. Louis markets.
What attracted you to the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America and the public relations industry?
I joined ISU PRSSA because I wanted to make the most of my time at ISU, and I knew PRSSA would help me do that. I am in love with the public relations industry because it truly is the cutting edge. It is full of passionate people that work hard, and I love that about it.
What is your dream career?
I have about four right now, so I will have to let you know what happens. Stay tuned!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
All I can say is that I will be working hard at something that I love doing. I would also love to be traveling a little and maybe have kids. Maybe.
What is an interesting fact about you?
I spent three years working as an emergency medical technician. I saw some crazy things and helped a lot of people.
How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a good guy who cares about people and their future.
Questions composed by Lily Sherer
Whether in the classroom or on the track, you shouldn’t be surprised to see her at the front of the pack. Leaders with her drive, vision, and passion are what make the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America a great organization. Meet the spring 2015 Newsletter Chair Kimi Sanden.
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up on a farm in a small town in northwestern Illinois. I came to ISU for the incredible opportunity to join the cross country and track and field teams. In my time at ISU, I have ran too many miles to even count; studied abroad in England, France, and the Netherlands; and discovered an incredible passion for the public relations industry through the School of Communication and my experiences in PRSSA.
Why did you join the relations committee?
I joined the relations committee because I finally realized that great writing is extremely important not only in the public relations industry, but also every other industry. I jumped out of my comfort zone when I volunteered to write my first “Senior to Watch” article for the blog, PRecisely PR, but now I feel that I am a strong writer and enjoy encouraging others to write as well.
What is one opportunity you're grateful for within ISU PRSSA?
ISU PRSSA offers an incredible amount of opportunities to its members. The experience I am most grateful for is when I represented our Chapter as a delegate at the 2015 PRSSA National Assembly in Portland, Ore. It was a weekend filled with networking with other Chapter delegates, learning great lessons from the current PRSSA National Committee, and casting my vote on the new National Committee. It was definitely something I will never forget.
What is one thing you look forward to most about the Chapter's future?
I look forward to watching the new members grow and learn about public relations through actively participating in ISU PRSSA Chapter meetings, agency tours, guest speaker events, and workshops. I discovered my passion for public relations through joining ISU PRSSA my sophomore year and looked up to the senior students as role models. Their experiences helped me form a better idea of what I needed to accomplish early on in order to land a job after graduation. I look forward to being that mentor next year and encouraging new members to step outside their comfort zones to help them discover what they’re most passionate about as well.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to yourself as a freshman?
I would tell my freshman self is to work hard, be patient, and do not sweat the small stuff.
Questions composed by Dillon Maher
You may not believe it, but our Chapter president, senior public relations major Cassidy Obis, was a shy member when she transferred to here. The Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America has helped her grow personally and professionally, and she is ready to take on the post-graduate world.
Tell us something about yourself that is not on your resume.
I’m a crazy cat lady (sort of). I also love to read, write, and cook. I’ve played softball since I was 3 years old, and my biggest regret is stopping after high school. I used to be a Golden Gopher; I attended the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. My goal is to visit all 50 states and have a meaningful experience in each. I would also love to travel across Europe one day.
What are your responsibilities are president?
As president, I’m responsible for overseeing the entire Chapter. I love my position because I’m able to be involved in everything going on within our Chapter. I especially love working with the younger members because I was in their shoes only a couple years ago. Some of them have such amazing motivation and drive. I wish I had been that dedicated as a freshman or sophomore. I also am able to work with incredible people on executive board that I’ve grown so close to over this past year. Together, we’re responsible for implementing all of the programs and opportunities we have for members.
When you were a sophomore member, did you know you wanted to be president?
As a sophomore, I would have laughed if someone said I would be president. I was so shy it was painful. I didn’t make myself known, and I would just sit in the back of the development committee. Older members in the Chapter had no idea who I was; I was called out at a social once because nobody knew I was a member—I was mortified.
Outside of Fell and Schroeder Hall, what can we find you doing with your “free” time?
