Journalism senior Danielle Chavez earned the inaugural Aspire Award, which as presented by public relations expert Dr. Glen Broom, in the First Amendment Forum Wednesday.
Chavez, a Barrett, The Honors College student pursuing both a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s degree in mass communication, works daily in the Walter Cronkite School’s public relations lab as part of her graduate capstone.
“I was very surprised but very honored that these people in the field thought to give the award to myself,” Chavez said.
Fran Matera, founding director of the Cronkite School’s public relations lab, said the lab is a one-of-a-kind experience for advanced public relations students. It allows them to work hand-on in real-world experiences and gives them the opportunity to devise campaigns for clients.
Matera said she admired Chavez’s accomplishments, such as successfully managing a $20,000 budget. Her responsible actions contributed to making her the ideal recipient of the award, Matera said.
“She’s very well positioned to be that leading edge into the future,” Matera said.
Matera acknowledged Scott Pansky, co-founder and senior partner of Allison+Partners public relations firm, for the success of the evening’s lecture and award. Although he was not in attendance Wednesday night, Pansky funded the award.
Matera spoke about Pansky’s experience with students in the public relations lab. She said Pansky was amazed by the intensity of students’ work and wanted to support the school’s efforts. He asked to see students’ resumes and background information to secure a candidate for the award.
Panksy’s goal was to create a mentorship series to stress the importance a mentor can have on an individual’s life. He wanted the recipient of the award to be able to speak one-on-one with a person who they aspired to be.
Before being presented with her award, Chavez was given the opportunity to speak with Broom.
Broom, who was chosen by the school to give the lecture, has served as chair of the department of journalism and head of the public relations department at San Diego State University. Broom is the author of “Cutlip and Center’s Effective Public Relations” and the co-author of “Using Research in Public Relations,” textbooks that are used frequently in introduction to public relations classes.
“A few weeks ago when they had announced Dr. Broom was going to be the speaker, I went ‘The Dr. Broom? The one on my textbook?’” Chavez said. “I got really excited.”
Broom said the word mentor means more than just a title to him.
“I don’t think you can force those types of relationships through a title, I think they are very serious and kind of committed to each other relationships,” Broom said.
Broom said he believes an individual will not have just one defining moment in their life, but many.
“You’re going to have many opportunities to define our field and who you are and how you’re viewed,” Broom said. “Pay attention and take care during those defining moments to seek people whose character you admire.”
Broom presented Chavez with the award after his lecture, achieving what Matera said was an evening to celebrate mentorship.
After graduation, Chavez said she hoped to work in higher education where she can benefit a university with her skills. She is also considering political public relations.
“I’m kind of in the middle and trying that whole job searching thing, but like Dr. Broom said, I’ll have my defining moment that will kind of dictate my path either way,” Chavez said.
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