Spotlight: A World of Opportunities
Public relations major Caroline Beard says that The University of Alabama has provided her a "world of opportunities." And she has taken that adage to heart, from exploring the world to saving it.
Caroline received a unique scholarship/internship combination last summer thanks to generous contributions of The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, a grant-giving organization with the goal of conserving natural resources in North America.
Through the Munson program, she worked with the Cahaba River Society in Birmingham. Caroline was able to put topics she learned in class into practice. She was responsible for social media, media relations and direct marketing to help restore and protect the Cahaba River watershed and its rich diversity of life.
The Munson Foundation Scholarship/Internship Program has been a win-win opportunity for UA public relations students and natural resource organizations in Alabama. Students are given the opportunity to gain valuable professional experience while working for organizations that have noticeable positive impacts on their surroundings. Equally important, these organizations that may not have the time or resources for public relations efforts benefit from the fresh ideas of well-educated young professionals.
Caroline will spend the spring semester in Spain, exploring the roots of her second major, Spanish. "College is all about seeking opportunities and milking your four years for all they're worth," she says. "I've loved everything I've been lucky enough to do so far, and I can't wait to see what my final semester holds."
Name: Caroline Beard
Hometown: Franklin, Tenn.
Major: Public relations and Spanish
Anticipated Graduation Date: August 2011
Why I chose my major:
When I arrived at UA, I knew I belonged in C & IS, but I wasn't yet certain about a major. I sat down with Jim Oakley and discussed my strengths and the things I like to do. Mr. Oakley said my creativity and love of writing made me a perfect fit for PR, and he encouraged me to sign up for an introductory course. I heeded his advice and I haven't looked back; I love this field.
I chose to make Spanish a second major because I love the language and I've seen how useful it can be; I wanted to provide myself with tools for a successful future and to learn as much as I could in my four years at the University.
Why I chose UA:
I knew I wanted to study communication, and where better than at a university that clearly understood how to communicate? My junior and senior years, UA remained in constant contact with me; I received Christmas cards, a hand-written letter and personal phone calls, all of which made me feel like UA considered me as a person, not a number. I wanted to come to the school that obviously practiced what it was teaching.
Aside from that, the University had the perfect combination of what I was looking for in a college: beautiful campus, state-of-the-art facilities, excellent communication college and world-class faculty. SEC football and a less-than-four-hour drive home were also contributing factors.
Ideally, I would love to find a job at a mid-size public relations agency where I can work with a broad range of clients and use my Spanish skills.
Best thing about college so far:
To me, the best part of college is that it is a world of opportunities. I’ve had the chance to befriend students and professors from all over the country - and the world - and to study in the top-ranked undergraduate PR program in the nation. I've been able to learn a variety of new and interesting things in the classroom - from Eastern philosophy and photography to indoor rock climbing and Spanish cinema. I've taken advantage of opportunities to get involved on campus, and next semester I'm fortunate to have the chance to study abroad and experience a foreign culture. College is all about seeking opportunities and milking your four years for all they're worth; I've loved everything I've been lucky enough to do so far, and I can't wait to see what my final semester holds.
What service projects/organizations have you done at UA:
Capstone Men & Women, Student Executive Council, Capstone Agency, Public Relations Student Society of America, Freshman Forum Creative Campus Co-Chair, Creative Campus Marketing Committee, Assistant to SGA Executive Secretary, Title III ESL Tutor with Tuscaloosa County School System, Platform Online Magazine, Freelance writer for Commerce Executive Magazine, Alpha Chi Omega, Phi Eta Sigma Sophomore Honorary, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society in Journalism & Mass Communication, Mortar Board, Blue Key, The XXXI, Anderson Society, Omicron Delta Kapp.
How does/will that help your education:
My involvements outside of class enrich my educational experience at UA, allowing me to put into practice many of the things I've learned in class and to develop skills necessary for a professional life beyond college. With Capstone Men & Women, I've worked as a PR representative for the University for the past three years, polishing my public speaking skills and learning how to think on my feet. Capstone Agency provided the opportunity for me to create PR work for actual clients, and with Platform Magazine and the Commerce Executive, I wrote for print and online publications and experienced the pressure of working under deadlines.
How has the Munson Foundation internship helped you in your college career:
The Munson Foundation internship proved to me that I am capable of executing what I've been learning and practicing these last three years. Working at Cahaba River Society, a small non-profit organization in Birmingham, I was responsible for every aspect of public relations. Using social media, media relations, event planning, direct mailings and surveys, I wore a lot of different hats and I was able to try a little bit of everything.
How do you think it will help you in your professional career:
After last summer's internship, I'm confident that I am prepared to enter the work world, and my résumé reflects it.