Last year, I published a list of future PR rock stars. Students (seniors or juniors) destined for PR greatness–as nominated by their PR professors. So, not just some ad-hoc list–but a list of students from across the country who have been hand-picked by the people who undoubtedly know them best.
It felt good to make that post. It felt good to get notes from professors thanking me for creating this list and telling me how much of a difference it makes for the students. It felt good knowing I was helping a class of students who, despite a better economy, still face an uphill battle on the hiring front.
It felt so good to put together that first list, I wanted to do it again this year. And, I wanted to expand the scope. Reach out to new professors I didn’t have a previous relationship with (big thanks for Dr. Freberg for the PR professors on Twitter list!). Bigger the better, right?
So, without more rambling from me, I give you our next generation of PR Rock Stars–the class of 2015.
Nominated by Dr. Tom Grier, Winona St. University
Julia Sand, @Julia_Sand
Julia is among the brightest, most dedicated, and energetic students I’ve encountered in 27+ years in higher education. She is editor-in-chief of The Winonan, WSU’s campus newspaper; she is president of the WSU Public Relations Student Society of America chapter; and she is executive director of the WSU St. Jude Up ‘Til Dawn organization; and she participates in several other campus clubs and organizations. She graduates this spring summa cum laude, and has already secured a position as an account executive intern at Skyya Communications in New York City. The old adage of “if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person” is a perfect fit for Julia. She excels at everything she does and is not afraid to try new things and offer to help in any situation.
Mallory Seifert, @MallorySeifert
Mallory is full of energy and positive attitude. She combines her Public Relations major and Psychology major well, working campus jobs that tap into both areas of expertise. Last summer she sought and earned a social media/editorial internship with New York Girl Style, a leading lifestyle media company where she wrote and published weekly articles, blog posts and social media content. Mallory is a campus ambassador for the WhatRUWearing online site and is actively seeking a PR internship for this summer after graduation. In class group projects and activities, Mallory is a respected leader and can be counted on to share constructive critique and help with fellow students.
Michael Whiting, @RealMikeWhiting
Michael is a naturally funny guy who actually is a stand-up comedian with dozens of shows to his credit. When he’s not telling jokes, Michael brings thoughtfulness and good humor to class and to group projects. He’s a good listener, helps other students with ideas and critique, and is looked up to for his natural leadership abilities. Through hard work and dedication, Michael almost single-handedly brought a chapter of the national Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity to the WSU campus and continues to be a leader in that group. Fueled by his love of travel, Michael applied for and earned a brand ambassador internship in Dublin, Ireland, with Insomnia Coffee Company, which he plans to start shortly after graduating this May.
Nominated by Marlene Neill, Baylor University
Demi Busby, @Demi_Busby
Demi was so motivated to be our PRSSA Chapter president that she produced a campaign video at multiple sites in Europe (http://prezi.com/lc3sck38u-ht/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy) while studying for a semester in Maastricht, campaigning from more than 5,000 miles away from her home campus. She previously served as PR Director for our chapter and has attended Regional PRSSA events. She has completed several internships including one in Washington, D.C. last summer.
Riki Burhans, @rikileeburhans
Riki demonstrated poise and confidence as she moderated a focus group with active and retired Texas Rangers (law enforcement agency) for an industry research methods course during the fall semester of 2014. She has a strong background in advertising, public relations and marketing and is skilled at primary research (surveys and focus groups). You can find her portfolio here: http://www.rikileeburhans.com/
Nominated by Kelli Burns, University of South Florida
Natalie Anastasia, @natanastasia
Natalie Anastasia is a junior at the University of South Florida with a bright future in the public relations industry. With a passion for storytelling and nomadic spirit, Natalie realized she could combine her love for writing and travel with a career in public relations. She currently interns at Paradise Communications where she assists in writing and researching press materials for clients such as the Dali Museum and Visit. St. Pete/Clearwater. Natalie is an entrepreneur at heart and hopes to one day open her own agency that represents a multitude of travel, luxury and lifestyle brands across the globe. She knows that public relations is a career path suited only for the most passionate and driven individuals, and she looks forward to making her mark on the world not only through her various adventures, but through PR as well.
