Six students in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) participated in a mock press conference with public safety officers from across the state of Alabama last month.
Hosted by the Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa, the event provides an opportunity for students to gain valuable live-interview experience while public information officers from the Alabama Public Safety Leadership Academy (APSLA) simultaneously receive a test in having to answer their questions.
“This is the seventh year I’ve taken a group of students who volunteer their time to help train public information officers about the role of the media,” said Dr. Chandra Clark, assistant professor of journalism and creative media. “It also helps the students learn about the role public servants have in providing information to the public following a disaster or a crime. Since I’m observing them doing four mock news conferences with real-life scenarios, I am able to witness them in action before they go do this in the real world.”
The students who participated in this event are Carleigh Clark, Maxwell Donaldson, Jayda Russell, Ryan Ivey, Benjo Verge and Winter Steele.
“The reason we chose to attend this program and be a part of The University of Alabama was to become people who can effectively serve our community,” Ivey said. “These men and women in law enforcement and fire and rescue are our partners in that endeavor. Having the opportunity to help them and in turn help our community is such an important experience and rare opportunity that I feel truly blessed to be a part of, especially within my local community.”
Carleigh Clark, a senior public relations major, was excited to bring a non-journalism perspective to the exercise.
“As a student in PR, I was able to give advice to local officials about how to give strategic information to the media and the public,” Clark said. “The experience was extremely valuable for myself and members of the APSLA, and I am thankful for the educational opportunity.”
The Alabama Public Safety Leadership Academy exists to broaden and enhance the management and leadership skills of select members of Alabama’s public safety agencies through a directed program exposing members to key strategic elements relevant to public safety organizational success.