As our seniors prepare to graduate, we thought it would be fun to share the end of year video created by secretary Melissa Fortes for our last meeting of 2013-2014:
What are your favorite PRSSA memories? Share in the comments!
Christmas Without Cancer was one of ISU PRSSA's student-run firm's clients for the 2013-2014 year with junior member Grace Johnson leading the PRi team for the account.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a junior public relations major. I am a townie, born and raised in Bloomington, Illinois. I like to read, run and occasionally binge-watch Netflix. I currently sit on the College of Arts and Sciences Council, and I am excited to start an internship at the Alumni Relations office this summer.
Tell us about Christmas Without Cancer.
Christmas Without Cancer is a non-profit organization that provides holiday gifts, as well as basic necessities to local families that are stricken with cancer. In 2003, Gerri Neylon, an oncology nurse at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., started the organization. She was moved by the struggles of families undergoing cancer treatments and the toll it takes on them emotionally, physically and financially. She began by “adopting” a family in need, and then asked friends and family for donations to provide Christmas presents and gift cards for items like gasoline and groceries. Since then, Neylon and her team have raised thousands of dollars for hundreds of families in the Southland area. She has had a strong hand in bringing suffering families out of the darkness of medical expenses. Neylon is a true inspiration.
Why did you want the Christmas Without Cancer account?
Cancer is very near and dear to my heart. My little brother, Grant, is almost 19 years old and has had cancer for 11 years. It is no exaggeration to say that his diagnosis shook our family to its core. After 11 years, we still have to work to find our new normal. Our family went to St. Jude Children’s Research hospital the day after he was diagnosed, and they saved his life. They are the reason he is still with me, and will likely be able to grow old with me. Additionally, we have not paid a single dime to St. Jude for Grant’s treatment. Their mission to save children at literally no cost to the family was our salvation. Unfortunately, not every family dealing with cancer can go to St. Jude. Expenses that come with cancer treatment can be debilitating. I have read stories about cancer patients in their 20s who have had to declare bankruptcy because they could not keep up with the medical bills. No one deserves to suffer because of inability to pay, and Christmas Without Cancer is doing something about that. Their donations allow families to stay afloat during trying times, and I think that generosity is remarkable and amazing.
What have you learned from being an account executive in PRSSA?
From a public relations perspective, this experience has taught me a lot about effective communication. It is definitely a challenge to coordinate with the CWC team from two hours away. Neylon and I have had to work hard to effectively communicate our vision and plans for different projects. CWC is a small nonprofit, but the network that they have created is incredible. Public relations fosters that network and helps it to grow and thrive. I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.
How will you use this experience in your future career?
Again, the communication strategies that I have learned through working with Neylon and her team will be useful throughout my career. The leadership experience has helped me to delegate and prioritize tasks and projects.
What is your dream job?
My dream job would be in international public relations. I love the idea that publics all over the world influence each other through trends and social media. I would love to go to another country to get another perspective and experience international public relations on a larger scale.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself working for an international agency where I can travel and work with public relations professionals in different countries.
Questions composed by Cassidy Obis
What is your favorite part about overseeing the newsletters in the relations committee?
Taking on a chair position in a committee in PRSSA has allowed me to be more involved in the Chapter. As a chair, I have met more members than I did as a regular dues-paying member last year. I’ve also gained an incredible amount of experience to put toward my future career and to include in my portfolio.
What have you learned from your leadership role overseeing the publications of the newsletters?
This year as the newsletter chair has been a great learning experience. I have learned a lot about management and leadership, and the difference between the two, when it comes to motivating members to write.
Why are you interested in public relations?
I have always loved writing and public speaking. I started researching public relations as a major and a career when I decided that an English major wasn’t for me. I still wanted to write and interact with people, but I didn’t want to teach. I was accepted into the public relations program at Illinois State University. I was still unsure of what it was and if it was for me, but every class I have taken since joining the major has assured me that public relations is the field I want to be in.
If you could have any job, public relations related or not, what would it be and why?
I would love to found my own nationwide – or even global – nonprofit organization. I have a passion for helping others, and I’d love to put everything I have learned with public relations and apply it to my own nonprofit business. Another dream job of mine is to be a famous country rock star living in Nashville, Tennessee. That would be pretty cool too.
As a senior about to graduate, what advice would you give to younger members of our Chapter or in the public relations major?
Take on a leadership role. I have learned so much this year from my leadership role in PRSSA. I learned a lot about my own management and leadership skills, as well as improved my own writing and editing skills. It is not always easy to have a position in any organization, but the benefits far outweigh the sleepless nights!
On a Sunday afternoon we can usually find you…
Working on a group project…or taking a nap in between group projects!
List three things on your bucket list.
1. Travel outside of the country
2. Have my own animal sanctuary
3. Swim with dolphins
(Bonus item: Land an awesome public relations job)
Questions composed by Lisa Crocco
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.