PR Excellence Awards 2016
The Public Relations Program recognized eight outstanding Public Relations Majors for their profound achievements at the Fourth Annual Public Relations Excellence Award Ceremony on March 30, 2016 at Alumni Center. The honorary chair was Kelly Harris, URI class of 2013, who is the Director of Scheduling for the Office of The Governor, Gina Raimondo.
Harris Graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Rhode Island in May 2013 as a double major in Public Relations and Political Science. She was also an advising and tutoring intern. In April of 2013, she received the David Warren International Relations Award from the Political Science Department at the University of Rhode Island. In her remarks, Harris stressed the importance of developing one’s personal brand. Harris encouraged the students to take risks—it is only when you take the first step that you can move forward in your personal and professional development. The awards and recipients include:
PR Award for Leadership: Jenna Cote of Cranston – As a resident advisor, Cote aims to create a positive experience for students in residential halls at URI. She considers it her responsibility to guide students as they make their transition to the life at URI. What sets Cote apart is her genuine commitment to civic engagement. One of her most memorable experiences was the Alternative Spring Break Program where she traveled to Charlestown, S.C. as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, a local food bank and an oyster rehabilitation organization. Currently, Cote serves as the vice president of Diversity and Community Advancement of the Student Alumni Association. Earlier this year, she assumed a leadership role in the annual Nearly Naked Mile Road Race, which involved more than 500 participants. In addition, her leadership resulted in SAA participating in Diversity Week, Relay for Life, and spreading cheer at local nursing homes.
PR Award for Most Innovative: Jack Wenzel of Barrington – Much to the surprise of Wenzel, his resume made an impression on Don and Tina McKendall, owners of three individual SERVPRO cleanup and restoration franchises in New England. This led to an internship opportunity where Wenzel was responsible for managing the social media presence for the franchises. In a short time, Wenzel assumed certain marketing responsibilities given his work ethic and common-sense approach to generating a social media presence. Wenzel has been offered a full-time position upon graduation.
PR Award for Community/Campus Impact: Lucio Andreozzi of Providence – From the moment Andreozzi arrived at URI, he recognized the many opportunities available to every student. Andreozzi was involved with the Student Alumni Association, Student Philanthropy Council, Student Rambassador and Campus Tour Guide programs. Throughout these groups, he was able to develop his public speaking skills and time management skills. These organizations helped him develop his creativity and critical thinking skills. Leading the Student Alumni Association as the vice president of the marketing and communication gave him the opportunity to expand the group’s social media and promotional efforts.
PR Award for Outstanding Internship Experience: Alexa Tombs of Whippany, N.J. – Last summer, Tombs was the publicity intern at Warner Brothers in New York City. Tombs helped create events, contacted the media and worked closely with actors. At URI, Tombs directed a fast-moving social media campaign whose goal was to promote the URI men’s hockey team. For one game, fans were asked to donate teddy bears instead of paying for admission. The teddy bears were collected and delivered by the hockey players to Friends Way, a nonprofit organization that helps children who have experienced the loss of a parent or a family member.
PR Award for Outstanding Internship Experience: Sara LaPorte of Smithfield – For the past three years, LaPorte interned with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Given her dedication and her attention to detail, the agency expanded her duties to include leadership, programming/planning, environmental education, executive assistance and legal documentation. LaPorte was honored by her DEM unit as “exceeding” at her primary job responsibilities and was offered the opportunity to manage the four-person internship team. She has managed the Rhode Island Great Outdoor Pursuit Program, which encourages families to get outside and be active. In addition, she and her team have worked on other local tourism efforts, such as the Galilee Seafood Festival and Fishing Tournament.
PR Award for Outstanding Internship Experience: Caitlin Musselman of New Hope, Pa. – For 15 weeks, she was an intern in URI’s Marketing and Communications Department where she worked closely with Assistant Director Dave Lavallee. Her primary responsibilities included writing press releases, media advisors and feature stories about campus activities and events, faculty research and student achievement. One of her most notable accomplishments was her feature story about Dennis Hilliard, director of the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory at URI. Fast forward three years, Musselman is now a paid writing intern, a direct result of the skills she mastered during her internship. Life took Musselman to Washington, DC where she interned with Tricom Associates under the supervision of the president of the company. “This experience was more than I cold have expected and allowed me the freedom to develop and maintain individual accounts as a professional member of the team,” said Musselman. Life in Washington, D.C. agreed with Caitlin – She completed her second Washington internship with the Amalgamated Transit Union. She managed its social media site, created media lists for print, radio and TV, pitched news stories to the local media outlets and wrote for the bimonthly magazine called ‘In Transit.”
PR Award for Emerging Leader: Angela McGrath of Groveland – McGrath interned for Caster Communication where she enhanced her understanding of public relations strategies and gained practical experience. At Caster, she is learning to use marketing such as Constant Contact, Dropbox and Meltwater. She has learned how to use Twitter and Pinterest in a professional setting. “Being able to intern here has really made me enjoy the small office aspect of the PR field because I like being able to work with a small team, but deal with big companies,” said McGrath. McGrath is a sister of Delta Zeta Sorority. She and her sisters raised money for many philanthropic and non-profit organizations, particularly the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which buys hearing aids for people who are deaf or hearing impaired.
PR Award for Outstanding Peer Mentor: Colin Rumbel of Mansfield, Mass. – Was nominated for the Outstanding Peer Mentor Award by one of his colleagues for his contributions to URI in just two years. Rumbel has been a role model and mentor to many students – always providing encouragement about academic or professional development challenges. As a peer mentor for HDF 190, Rumbel provided invaluable support to students enrolled in the leadership studies program. Rumbel was a peer leader for the Leadership Institute helping incoming students create a network so they could master the many nuances associated with living on the University campus. Rumbel has served on the executive board of his fraternity, participated in numerous community service and philanthropic events, worked as a tour guide and functioned as a consultant for the Student Organization Leadership Consultants.