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
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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.