URI student graduates with two degrees, plus experiences in acting, modeling, painting

Posted on
KINGSTON, R.I. – Jan. 24, 2013 – Many students have trouble finding just one field that they want to study while in college. That’s not the case for Julie Dawson, who has a variety of interests in several disciplines.

Dawson graduated in December with a double major in journalism and public relations. She knew that she wanted to study journalism since high school, when she shadowed Kelly McGee at WJAR NBC 10 as part of a senior project at North Providence High School. After taking a public relations course during her junior year, she decided to add that field as a second major. During this past fall semester, she fulfilled her last requirements for the public relations major, while taking electives, such as acting, that interested her.

Dawson began acting in high school and has been an extra in several major movies and television shows, including “Dan in Real Life,” “27 Dresses,” “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” “The Clique,” and “Body of Proof.”

“The best part of acting is being able to become somebody else to tell a story and entertain people, which is what I love to do,” said Dawson, a Cumberland, R.I. resident.

While taking an acting workshop in Manhattan with “Friday the 13th’s” Ron Millkie last summer, Dawson fell in love with city life. She plans to move to New York within the next year to gain more experience in acting and modeling.

Dawson started modeling during her freshman year when her grandmother told her about an agency casting call at the Emerald Square Mall in North Attleboro, Mass. Dawson attended the event, which was a prom expo, and was recruited by Donahue Models and Talent, a major agency in Rhode Island.

Dawson has been in more than 20 fashion shows in the last four years, including StyleWeek Providence, StyleWeek Northeast, several shows put on by URI’s Fashion Merchandising Society, and many charity shows.

“Modeling has given me the chance to practice my networking skills,” said Dawson, who met Paula Abdul at a StyleWeek show.

Many of Dawson’s modeling jobs are not paid, but she accepts them to gain experience.

“It’s a big time commitment, so you really need to love it,” said Dawson of her sometimes daylong modeling jobs. “I think Rhode Island is a good place to start modeling and acting. There are a lot of opportunities here; you just need to know where to look. It’s been a good experience for me to build my résumé before going to New York.”

Besides acting and modeling, Dawson has completed two public relations internships in the last year since declaring her second major. During winter break last year, she interned at (add)ventures, a marketing and communications agency in Providence, R.I., where she wrote press releases and end-of-year reports.

Last summer, she completed an internship for credit in URI’s Office of Experiential Learning and Community and Engagement, writing feature stories about students who have had impressive hands-on experiences in their fields. She has written about students who have interned at “Live! With Kelly” and made contributions to the Tribeca Film Festival.

Dawson enjoyed her writing internship so much that she chose to continue it through her last semester. Her articles often appeared in “The Good 5 Cent Cigar.”

“My goal is to get the office and students recognized for all the great things they are doing,” said Dawson. “This internship is perfect for me because it combines my journalism and public relations interests. I have written many pieces that will be great additions to my portfolio.”

When she isn’t busy studying, interning, modeling or acting, Dawson enjoys painting to relax. Mostly self-taught, she has only taken one formal art class. Although she enjoys painting, Dawson says she would not want to pursue it as anything more than a hobby.

“Once you start getting paid for something you love, I think it can take away from the fun and become a chore,” she said. She has kept a couple of her paintings for herself, but gives most of them away as presents for family members and friends.

To see some of Dawson’s art samples and more information about her experiences, visit her online portfolio at julie-dawson.wix.com/creativeportfolio.

This press release was written by Danielle Sanda, an intern in URI’s Department of Marketing and Communications and a public relations major.