What is “free time!?” But really, I’m lucky to have a few hours of “free time” each day. I love what I do and everything that I’m involved in, so I enjoy getting my work done. PRSSA obviously takes up a lot of my time, but I knew into what I was getting myself. Since it’s my last semester of college, I’ve really had to force myself to take “me” time and just relax. I don’t want to look back and wonder where my four years went. I’ve starting putting a couple hours on my calendar each day to relax and do what I enjoy, especially reading.
How has PRSSA prepared you for the professional world?
PRSSA has prepared me for the professional world in so many ways -- and probably more than those of which I’m aware. During interviews, I’ve been able to draw on numerous PRSSA experiences. Being an executive board member has taught me so much about what it means to be a leader. I’ve also had to handle several people-related conflicts this year, which has taught me so much about personnel management. Overall, PRSSA has taught me about and how to work with people.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I recently accepted an internship position with Reputation Partners, a public relations firm in Chicago that focuses on enhancing, protecting, and rebuilding corporate reputations and brands. I’m excited to enter the fast-paced agency life with a focus on what I’m interested in: corporate communication. It’s the best of both worlds as far as I see it.
Questions composed by Ali Seys
Hard work and dedication to benefiting others has helped sophomore Dillon Maher excel in his leadership role within the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Maher’s drive not only makes him stand out in ISU PRSSA, but also within the ISU student body.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a sophomore majoring in public relations and minoring in civic engagement and responsibility. The most important thing in my life is my faith; as a Christian, I try to see everything through the lens of my relationship with Jesus.
I am from a small town of about 850 people. A lot of people from Chicago or the suburbs say that moving to Normal, Ill., is weird because it’s so small, but it’s a lot bigger and different from that to which I’m used. Transitioning into life at ISU has been easy because of the great friends and community I have found here.
What are your responsibilities as relations manager?
As relations manager, I oversee all of our Chapter’s publications, including our member and alumni newsletters and blog. I edit every article or post that gets published, as well as plan out an editorial calendar and work with the committee chairs to decide what we will cover.
What makes a great writer?
This may sound cliché, but one of the biggest criteria for me is that a great writer must put effort in what they write. When you take the extra time to craft the perfect sentence, to pick the best word, and to critically proofread, it definitely shows.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My parents always stressed treating others with respect and doing good work. Every opportunity I have taken advantage of has been a result of one or both of these rules. I believe that if you treat others right and work hard, good things will come to you. That’s how I went about the process to become the newsletter chair last semester, became the relations manager this semester, and plan to move forward.
If you could relocate anywhere, where would you choose and why?
I wouldn’t want to relocate there permanently, but I would love to live in Europe for a period of time. I had my first experience in Europe this semester when I traveled to Germany over spring break, and I fell in love with it. I’m studying abroad in Paris this summer, and I couldn’t be more excited to return.
Questions composed by Melaina Chromy
Brett Cozzi is a junior public relations major at Illinois State University from Elmhurst, Ill. He hopes to land a job at a public relations agency or work for the communications department for Team USA. At some point in his life, he would also like to take a summer to volunteer for the National Parks Service at Yosemite National Park in California.
Tell us about yourself.
I enjoy the outdoors, being active, and meeting new people. I love hiking, camping, kayaking, rock climbing, hockey, and dogs. I have three dogs and two sisters in my outdoor-enthusiast family.
Why did you decide to join the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America?
I decided to join ISU PRSSA to gain pre-professional experience in the public relations field. Along with building a portfolio through ISU PRSSA, the opportunity to network, work in a team, and make new friends grabbed my attention and helped me decide to join.
What is your dream job?
I’ve played hockey my entire life, so I’d be lying if I said that my dream wasn’t to be a professional hockey player.
Why did you decide to come to ISU?
My sister attended ISU and graduated three years ago, so I’ve always had an interest in the school after all the visits and good times I’ve had here with family and friends.
Who inspires you?
