URI graduate ready to take her place in heady world of New York public relations

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Smithfield resident made most of University opportunities

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 14, 2010 – When University of Rhode Island student Elise Fitzgerald was a freshman, she went to a club meeting every night.

“I just wanted to see what I liked,” said the Smithfield senior who decided she liked a wide variety of activities.

Initially, URI wasn’t her first choice. Northeastern University and Emerson College were tops on her list, but a wide-variety of choices for a major and other considerations kept URI in the running.

As a senior in high school, she drove to campus during April vacation to pay her deposit. “It was bright and sunny with students throwing Frisbees on the Quad and hanging out. It just got me excited to be coming here. After my first semester, I just couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”

Now Fitzgerald, who has been a campus tour guide, intern in the University’s Department of Communications and Marketing, homecoming queen, and a mentor for a required 10-week course that helps freshmen succeed at URI, is poised to jump into the next stage her life.

The leadership studies minor will begin a paid internship June 7 with Burston and Marsteller in New York, a leading public relations and communications firm with operations in 92 countries across six continents.

Her numerous experiences at URI prepared her well. Fitzgerald completed two successful public relations internships with FM Global, a global leader in commercial and industrial insurance, a field marketing internship with Contiki Vacations, which sent her on an all-expense paid trip to Europe, and a sales internship with Collette Vacation.

At Burston and Marsteller, she will work in the Knowledge and Insights Department, which Fitzgerald said works closely with chief executives and internal communications as well as with external clients.

“The leadership experience I gained at URI helped me get this internship,” Fitzgerald said. “The program taught me to know my strengths, my weaknesses and where I can grow. The leadership program allowed me to work with people with different opinions who came from diverse cultures and backgrounds. I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without meeting the people in the leadership programs.”

Fitzgerald was a peer mentor for a 3-credit first-year leadership course called FLITE, where she applied theory on social change and servant leadership.

She participated in the First Year Student Leadership Institute as a freshman and since has served as a ropes course facilitator, small group leader and co-coordinator.

Fitzgerald also helped build WOWW, We’re Offering Women Wisdom, a mentoring program for freshmen women, and served as recruitment chair and vice president.

“I met some of my best friends in the leadership programs and in WOWW,” Fitzgerald said.

She also performed in the Vagina Monologues, and participated in Leadership Rhode Island, Relay for Life, Annual WOWW Domestic Violence Fundraiser, Alzheimer’s Memory Walk and many others.

Even with multiple activities, Fitzgerald’s academic performance remained excellent. She’s graduating with a 3.67 grade point average out of a 4.0. She switched from majoring in journalism to public relations when she realized she didn’t want to become a reporter.

“The PR advisor, Regina Bell, is really great because she cares so much about the students,” Fitzgerald said. “Every time I meet with her, she gets so excited about my successes.”

Pictured above

Elise Fitzgerald

URI Department of Communications & Marketing photo by Michael Salerno Photography.