Professor Winship’s CA students tackle service learning

Kathryn Cambrea, Editor in chief

“How does a class project help you get an internship and then help you parlay that experience into your dream job?” Communications Arts Professor Elaine Winship asked. Well, an upcoming event holds the answer to that question.

One of the facets of St. Thomas Aquinas College’s mission statement is service. There are multiple opportunities for students to implement this value into their lives. Winship embodies this pillar and this semester, her PR Event Planning and Crisis Communication class is putting it into practice. 

(Photo courtesy Professor Elaine Winship): Some students from Professor Winship’s PR Event Planning and Crisis Communication class gather for a group photo.

Her class is organizing an event which they have called, “Service Learning: Opportunities Abound” to be held on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. in the Romano Student-Alumni Center on STAC’s campus. The event will feature speakers who have participated in any of Winship’s various service learning projects. They will describe their work with helping to promote organizations under Winship’s instruction and what jobs and internships have resulted from such experience. The speakers include alumni Gianna Pisano and Erin Durkin as well as current students Mark Keegan and Carly Bonondona. 

Just last semester, students in Winship’s Social Media Marketing and Content Development for Public Relations classes assisted the nonprofit organization, Baking Memories 4 Kids. Bonondona and Keegan were among the students who participated in this endeavor, and Keegan currently interns with the organization. 

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(Photo courtesy Kathryn Cambrea): Kat Lopez (left) and Isabella Szklany (right) compile and organize information for the upcoming event as well as contact the speakers and potential STAC students alike. “Right now, we’re doing bios together and [giving] the speakers a list of what they should be talking about at the event and writing letters for accepted students…” Szklany said.
Each year, Winship’s students promote a new organization. In addition to Baking Memories 4 Kids, some of the organizations include United Way of Rockland, People to People, and Penguin Plunge of Nyack. She recalls that Pisano and Durkin were involved in the work done for United Way of Rockland and People to People. As a result of such work, Durkin and Pisano have gained internships and jobs. Durkin interned with Director of Campus Communications Annie Lombardi and proceeded to work in the Disney College Program after graduation. Pisano had several internships including with ABC Eyewitness News 7 On Your Side and CBS This Morning and currently works with News 12 New Jersey. 

It is an annual tradition at STAC to have current Communication Arts students as well as alumni speak. Just last year, the event was called, “Internships: The Ultimate #CareerHack,” which educated the audience on the opportunities Winship’s students have gained in the field of communications. 

(Photo courtesy Kathryn Cambrea): Sara Smalls (left) and Maddie Buechli (right) work together in creating designs and determining how to publicize the event to other Communications Arts classes. “I think it will be good for communications majors to see what other people have done,” Buechli said.

Winship detailed that the event is open to the advisory board and faculty members as well as all past, current and prospective students, regardless of whether they are interested in communications or not. 

“This event…is not just for CA students,” Winship said. “It is presented by Communication Arts, but all are welcome because service learning experiences can benefit everyone and provide important skill sets for the career preparation toolbox, so to speak.”

This is the main flyer for the event designed by some students in Professor Winship’s PR Event Planning and Crisis Communication class.

Winship hopes that this event will demonstrate how the skills gathered by students who have participated in service learning help them win interviews, internships and jobs. She also sees the event as a way to educate students about the importance of service learning projects and to introduce various Communications Arts classes that feature this type of learning.

Winship shared what she finds to be beneficial about this event.

“The speakers will discuss how doing service for others helps students grow, in ways that other classroom experiences can’t provide,” Winship said. “Participants in service learning projects develop an awareness of others in need, right in their own community, and this is a lesson in what it means to be a compassionate human being.”

Winship’s PR Event Planning and Crisis Communication class is preparing for this event. There are 12 students in total and the students have conceptualized, themed, designed, and promoted the event. They will also host the event on Feb. 27. 

(Photo courtesy Kathryn Cambrea): Derek Kelly and Doris Osei collaborate on designing to promote the upcoming event on Feb. 27. “I’m really excited for this event [and] I’m just looking forward to great guest speakers,” Osei said.
Patrick Owens is looking forward to hosting the event alongside James Hanigan as well as the event itself.

“It’s a great opportunity to not only learn and better your career, but help give back to others at the same time,” Owens said. 

Although the event begins at 6 p.m., the networking portion will follow at 7 p.m. During this hour, audience members can stay and ask the speakers as well as additional students who have done service learning work in Winship’s classes questions. There will be free food and refreshments at this time.