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
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
Lily Sherer is the skilled writer behind the keyboard of the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Her passions range from fashion, to writing, to gender equality. These passions, along with her naturally curious personality, led her to the public relations major at ISU.
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Bloomington-Normal, Ill., so I am a proud “townie.” I attended Heartland Community College for my associate degree before transferring to ISU my junior year. I changed my mind about what to major in quite a bit – I fluctuated between fashion, sociology, and communication. My adviser enrolled me in Introduction to Public Relations, and from then on I knew public relations was the field for me. It combines many of my interests and passions: writing, design, knowledge about people, and strategic thinking. I became involved with ISU PRSSA right after I transferred, which has completely shaped the trajectory of my career. Now as a senior, I am the Digital Media Director for ISU PRSSA and the marketing and public information intern at Heartland Community College.
What are your responsibilities as Digital Media Director?
As Digital Media Director, I manage the Chapter's Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts. I edit and update our websites, including isuprssa.com. I photograph all Chapter events and keep track of all Chapter and member accomplishments. I also serve as an adviser for the relations committee and am a part of the editing process for Chapter publications.
How do you feel you have contributed to the success of ISU PRSSA?
I believe I have contributed to the success of ISU PRSSA by bringing the Chapter to a global audience through social media. It has been rewarding to participate in PRSSA National Twitter chats. One of my goals has been to make our social media presence more robust for our external audiences and solidify our Chapter’s reputation as a thought leader within the PRSSA community. I also created a Facebook group for our internal publics to stay informed. This spring semester we are about to launch an Instagram campaign called #RedbirdPR Stories, a way to feature our members every week and bring more of a storytelling element to our Instagram.
What is an interesting fact about you?
My family and I are all musical and artistic. I play the flute and enjoy jazz singing, although I prefer expressing myself to music through movement – whether that be through figure skating or dance. I figure skated from about age 8 to 17, participating in various local competitions and ice shows. Now, it’s pretty likely you can find me dancing in my car or while hanging out with friends. I’m known to have a few signature quirky dance moves that always amuse. The artistic part of me comes out when I am involved in the design side of public relations and in my love affair with typography.
What has been your favorite opportunity from PRSSA?
One of my favorite PRSSA experiences was serving as the national delegate for our Chapter at PRSSA 2014 National Assembly. I met so many amazing new friends from all over the country that share the same passion for the public relations industry as I do.
What do you want to be your legacy?
I describe myself as a free spirited, critical thinking individual. I will be satisfied in life if I can continue to spread my joy and build others up. At some point in the future, I want to work toward advancing greater gender equality and help progress the health of women globally. In these areas, Hillary Clinton and Emma Watson have been my role models.
Where do you see yourself after graduation?
After graduation, I hope to gain experience working either for a public relations agency or as an executive speechwriter. I also see myself in a social media position for an organization, as that comprises much of my background. All in all, I am keeping an open mind about the future, and I am excited to see where life will take me.
Questions composed by Kellian Reed
Senior public relations major Bridget Anders transferred as a junior to Illinois State University after attending Parkland College for two years. Anders is from a tiny town with a population of approximately 2,100 people. Coming from such a small town and attending a high school with about 160 students total, Anders decided she wanted to embark on a journey that would satisfy her curiosity about the world and its endless opportunities
Tell us about yourself.
I am finishing up the first semester of my senior year. After transferring last year, I became involved very quick. During my time at ISU, I have been involved with the Public Relations Student Society of America, which is one of the largest registered student organizations on campus. After joining last year, I decided to apply for and was chosen to be a part of the executive board. Aside from ISU PRSSA, I am an undergraduate teaching assistant for COM 178, the Introduction to Public Relations course; a School of Communication Promotion and Development intern; and an advisement office front desk attendant
What are your responsibilities as the ISU PRSSA secretary?
I am in charge of composing all PowerPoints, meeting minutes, and agendas, as well as maintaining the Chapter email account, creating and analyzing surveys for Chapter improvement, and coordinating all philanthropic efforts. I am also an adviser to the relations committee, which requires me to edit Chapter publications.
What is an interesting fact about you?
Last summer, I studied abroad in Paris. I am a major foodie; I have a constant craving for pizza, and cheese is the best kind.
Where do you see yourself after graduation?
I am interested in working in agency public relations and incorporating my passion of branding and international communication.
What is your advice to underclassmen considering a career in public relations?
It is okay to not know what you want to do, but once you think you know, dive in. If you are interested in public relations, get involved now, look for internships, and talk to professors.