My father, Michael Cozzi, inspires me. We share all the same interests and hobbies. My father passed away after a two-year battle with lung cancer. He never smoked and stayed positive even in his last days with us. My father taught me to never let go of my dreams and that anything is possible if you have the right mindset and motivation. I lived at home and attended community college during his last two years with us; hanging out with him everyday is something I will cherish forever.
What is something most people do not know about you?
Most people don’t know that I am an excellent skate sharpener. I work at Total Hockey in Elmhurst where I sell hockey equipment, sharpen hockey skates, and watch hockey games.
What is your favorite memory of ISU so far?
My favorite memory at ISU so far is meeting a new group of friends while slack lining on the quad.
Questions composed by Melissa Guerra
She brings the best work out of our members, and her love for current events and strategic communication will help her become successful in the world of political communication. Meet the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America’s blog chair, Melaina Chromy.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a junior transfer student majoring in public relations and minoring in political science. I love writing and communication—especially analyzing and creating strategic messages. For as long as I can remember, dinnertime at my home has been the time where my family rehashes their day and discusses current events. This “current event environment” has developed my love for political communication. Sitting around the dinner table with my family discussing what certain politicians meant by what they said, and how they were communicating to achieve their goals, helped create my desire to be a public relations major. When I am not caught up thinking about what I would say if I was the White House press secretary, I love spending time with my family, hanging out with friends, and drinking coffee.
What has been your favorite experience in ISU PRSSA?
I recently went on my first tour with ISU PRSSA. I loved connecting with other members outside of Chapter meetings and learn from public relations professionals. The experience was invaluable professionally. This day was my first time driving into downtown Chicago, which was quite the experience! The members packed in my car may have been traumatized by the battle cry I let out when I had to suddenly change lanes downtown.
What is one thing most people do not know about you?
I am in love with British television and a PBS junkie. I absolutely adore murder mysteries. When summer approaches, my Sunday nights are reserved for “Masterpiece Mystery.” There is a certain depth to British murder mysteries that is not common in American television; I love dissecting and analyzing the puzzle. I am a fan of “Inspector Lewis,” “Grantchester” “Miss Marple,” “Endeavour,” and “Wallander,” to name a few.
What are your responsibilities as blog chair?
As blog chair for our Chapter, I assign blog posts to members, then edit and publish them on our website. Staying on top of various deadlines is important, and my time management skills have grown as a result. Most of my time goes into editing blogs. I enjoy putting my writing skills to work and bringing out the best in our members’ work. When I see common AP style errors, I discuss them at our relations committee meetings. I also discuss current events that may relate to the public relations industry.
What are three things on your bucket list?
1) I love ice skating but have never been to an outdoor rink. Rinks are often crowded, and I love to skate fast so my dream is to visit The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada. The Forks is the longest ice skating rink in the world. The huge skating “rink” is located on the frozen Assiniboine River and Red River. I would love to skate as fast as I want over a long distance.
2) I want to visit Jerusalem because I have heard it is a life-changing trip. I think it would be amazing to visit a place that would materialize my faith and give me the opportunity to experience a different culture.
3) I really want to see the northern lights. I do not know what country in which I want to see them, but as long as the scenery and food is good, I am game.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I hope I will be married and living closer to my family in Calgary, Canada. I would love to live near the Rockies or in the Pacific-Northwest. I hope I have a successful career and that I love whatever public relations work I am doing. Life can change so much in a short period of time. It’s hard to plan the future, but I think it’s important to dream and be open to whatever opportunities life throws our way.
Questions composed by Tyler Krivich
Chelsey Maszczyk's love for experiencing new cultures will kick-start her degree in communication studies. Maszczyk hopes to find a career where her major and coursework can complement each other. This go-getter is ready to use her creativity and dive into the professional world, but first, building her resume is essential. This part is where the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America comes into play.
As a newcomer to ISU PRSSA, Maszczyk is taking advantage of all of the opportunities the organization offers. Public relations is a newfound passion for the senior, so joining ISU PRSSA was a natural decision for her. Maszczyk joined the development committee this year. She has enjoyed brainstorming when it comes to socials and fundraisers. Maszczyk knows these event planning experiences will help her in her professional career.
