Ten students are set to be UMass Journalism's inaugural class of PR concentration graduates

By Corinne Arel '24

The inaugural class of Public Relations Concentration students will graduate from the UMass Amherst Journalism Department on May 13, 2022.

From left to right, Samantha Simons, Autumn Delorey, Julia Clancy, Estela Suarez Hernadez, Liam Shea, Katrina Rojas, Anne Lizette Sta. Maria, Jacquelyn Gorman, Sophia Torres and Lauren Lander (not pictured) are the first ten journalism majors to graduate with a PR Concentration. All 10 members of the inaugural class aspire to work in the field of public relations.

"Being among the first graduates of the PR concentration is such a great way to culminate my college career," Anne Lizette Sta. Maria, class of '22, said. After graduation she plans to intern at the Yale University Development Office working on initiatives dedicated to students' philanthropy education and donor impact.

"I’m going abroad to intern in Barcelona through a UMass sponsored program," Autumn Delorey, class of ‘22, said.

"We’re thrilled to congratulate the first official graduates of the Journalism Department’s PR concentration." Brian McDermott, Department Chair and Senior Lecturer said. "These students are well-prepared to begin their careers, and we’re looking forward to seeing where their talents take them in the years to come."

Jennie Donohue, a Senior Lecturer and the Director of the Public Relations Concentration said, "To see our students having completed the coursework and then go on to successful careers is something that I’m looking forward to."

Professor Donohue joined the UMass faculty in 2018 and was instrumental in developing a new public relations curriculum designed for journalism majors interested in pursuing a career in public relations. In 2020, the Public Relations Concentration officially launched with a six-course sequence (19 credits plus an internship) that balances theory and practice through a rigorous mix of journalism, multimedia and public relations coursework. Donohue and Assistant Professor Ah Ram Lee teach the majority of the concentration’s classes, with the goal of developing students’ writing, research, visual and multimedia skills to become better communicators and strategic thinkers.

"I loved the Intro to PR class. I loved the content and learning about how to write news releases," Katrina Rojas, class of '22, said. "I honestly think that these classes really shape us for greatness." She hopes to start her own business after graduation. "Everything we're doing in class aligns with the things I need to do for my brand, and it's pretty exciting."

Samantha Simons, class of ‘22, hopes to take on a leadership role with a non-profit in-house public relations team. "Having the opportunity to spread messaging and make a difference is really exciting to me," Simons said.

UMass Journalism alum Julie Harrington, class of 2020, who now works at Ten Bridge Communications, credits her journalism courses and time with student media to achieving her career goals. "I’m grateful for the hands-on experiences I gained from my classes and my involvement in the PR Club that prepared me so well for my current role as an account manager at a public relations agency. The connections I made with my peers and with the amazing department faculty are invaluable to me, and it has been wonderful to see the great things my classmates have gone on to do," Harrington said.

Seniors leave a few words of advice for journalism students interested in the PR concentration.

"Professionals in the PR field and fellow students all have their own unique prospectives to share," Liam Shea, class of '22, said. "Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help." 

Estela Suarez Hernadez, class of ‘22, advises journalism students to establish relationships with professors, peers and mentors. "They can end up being people that will open new and unpredictable opportunities for you."

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