Questions composed by Allie Trosper
Meet the Executive Board
With the first week of classes in full swing, the executive board is excited for this year’s Chapter meetings and events to begin. Besides preparing for the school year, each board member also completed an internship this summer. Meet the 2014-2015 executive board and learn about their summer internships!
Cassidy Obis, president
Cassidy is a senior public relations major and psychology minor. She spent her summer as the public affairs and media relations intern at COUNTRY Financial corporate headquarters. Her major project for the summer was assisting in the planning and execution of COUNTRY Youth Classic, which attracts hundreds of youth golfers. Her responsibilities included coordinating volunteers, planning the COUNTRY Skills Challenge and working on-site at the tournament. Cassidy also created permanent web content and promotional materials that support community events and programs. As president, Cassidy is excited to see the changes and growth within the Chapter this year. She will strive to make PRSSA a positive experience for all involved and that our members are proud to wear those five letters. When she’s not in Fell Hall, Cassidy can be found jogging or trying out new recipes.
Ali Seys, vice president
Ali is a senior public relations major and agriculture minor. This summer, she was a marketing intern at Wyffels Hybrids, an independent seed corn company in Geneseo, Ill. She worked with internal communications on the company’s weekly newsletter and helped write and proof advertising materials for the marketing department. She also presented to nearly all 120 employees at the National Sales and Marketing Meeting and traveled to Indianapolis to network at the Ag Media Summit. Ali had the opportunity to dip her hands in multiple areas of public relations this summer and expand her skills. She is excited to apply her knowledge to help grow the Chapter this year and beyond. Ali is most excited about traveling to Washington for National Conference this fall! When she’s not in Fell Hall, Ali is most likely watching “Grey’s Anatomy” or playing soccer.
Bridget Anders, secretary
Bridget is a senior public relations major. She split her summer by studying abroad and holding an internship. She studied in Paris at the Novancia Business School focusing on international marketing for the first half of summer. When she returned, she interned at Heartland Community College (HCC) as the alumni relations intern. At HCC, she managed the social media, created permanent web content, interviewed alumni and worked special events. She is grateful for how much she learned over the summer but is excited that the school year has started. When she’s not in Fell Hall, Bridget is watching “Scandal” or eating.
Lily Sherer, director of digital media
Lily is a senior public relations major. She spent her summer as the marketing and public information intern at HCC. Her responsibilities included promoting the professional image of Heartland’s brand, researching, writing and editing public relations materials, assisting in event planning, helping create marketing materials, supporting the college mascot program, and conducting social media. She loved to write and edit publications and work alongside such great role models. Lily also appreciated getting to know the marketing side of things and feels this internship made her a more well-rounded professional. This year, Lily is most excited about meeting new PRSSA members, being a mentor and experiencing National Conference for the first time! When she’s not in Fell Hall, Lily can be found watching “Seinfeld,” “The Office” or de-stressing in yoga class.
Lauren Vahldick, treasurer
Lauren is a senior public relations major. This summer, Lauren had two internships: one at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill. and another at Hashbrowns Café in Chicago. The two experiences were vastly different, which allowed her to experience a variety of tasks all under the umbrella of public relations. Every day was different at her Arboretum internship and provided her access to up-to-date programs and media lists. At Hashbrowns, she spent her time connecting with the media, local companies and Chicago food bloggers and hosted them to a free meal at the restaurant to tell them more about Hashbrowns. Between the two of these internships, Lauren feels as though she has gained valuable skills in the field she loves that will greatly benefit her in the future. When she is not in Fell Hall, Lauren is most likely watching “Scandal” and snacking on pizza.
Frank Hopper, national liaison
Frank is a senior public relations and political science double major. Frank took advantage of a great opportunity and lived, took classes and interned in Washington this summer. He interned at a public relations firm where he got hands-on experience working with strategic messaging, pitching, media relations and grass roots development. Frank also took classes through George Mason University and met some awesome political communication professionals in Washington. When he’s not in Fell Hall, Frank can be found in line at Dunkin Donuts, on a run or on the phone staying in touch with one of his best friends.
Nick Hebert, director of PRogressive Image
Nick is a senior public relations major. He spent his summer as a technology intern for District 87 schools in Bloomington, Ill. Nick’s main responsibility was coordinating a district-held conference to teach students and teachers new ways to use technology in the classroom. For Nick, working with students was very rewarding yet challenging, especially with the junior high school age group. Besides public relations, Nick is passionate about technology and was grateful for an outlet to share that passion with. When Nick’s not in Fell Hall, he can be found at the rec center or hanging out with friends around campus.