Yunsoo Kim, @yunzbunz
You wouldn’t know it when meeting Yunsoo at first, but she’s quite the conversationalist. Not to mention a huge fan of all things PR, social media, and fashion related. Always a trendsetter and exuberant individual, Yunsoo absolutely loves communicating with people, and dreams of operating her own PR firm someday. She believes that above all else, experience is the best teacher. As a result, she does her best to get involved in events and connect with people she knows will help mold her into the future PR practitioner (or should I say, rock star) she sees herself becoming. Yunsoo understands that networking is important but beyond the simple passing of a business card and courteous e-mails, she wants to be a professional who builds and maintains solid and meaningful relationships with the people she works with. For Yunsoo, her favorite part about PR is the way it allows her to exercise her passion for people and for sharing messages with style, tact, and authenticity.
Nominated by Marcia DiStaso, Penn State University
Michael Johnson, @maj5260
Michael Johnson has a proven track record of success. He was a rock star in his work with the Navy, where he received multiple awards for his outstanding work and leadership. He gained valuable skills in his internship in Washington, DC, where he dealt directly with senior level management to develop government affairs materials and engage members of Congress. His work in analytics while at Penn State was used as part of a presentation to the local minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. While serving as the President of the veterans’ fraternity on campus, his chapter was selected to receive the Most Improved Chapter of the Year Award, and he received the President of the Year Award. He is driven by a desire to not only succeed, but make a difference in the lives of others in the process.
Jacqueline Laster, @JLaster16
A PR Rock Star should be able to do it all. Read up on clients, write incredible releases and pitches and communicate with ease. After spending four years at Penn State and obtaining three amazing internships, Jacqueline is a rock star on the rise. She has a passion for social media and she’s constantly seeking out new trends within the PR world. With a focus on consumer goods and the beauty industry, she will strive to get products off the shelf and onto a magazine or television screen. She has worked for top names such as Kiehl’s Since 1851, philosophy and Morgan Stanley. She is a product junkie, and is hopelessly addicted to finding the, “next big thing.”
Nominated by Karen Freberg, University of Louisville
Sophie Ford, @SophieFord_10
Sophie has a junior at the University of Louisville who is majoring in Communication with a concentration in Strategic Communications. Sophie has been a team leader for the social media class capstone class offered here at the University of Louisville, which has created a social media strategic campaign proposal for Unbridled Eve, one of the main gala events supporting the non-profit organization Blessings in a Backpack during the Kentucky Derby. In addition, Sophie is an extremely hard working student and always puts forth the extra effort in every project she is a part of as well as exploring both professional and networking opportunities in the field. Sophie will be interning with Bandy Carroll Hellige this summer who represents clients such as Four Roses Bourbon and McDonald’s. It has been a pleasure having Sophie in class and I do believe she will make a strong mark in the field of public relations during her time at UofL as well as after graduation.
Katie Wells, @katielynn727
Katie is a junior majoring in Communication at the University of Louisville. Her interests focus on PR and social media, but also is interested in event planning and working with established corporations here in Louisville. She has been part of a capstone group project to create a social media campaign for Unbridled Eve, one of the premier galas for the Kentucky Derby here in Louisville. In addition, her group has been responsible to create strategies and innovative ideas for Blessings in a Backpack, a non-profit organization that is tied with the Unbridled Eve event that feeds school children during the week on the federal funded and reduced meal program. Katie is a dedicated team member and has showcased her hard work ethic and strategic thinking throughout her classes here at the University of Louisville, which will serve her well after graduation and beyond in the public relations field.
Nominated by Karen Russell, University of Georgia
Elizabeth Howard, @eliz_howard
It’s a bit inaccurate to call Elizabeth Howard a future PR rock star because her career is already well underway. She’ll be heading to Washington, D.C. when she graduates in May, one of three people selected for Lockheed Martin’s Communications Leadership Development Program. One look at her track record shows why she stood out from 300 other applicants for the position. While at the University of Georgia, she’s worked as an event planner, photographer and social media fashion intern, and a food and hospitality agency intern. She also worked for the student newspaper, served as treasurer of the world’s largest chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, and spent two years leading a campus nonprofit organization of more than 1,000 students, who raised over $65,000 each year to help more than 500 local children celebrate the holidays. “Being a rock star in public relations doesn’t mean knowing every answer,” Elizabeth said, “but it does mean being willing to jump to the next opportunity, learning everything you possible can and then redefining yourself.”
