In Their Own Words: Gen Z PR Students Share Inspirational Stories
Updated: Oct 29
In 2020, so far, great action towards social justice has begun with the Black Lives Matter movement and the tremendous work and advocacy that has subsequently been championed in communities. However, horrible instances have occurred as well, most notably, the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the good, bad, and ugly, the communications field has stayed true to their responsibility of informing the public about the events taking place around the globe. The field's job is essential, and the recipients of the New York Women in Communications scholarship are aware of the importance and responsibility attached to pursuing a career in the communications industry.
Every year, New York Women in Communications awards scholarships to students pursuing higher education studies in communications. The scholarships range from $2,500 to $7,500 and the organization has invested $1.7 million in the education of 340+ women from the Tri-State area and beyond. This year, the scholarship recipients are like no others due to the events that transpired in 2020. The communications field this year has been flooded with topics and information that are practically begging to be discussed and presented to the public.
With that said, I had an opportunity to ask questions of the scholarship winners, because I wanted to know why they chose to enter into the communications field and if their ambitions have been affected by events that transpired in 2020. The passion and talent that these women presented were indeed one of the most inspiring things I had seen in awhile, especially considering all the unfortunate events that have occurred this year.
We all know firsthand that current events have shaken the world tremendously, and I was interested in learning if their aspirations shifted with it. I asked the winners how the events in 2020 had contributed to why they wished to enter the communications field. Once again, I was met with inspiration.
With a strong connection and deep appreciation to the industry, these women wonderfully articulated their passion for PR and how they are combining it with the arts and other interests. For example, Daejah Woolery from Fordham University talked about her love for communications and combining it with art in the most inspiring way: "I see how live programming can assuage fears and unite a socially distant world, how narrative work can provide an escape when life seems near-dystopian, and how art delivered into our homes via TV can shake people out of complacency and into action. I want to enter into communications because I feel that in this day and age we can be so much more connected to each other via technology but we can also find ourselves divided by it. It's of incredible importance that each generation of the communications field asks themselves the question 'how can I do better' so we can use our skills for good to connect people across various barriers and with various intersectionalities in mind. Finding ways to effectively reach one another while also producing amazing art that changes hearts is my whole desire."
The Communications field can also introduce people to other interests they had not been exposed to previously. Yamila Frej at the University of Pennsylvania discussed how her passion for communications began for her as a child when she started to write and was published for her fictional short stories. She continues to touch upon how this passion evolved when she explained, "When I reached high school, I realized that enjoyable stories didn't have to be fictional, but that writing can be used to bring awareness to pertinent issues. I soon learned that words can be powerfully effective, so I decided to combine my passions and delve into environmental journalism, especially in the face of an increasingly urgent plea from
The communications field can also intertwine with advocacy and cultural anthropology, which Ellis Stewart from Pennsylvania State University spoke about how her love for communication intertwines with advocating for people and communities in a meaningful way: "I love getting to know and understand people. A job in the communications field for me was a way to eventually understand a group of people and help them effectively communicate their message. When I decided to pursue a career in communication, I wanted to head towards the non-profit sector. I wanted to be an advocate for them to again help them communicate their goals and mission to everyone around them."
These women understand that they have taken it upon themselves to inform the public by entering into communications. In trying times like today, that is no easy feat. Brooke Salamone of Pace University expressed how her appreciation for the field was heightened over the past ten months when she said, "As a Gen Z individual who has a passion for media and communications, there is arguably no better time to be a part of this industry. As communicators, it is our job to propel these important conversations. It is our job to get down to the facts and deliver them to audiences across the globe. From research, to content creation, to social media, to marketing, and beyond we must continue to push ourselves in the communications industry to serve our community. These events that have taken place are a reminder of the importance of our jobs in communications. For me personally, they remind me of why I chose this career path. To help to start important conversations in society. To be a part in delivering the most up-to-date and critical breaking news to the masses. Communications and media unite us all."
The use of the word unites particularly stood out to me, probably because I have not heard many people use it when talking about the current crisis. Knowing that Generation Z is stepping up to the plate in the communications field with this kind of attitude fills me, and I am sure all of us, with excitement.
In the communications field, people are can relay all of the information about current events and present them in a way that inspires change, growth, and unity. Hailey Aldrich from Ithaca College understands this and stresses the importance of communicating constructively. She emphasizes how her aspirations have grown in 2020 by saying, "How we interoperate and learn about serious historical events determines how we react, respond to, and overcome them. Reflecting back on the events of the last nine months, I have been reminded how important it is to harness the power of communication and learn to confront our personal biases in order to provide information and understanding, and help start conversations that pave the way forward for everyone." Hailey stresses the importance of confronting pressing social issues we face today; to move forward with more compassion and understanding to better our future.
The communications field has the monstrous task of relaying crucial information to the public daily, especially in 2020. It is a challenge that requires passion, intelligence, strength, and creativity. These are attributes that the scholarship winners express and intend to accomplish great things with in the future. After being privy to the passion and stories that these women have, I do not doubt that they will bring us to higher levels than ever imagined.
Jordan Massey is interning for JDMA Inc. Ms. Massey is a Freshman at Marist College, where she majors in Political Science with the intention of attending law school once she finishes her undergraduate studies. Ms. Massey graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA and was a member of multiple honors societies.