The executive board is beyond excited for what our Chapter is going to do this year. We invite students from all majors, current members or interested members to join us for our first meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 26 in Schroeder 138!
Any questions? Contact ISU PRSSA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Ali Seys, 2014-2015 vice president
Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Year in school? History, hobbies, favorite food?
Well, I grew up in small town called Rantoul, just north of Champaign. Throughout my high school years I always thought I would be a nurse. I originally was a nursing major at Parkland College and then I decided it wasn't for me, but I still wanted to be able to help people. And look at me now, I am a senior public relations major at Illinois State, working to create a better world. When I am not focused on my studies or PRSSA, I enjoy working out, trying new restaurants, and watching old movies or going see new ones. I also like spending time with my family when I have a chance to go home. I’m really close with my younger brother, and I try to visit him as much as I can at University of Illinois, where he goes to school. As far as food goes, pretty much everything is my favorite, but if I had to choose, it would be pasta or pizza. I also have a huge sweet tooth!
What made you choose to be a public relations major?
While I was a nursing major I worked at Carle Foundation Hospital in Champaign as a certified nurse's assistant. I realized a lot of my job would be charting on a computer, which I didn’t like. So, I decided I wanted to head in another direction with my career. Carle had a great public relations department, which is really what intrigued me about the industry. After I researched exactly what public relations entailed and all of its career opportunities, I decided it was a perfect fit! On top of all of that I would still be able to help people – or in this case, a variety of publics – better understand a company's story and mission.
Who is the one person in your life that you look up to the most?
This is an easy one, my dad. I’m super close with him, and I can tell him literally anything. He always gives me the best advice about whatever situation I'm in and knows the perfect thing to say. We are two peas in a pod. We both love food and enjoy coming up with new concoctions to eat. Recently, we thought it would be awesome idea to take chocolate covered doughnuts and put moose tracks ice cream on it, topped with Hershey's syrup of course. I guess you could say I get my sweet tooth from him. He is definitely my rock! My family in general is a huge support system for me, and I don't know what I would do without them.
What is one of your biggest accomplishments in your time at Illinois State University?
One of my biggest accomplishments while at ISU is being an undergraduate teaching assistant for COM 178 Introduction to Public Relations. I feel honored that Tom Lamonica would even think to ask me. Every day in that class is exciting and a treat of which to be a part. The best part about being a TA is having students look up to me, and I have the ability to give them guidance both in and out of academics. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am so honored I was chosen for it.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
If I could go anywhere I would probably want to go to Rome, Italy! I’m Catholic, so the importance of religion that exists there and being able to see the Vatican in person would be really special for me. Not only would that alone be an amazing experience, but the food and culture would be out of this world too. Many people don't know this, but my guilty pleasure is art history and architecture. Being able to go to Rome and see all that it holds in art history would be an indescribable experience.
Are you a night owl or an early bird?
I am definitely an early bird. My roommates make fun of me because I go to the gym at 5:30 a.m., but it's the only time I can go most days. I feel so much more productive in the mornings when I wake up early and would rather spend my evenings relaxing with those whose company I enjoy.
Do you have a personal motto?
Live in the present! If you dwell on things in the past, you can’t move forward, and it’s important to give everything you have today because there might not be a tomorrow.
What is one of your pet peeves?
My biggest pet peeve is when people are late. Everyone on the E-Board can tell you! I live by Dr. Smudde’s motto, “Early is on time. On time is late. Late is inexcusable.”
Where do you see yourself after graduation?
I don't have an exact plan yet, but after graduation I see myself in Chicago or on the East Coast, working in either sports or corporate public relations. I am really open to any option, but that is what I am thinking this far. I also hope to travel and experience different cultures abroad and even within the U.S.
Who has influenced you the most here at ISU?
I would have to say Tom Lamonica. I remember the first time I went to his office. I told him I wanted an internship and asked him what I had to do to get one. From that point on, he always made an effort to reach out to me like he does for all students. I admire that he’s loyal and tries to do right by everyone. He’s someone who truly cares about students, young professionals, and ISU in general. He has helped me to develop myself as a professional and to understand the industry and what it takes to survive in it.
If you could give younger PR students a word of advice, what would it be?
I would say don’t ever let defeat blind you from what you can do. You have to learn from those experiences, and don’t compare yourself to others. Try to be a better you, and let that drive you.
Questions composed by Calysta Will
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.