Maszczyk interned with the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company in Oakbrook, Ill. She worked with a number of different departments within the company, but primarily focused her work in the information technology area. She was able to thoroughly understand what keeps the business running.
This senior has also studied abroad in Paris, a memory she will cherish for the rest of her life. Spending the summer with young professionals and testing her intercultural communication skills was an amazing opportunity. The most important takeaway from the trip was learning how to connect with others who have a completely different cultural background. Maszczyk is planning a trip back to Paris in the future, and she is nothing but excited.
Always willing to try new things, Maszczyk has one suggestion for students, and that is to network. After hearing the word “network” a million times as a student in the School of Communication, she has taken that advice as a challenge. She has learned that others are willing to help you if you show them determination and hard work.
Maszczyk has a unique personality and is full of surprises. She loves music and has been singing and playing cello since she was little. In her free time, she loves drawing and painting. Maszczyk is a huge family girl. Living with her parents, older sister, grandfather, and five pets is a blast. If she could go anywhere in the world, she would visit Poland. A rich family history lies within that country; Poland is where her grandparents grew up.
Although she regrets not joining ISU PRSSA before her senior year, the friends and opportunities it has provided her have aided in Maszcyk’s growth as a professional.
By Cindy Kirchner
On Wednesday, April 15, the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America will host an organ donation awareness event at Milner Plaza. The event runs from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event aims to promote the benefits of organ donation, register new donors, and honor ISU students who have given the Gift of Hope in a time of tragedy—most recently Michael Collins and Ben Allison. Attendees can pick up a sticker that reads "I'm a donor in honor of," sign a pledge promising to talk about donation with friends and family, and take a chance at our donation fact vs. fiction game to win prizes. Normal Mayor Chris Koos, as well as ISU President Dietz and Senator Jason Barickman will be on-site at 1:30 p.m. to show their support for organ donation. Will you be there?
In Illinois, 5,186 people are on a transplant waiting list, and on average, 18 people die every day while waiting for a lifesaving donation. The Redbird family knows tragedy, but we also know the support of a community and the impact we can make when we come together. Let's rally together to honor the Redbird legacy of giving hope, and make a difference in not only our community, but in the state by raising awareness for organ donation.
Junior ISU PRSSA member, Brett Cozzi, hopes his personal connection to organ donation will encourage other students to register as donors.
“My father believed in organ donation and showed his support by registering as a donor; the demand far exceeds the supply. My father passed away after a two-year battle with lung cancer. He never smoked and was always active cycling, hiking, and even cross-country skiing. After he passed, the only donation he could give was his corneas. Weeks after he entered the eternal life, we received a thank you letter from the Illinois Eye Bank. My father’s final act of charity is an example of the goodness and kindness in our world. A woman from Chicago has her eyesight restored and can enjoy life to the fullest. My father’s donation goes a long way and truly reflects the type of man he was. Make a difference and become an organ donor; you could save a life.”
The community is encouraged to also show its support for organ donation at one of the off-campus locations. Applebee’s on Veteran’s Parkway is offering a 10 percent discount from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for organ donors. You can also register to be a donor there and receive the discount. From 5– 10 p.m., 15 percent of proceeds from Jason’s Deli will go back to the ISU PRSSA Donate Life event. Panda Express is donating back to the event the whole day, and Enhance Salon is donating all tips back on Tuesday, April 14 and Wednesday, April 15. Many other Bloomington-Normal organizations donated to help make the on-campus location a success.
You can help promote the event or follow along by using the hashtag #DonateLifeISU. We hope to see you at one of our locations on April 15!
By Ali Seys
Miranda Pietschman is an Illinois State University junior who is determined to make a change in the world. After transferring to ISU last fall, Pietschman joined the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Between internship experience and study abroad plans, she is ready for the future.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a junior and 22 years old. I’m majoring in public relations. When I graduated from high school in 2011, I was set to attend American University in Washington, but I had quite a shock when I received the first tuition bill. I took a year off school to work and save money. I then attended the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Ill., where I earned my associate degree. I transferred to ISU last fall.
