URI students recognized with Public Relations Excellence Awards

Eleven students honored for leadership, community impact, innovation

Media Contact: Neil Nachbar, 401-874-9519 |
Group photo
From left: Carley Gomes, Lexie Gardiner, Patrick Keating, Joshua Reyes, Christopher Alves, Olivia Ross, Nina Toscano, Julija Paulius, Alex Jarmatz, Dean of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences Jeannette Riley, Hayley Keen, Communications Studies Chair Norbert Mundorf and Juliana Dellamarggio. (URI Photo/Michael Salerno)

KINGSTON R.I. – April 11, 2019 – The University of Rhode Island’s Harrington School of Communication and Media honored 11 students at its sixth annual Public Relations Excellence Award Ceremony on March 29.

Students were honored for their leadership, impact on the campus community and innovative thinking. Four students received awards for outstanding internships and one student was given special recognition for service and leadership in the URI Public Relations Student Society of America.

“The PR Excellence Awards are truly a highlight of our academic year, as we recognize the profound impact our students make at URI and in our local community,” said Regina Bell, senior lecturer of public relations.

The honorary chairperson and guest speaker for the ceremony was URI Assistant Director of Communications and Marketing Dave Lavallee, a former journalist and ’79 URI journalism graduate, who is in his 25th year working in the communications department.

“I was honored to been chosen as honorary chair and guest speaker and was very impressed with this year’s recipients,” Lavallee said. “They have not only worked hard academically and professionally; they have also been dedicated to making URI a better place.”

All of the award winners are seniors, except for dual award winner Christopher Alves, who is a junior. This year’s winners were:


Hayley Keen, Huntington, N.Y.

Keen’s remarkable time-management and multi-tasking skills have enabled her to perform two internships at the same time. As a senior intern for Caster Communications, Keen performs outcome-based research, drafts and schedules client social media posts, builds press lists for trade shows and events, and pitches stories to journalists. At the Harrington Media Agency, an internship program within the Harrington School, Keen manages social media platforms, data analytics, writes articles and assists in video production.

Julija Paulius, Allendale, N.J.

As the brand ambassador for the Harrington School, Paulius has played an important role in recruiting prospective students to the program. She has also interned for URI’s College of Arts and Sciences for the last 14 months, rebranding its social media and writing content about professors, students and staff. Paulius is the senior editor of Her Campus at University of Rhode Island, an online magazine dedicated to, written by and focused on empowering college women.

Campus Impact:

Nina Toscano, Manasquan, N.J.

As the vice president of programming for the Panhellenic Council, Toscano meets regularly with members of the URI Greek Life community and campus leaders at URI. She has effectively used her public relations skills in community outreach as well as in organizing and executing events. Toscano embraced a leadership role in planning two major events that impact the URI campus: Philanthropy Week and Greek Week.

Joshua Reyes, Central Falls, R.I.

Inspired by Academy Award-winning actor Viola Davis, who hails from his home city of Central Falls, Reyes was determined to make the most out of his URI experience starting from the moment he set foot on campus. As a tour guide, Reyes’ responsibility was to make students and families feel welcome. As an intern for URI’s Office of Communications and Marketing, he identified, interviewed and wrote articles on exceptional students and faculty for the URI website. Reyes also served as a student orientation leader for incoming freshmen, introducing them to URI and its campus.


Lexie Gardiner, North Kingstown, R.I.

Patrick Keating, North Kingstown, R.I.

Christopher Alves, Norton, Mass.

Gardiner, Keating and Alves are participating in an internship with the Rhode Island Business Group on Health to implement and grow its “ Choosing Wisely RI” campaign, which aims to reduce the high cost and amount of waste associated with the health care industry. Working as a team, the three students are identifying strategies to bridge the gap in the patient-provider relationship and tactics that will empower patients to have more productive conversations about their treatment.

Alves, a junior, was also honored by the URI chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Alves, the president of URI’s PRSSA chapter, received special recognition for service and leadership.

Outstanding Internship:

Juliana Dellamarggio, Trumbull, Conn.

Dellamarggio managed three internships concurrently. As a corporate sponsorship and community relations intern with the Newport Harbor Corporation, she contributed to the success of the Newport International Boat Show. For her internship with the Harrington School of Communication and Media, Dellamarggio wrote articles for the school’s newsletter and managed its Facebook page. Dellamarggio’s third internship promoting URI Summer Sessions entailed her obtaining student testimonials and creating flyers to be distributed via social media to help drive registration.

Olivia Ross, Johnston, R.I.

Ross is in her third year as an intern in URI’s Office of Communications and Marketing. Since her sophomore year, Ross has researched, written and edited a wide range of stories for the department and has served as an ambassador for new interns, showing them the ropes and helping them adapt to the position. In addition, Ross is also interning at Rhode Island Monthly magazine where she assists on social media and in the planning and execution of events.

Carley Gomes, Cumberland, R.I.

As an intern with the City of Providence, Gomes immersed herself in several different projects. Using strategic social media platforms, Gomes helped attract thousands of people to PVDFest, the city’s annual international art festival. Gomes established a Facebook presence for the Providence Public Parks department, helped redesign and create content for the city’s electronic newsletter, and assisted in the planning of press conferences and implementing social media promotions to communicate new city initiatives.

Alex Jarmatz, White Plains, N.Y.

Among other activities, Jarmatz participated in two internships during her academic career where she had an impactful role. Jarmatz’s first internship was for the New York City Ballet’s membership department, where she collected and organized research profiles of major donors. Her second internship was for URI’s College of Arts and Sciences, developing intriguing content to increase the college’s presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.