Abigail Frye, @abigailcfrye
As chairman of the nation’s largest chapter of College Republicans, Abbie Frye oversees more than 500 members, but that’s just the beginning of her work in Georgia politics. On any given day, you can find her communicating not only with CR members, but also staying closely connected to Athens and Atlanta area GOP groups and the Georgia Republican Party. She’s on the committee to plan the Georgia Republican Party State Convention in May, hosting as many as 5,000 delegates, and is slated to speak on millennial engagement in the political process at Georgia’s 10th District convention. In addition to prior service as the College Republicans’ public relations director, she’s interned with several campaigns and agencies and volunteers in the Athens community. “Over the past few years, our government has become more polarized than ever, which, in my opinion, has shifted the perception of PR practices from being a luxury to a necessity,” Abbie said. “Candidates, campaigns, elected officials, lobbyist groups and party groups (just to name a few) all need PR… good PR… PR that is strategic, well thought out and clearly developed.” Is it any wonder that she’s been selected to intern in the office of Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) this summer? Watch out, Washington.
Avia Meadows, @avialeVon
The first time I saw Avia Meadows, she was leading a team of UGA students in a rehearsal of a presentation to bid for the opportunity to host the national conference of the Public Relations Student Society of America’s 2015 conference in Atlanta. Since these are future rock stars, you could probably guess that she now serves as the PRSSA National Conference Coordinator. The National Conference will host about 1,700 students, providing the attendees with more than 30 sessions with public relations professionals representing a variety of public relations skills and experiences in different industries. Although she’s only a junior, she’s already held internships with the Atlanta Falcons, Bloomingdale’s, and Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta, and has been selected to intern at Coca-Cola this summer. She’ll be working under Scott Williamson, vice president of public affairs and communications, and, she says, “I look forward to learning from the best.”
Nominated by Charles Lubbers, University of South Dakota
Delaney Schenk, @delaneyschenk
If you saw Delaney Schenk presenting her ideas, leading a group project, engaging in a class discussion, or perhaps if you read any of the various materials she developed, you’d know there is something special about her. Instead of an undergraduate student, you might see her as a seasoned professional. Delaney is a polished, well-spoken emerging professional who can ignite passion in others. She has a stellar academic record and her passion and drive are like no other. In addition to completing internships while a full-time student and a varsity athlete, Delaney is already working full time as she completes her last two courses online.
Shelby Huber, @ShelbyHuber2
There are few students who have so thoroughly impressed both peers and professors as Shelby Huber has done. As a sophomore Shelby was selected for an internship with the largest agency in the region, while competing with juniors and seniors. She is a leader in the classroom and in extracurricular activities. She inspires team members to do their best work. Shelby’s outstanding academic abilities are evidenced in her participation in the University’s Honors program. Her desire for practical experience has meant she is currently in her second internship and has a third that will start this summer.
Nominated by Kelli Matthews, University of Oregon
Jessica Glackin, @jessicaglackin
Jessica is Allen Hall PR’s firm director. This academic year has been a significant one for the agency as they transition to a new adviser and also focus on building sustainable systems that will ensure the agencies success for another decade. Jessica has an ability to be tenacious, focused and decisive while still being inclusive and building up her teammates so everyone does the best work they can. These traits that suit her well for a career in PR.
Abigaelle Mulligan, @abbsmulligan
Abbie is a natural leader. She’s the current PRSSA president and is also an account supervisor for the student-run PR firm, Allen Hall PR. Two things stand out about Abbie — the first is her eagerness to learn and to maximize every moment of time at the University of Oregon. She takes all the topics classes and workshops that we can offer from crisis management to Google analytics, fundraising to strategic social media. The second is how dependable she is. If she says she will do it, it gets done. She is poised, professional and will be an extraordinary addition to any public relations team.
Hallie White, @halliecwhite
Hallie’s leadership is always calm, collected and thoughtful. She’s the PRSSA vice president and the Allen Hall PR assistant firm director. Both positions require that she bring a patience for and commitment to her peers that’s often unique among student leaders, but Hallie fits the role with ease. She’s had significant internship experience that positions her well to exceed wherever her post-grad life takes her.