Why did you join ISU PRSSA?
My best friend’s dad ran his own consulting business for nonprofit organizations, so when he advised me to join ISU PRSSA, I didn’t hesitate. When I finally transferred here, I was repeatedly told about all the benefits of joining. It wasn’t a hard decision to make because I knew I would get so much out of it.
Besides ISU PRSSA, what other organizations are you involved in?
Last semester I worked at 103.3 WZND in the public relations department. I also hold two internships; one with Young Women’s Christian Association McLean County and another with Arc Media. This upcoming summer, I will study abroad with the School of Communication in Paris.
Describe your dream job.
I am really passionate about social change, organizational sustainability, and environmental advocacy, and health and fitness. So, finding a job in any of those fields would be amazing.
What is something a lot of people don't know about you?
I’m obsessed with a few movie series like “Batman,” “Spiderman,” “Thor”…basically all superheroes (besides “Superman”). I love “The Hunger Games” and anything with Jennifer Lawrence in it.
What is your favorite ISU memory so far?
I’d have to say getting my internship at YWCA has been my best memory. I have learned so much from working there and have experienced so many different things. It’s been such an amazing insight into not only what type of work I want, but it’s also taught me so much regarding the tactical side of public relations and marketing.
Who inspires you?
I think people in general inspire me. I love to meet new people and hear their stories because I learn something from each and every person I meet. People amaze me when they rise above adversity, unite for a common purpose, or even stand their ground when push comes to shove.
Questions composed by Nicole Weishaar
Determination and hard work helped Yessenia Nunez become the first member of her family to go to college-- and upon graduation in December her hard work will materialize. Upon transferring to Illinois State University last year from Illinois Valley Community College, Nunez continued learning all she could about public relations and joined the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Nunez says that being a public relations major has taught her the importance of not procrastinating and staying organized. Nunez said, “I like that I have options, and I have always imagined myself in the busy world of public relations.”
Nunez also remarked on the benefits of joining PRSSA. “ISU PRSSA has so many opportunities, and I really enjoy the times we all laugh together and can relax. It is nice to be able to have a laugh and meet new people.” Nunez went on to say that the most important thing she has learned from ISU PRSSA and attending ISU has been to not compare herself to others, but rather to always work at her own pace and be proud of what she can do.
When she is not doing school work or participating in ISU PRSSA, Nunez takes it upon herself to explore opportunities outside of ISU’s campus, such as volunteering at the Humane Society of Central Illinois, which she visits once a week. “I do whatever they ask me to do. I clean, do laundry, and walk the dogs. Some jobs are not so glamorous, like cleaning the kitten room, but I do get to play with the animals afterward.”
Nunez says that her biggest motivation to keep an open mind and take on all the opportunities presented to her is her family. “I am the first person in my entire family to graduate from college, so that is really exciting for us. I have three younger brothers who have been my ultimate motivation.” When asked about what she hopes to accomplish in the field of public relations, Nunez said, “I hope to do something with event planning, so I can take my excellent organizations skills to any job I land.”
Even with the life-changing event of graduation approaching quickly, Nunez stays grounded. When asked to describe herself in three words, Nunez simply said, “Hardworking, goofy, and an old-soul.” She then explained, “Hardworking: I’m the first of my family to go to college, and I take it very seriously. I go to school full time, work part time, volunteer, and then there are the endless hours of homework. Goofy: I love making people laugh and getting a reaction so I will do anything and probably wear anything to make others laugh. I worked at an ice cream parlor for seven years, and three summers in a row I dressed up as an ice cream cone and danced outside with a dancing chocolate sundae and a banana.” And lastly, “Old-Soul: I’m not the average 21-year-old. I love everything antique, and when I hang out with my friends, staying in is my favorite.”
Interview by Chloe Kasper
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.