What do you feel like is your biggest accomplishment you’ve ever achieved while attending Illinois State University?
My biggest accomplishment was when the executive board presented a Chapter Development Session on building a strong executive board at the PRSSA National Conference this year. I spent so much time trying to perfect the proposal, and when I found out it had been selected, I nearly cried. Because only eight Chapters were chosen (there are over 280 total), it was definitely an honor. Speaking for the entire executive board, I can say that it was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I’m so grateful for their tremendous dedication to making our presentation the best that it could be. We practiced twice a week for over a month, and I was so proud that we didn’t need to use note cards because we were so well rehearsed and confident. The moderator actually had to end the Q&A so the next presenters could start because there were so many questions! Afterwards, other Chapters were tweeting about our presentation and emailing our account, requesting examples of our documents. It was by far my proudest moment and biggest accomplishment yet.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
That’s a really easy one. The “Roadtrip through America” apartment social in February was themed after four cities in the U.S.: New Orleans, Hollywood, Las Vegas, and Austin. Because I love costumes and costume parties, I ordered the most outrageous thing I could find and was super excited to wear it. Though my friends wore party dresses themed after Hollywood and Vegas, I decided to dress as a rabbit coming out of a magician’s hat (see photo). My mom thought I’d “never meet a guy that way,” but I was really into it. Lo and behold, I met my boyfriend there. He was not a member, but he came with his friend who was and let me tell you, I was mortified. Not only was I wearing a ridiculous costume, but I had a nose and whiskers drawn on my face. It was pretty much the complete opposite thing you’d want to wear around someone you thought was cute. However, Ryan attributes my costume and the fact that I was hopping down the road as the reason he liked me since, apparently, I seemed fun. We always joke that we never would have met had it not been for PRSSA, so that’s a good reason you should all attend our events!
Why did you choose public relations as your major?
So I know many people say they joined the major because they like to write, and I am no exception. However, I will say that not only do I enjoy writing, but I also love to read. I feel that since I spend so much time reading, I really appreciate good writing and love finding the perfect word to reflect what I’m writing about. I remember in high school, our dance team (for those of you who have witnessed my dancing, yes indeed, I somehow made the team) did a dance-off for breast cancer awareness. Though everyone liked the t-shirt slogan, “Keep the battle on the dance floor,” I spoke up and thought it may seem like we didn’t value the fight against breast cancer. We ended up not using the slogan, and that example always stands out to me as a reason I love this major so much. It’s the only field where people actually think that word choices do matter.
What is your favorite trip or vacation?
When I studied abroad with the School of Communication program to Paris, France, I took a lot of weekend trips. I was pretty lucky because my best friend, former PRSSA historian, Lauren Trentadue, was my roommate. We went to Rome, Italy, for the weekend, and it was by far my favorite vacation. I just wish it could have lasted longer. The weather was amazing. We toured the Coliseum and the Vatican, saw the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, and believe you me, I filled myself on gelato, pizza, and pasta during my time there. It truly was the best vacation ever.
What is the one thing that is number one on your bucket list?
My dad is a HUGE World War II buff, and when I studied abroad Lauren and I toured the beaches of Normandy, which was obviously a major event during the war. In addition, since my family is Christian, my mom is eager to tour the Coliseum because it was such a key location during Biblical times. My biggest bucket list items include being able to take my parents to those places. I feel so blessed to have been able to go to both places, and I would love to take my parents there to see what I saw. They’ve sacrificed so much for me, so it’s only fair.
Who is your hero?
Hands down, my mom. She has had so many life experiences and I admire her so much. I’m sure I don’t even know half of the things she has given up for my family, but from what I do know, I’m pretty lucky. Anytime I have good news or bad, she is the person I call because she’s always so honest with me. She’ll tell me if I’m being dramatic (surprisingly I do not usually agree) and give me advice when I’m upset. Everyone says their mom is the best, and that’s okay. As long as you feel that way, that’s all that matters, and that’s definitely how I feel.
Where do you see yourself after graduation?
I really hope to get an internship that will lead to an entry-level position in a large public relations agency in Chicago. I’ve narrowed down both my top choices and the qualities I look for in an employer. I’m so excited to start applying!
What will you miss the most about ISU and why?
Two words: Kobe Steakhouse. I just recently discovered sushi this year and am wildly obsessed with it. My life changed the day they told me they did take-out. On a more serious note, besides the people I’ve met here, I will definitely miss the quad and Uptown Normal. We’re so lucky to have not only a beautiful campus, but a great surrounding community as well. I think people don’t realize what an important factor that is when looking for a university, so I definitely appreciate it.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
Other than ISU PRSSA members, many people don't know that I'm really good at rhyming. Other than using my silly poems to congratulate member of the month winners, I also wrote one and was granted an override into a class after a professor asked, "Why should I give you the override over everyone else?" I really like creative writing, so I enjoy any excuse to make up a poem for someone!
What is one piece of advice you’d give to members?
I’d say to not worry so much about what other students around you are doing. I know it’s hard because the PR program is so competitive and it feels like everyone is doing more than you, but give yourself some credit. Are you working 20 hours a week? Do you have to pay for school? Do you have less internships, but you learned a lot in the ones you had? Everyone’s experiences will lead to different paths. Am I saying don’t try as hard as someone else? Absolutely not. But don’t use other people to judge how successful YOU are. You’re successful based on the work you put in, and others’ work can be inspirational to you to do even better. Be proud of what you’re doing and where it will lead you. And as always, please reach out if you ever have a question or need advice. Everyone at Illinois State is here to help, so take advantage of it!
Questions composed by Kailey Snider