URI public relations students honored for outstanding achievement

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KINGSTON, R.I. — April 27, 2016 – The University of Rhode Island’s Public Relations Department, a part of the Harrington School of Communication and Media, presented awards to eight students during recent ceremonies on the Kingston campus. Kelly Harris, URI class of 2013, who now works in Gov. Gina Raimondo’s office as the event manager, was the event’s honorary chair and keynote speaker. Harris offered the award recipients and guests tips on how to prepare for their careers.

Award recipients are as follows:

• 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.

Cote has been committed to civic engagement at URI. 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. During that trip, she also worked at a food bank and environmental organization.

Cote also serves as the vice president of Diversity and Community Advancement of the Student Alumni Association. Earlier this year, she helped lead the annual Nearly Naked Mile Road Race, which involved more than 500 participants who donated clothing to charity.

• 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 several marketing responsibilities, including social media promotions. 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 the University had to offer.

Andreozzi has been involved with the Student Alumni Association, Student Philanthropy Council, Student Rambassador and Campus Tour Guide programs. Through these groups, he developed his public speaking skills and time management skills. They also 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 Bros. in New York City. Tombs helped organize events, and in that role also worked with media and actors.

At URI, Tombs directed 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. Her strong performance led the agency to expand 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 about three years, Musselman has been an intern in URI’s Marketing and Communications Department. Her primary responsibilities include writing press releases, media advisors and feature stories about campus activities and events, faculty research and student achievement. Among her most notable accomplishments was a feature story about Dennis Hilliard, director of the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory at URI and a story about campus sexual violence prevention that led to a piece on a local television news and analysis show.

Musselman’s strong performance led the department to offer her a paid writing intern position.

Musselman also landed an internship in Washington, D.C. 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, Mass. – McGrath interned for Caster Communication where she enhanced her understanding of public relations strategies and gained practical experience. She learned to use marketing tools such as Constant Contact, Dropbox and Meltwater. She has learned how to use Twitter and Pinterest in a professional setting.

McGrath is a sister of Delta Zeta Sorority, which 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 this 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, Rumbel provided invaluable support to students enrolled in the leadership studies program. He was also a peer leader for the Leadership Institute, helping incoming students create a network so they could become comfortable in the University environment.

Rumbel has served on the executive board of his fraternity, participated in numerous community service and philanthropic events, worked as a tour guide and served as a consultant for the Student Organization Leadership Consultants.

Dom LaFerrera, an intern in the department of marketing and communications, and a communication studies major, wrote this release.

URI public relations award winners: Students in URI’s Public Relation program pose for a photo after being honored for their achievement.

From left, Regina Bell, lecturer in the PR department poses with Jack Wenzel of Barrington, recipient of the PR award for Most Innovative.

Lucio Andreozzi of Providence, with his parents Michael and Donna Andreozzi, after receiving the PR Award for Community/Campus Impact.

Alexa Tombs, of Whippany, N.J. is all smiles after being presented the PR Campus Impact Award.

From left, Hollie Smith, assistant professor in URI’s Harrington School of Communication & Media, poses with Sara LaPorte, of Smithfield, and recipient of the PR Outstanding Leadership Award.

Caitlin Musselman of New Hope Pa, winner of the PR Outstanding Internship Award, pauses for a photo with her mentor and supervisor Dave Lavallee, assistant director of Marketing and Communications at URI.

Angela McGrath of Groveland, Mass., poses after being presented the PR Emerging Leader Award.

Colin Rumbel, of Mansfield, Mass. is presented the PR Peer Mentor Award.

URI Photos by Michael Salerno photography