Aspiring PR mavens in the making

ASU Public Relations Lab challenges students to think critically and beyond graduation

April 3, 2017

There are common phrases students hear throughout public relations careers. Aside from stressing the importance of accuracy and integrity, students are encouraged to secure internships, network with practitioners and build their portfolio. Each element works together to jumpstart their career even before they walk across the commencement stage.

The Public Relations Lab at the Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication provides students the environment to refine their skills and the opportunity to connect with and learn from other public relations professionals. woman working on laptop in classroom 2016 PR News Student of the Year Caitlin Bohrer works in the PR Lab. Download Full Image

The Lab’s “teaching hospital” approach is intended to enhance a student’s marketable skills before graduation. Students work out of a state-of-the-art newsroom which operates like a PR agency and are led by Fran Matera, a veteran journalist and public relations educator and professional.

“The Cronkite PR Lab is designed as an intensive learning environment and operates as an agency with student teams who work on behalf of their clients,” Matera said.

Clients range from Fortune 500 companies to startups — reflecting organizations with international to local reach — including Intel, Honeywell, and NASA.

The semester-long course includes producing communication campaigns and strategies for clients under the guidance of faculty. Students refine their writing, research and presentation skills, allowing for a seamless transition into the working world, according to Matera.

students giving presentation

From left to right: Cronkite School students Kaylee Stock, Tyler Prime and Sierra Ciaramella give a presentation in the PR Lab.

 Part of finding success is connecting with inspiring mentors. Scott Pansky, co-founder of the award-winning global public relations firm Allison and Partners, has paved a road for Cronkite students to connect with mentors.

Pansky founded The Enid R. Pansky Mentorship Series exclusively at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication specifically for the Public Relations Lab. The series honors the entrepreneurial spirit of his mother and her role as mentor to many and creates an opportunity for a PR Lab student to spend quality time with an individual they wish to emulate.

Each spring the PR Lab Mentorship Lecture takes place and the Aspire Award is given to a selected aspiring public relations student. Previous mentors include John James Nicoletti, vice president of internal communications at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. His protégé, Tayllor Lillestol, is now a public affairs coordinator for The Walt Disney Company.

“John’s support and encouragement have helped so much, both in my adjustment to the professional world and in moving to a new city where I didn’t know anyone,” Lillestol said. “Now, almost two years after I started at Disney, John and I still meet on a regular basis. I know I can always turn to him for guidance — and luckily, he’s right down the hall.”

This year’s Aspire Award recipient, and 2016 PR News Student of the Year, is Caitlin Bohrer. Bohrer is a senior team leader in the PR Lab and currently working as a public relations intern at LaneTerralever, a Phoenix advertising agency. Joining her is her mentor Corey duBrowa, Starbucks senior vice president of global communications and international public affairs.

“This is amazing,” Bohrer said. “He’s had a very successful career, working for successful companies and now heading communications for Starbucks. I’m just really excited to talk to him and learn from his insight, how he’s built his career and how he’s learned to overcome different obstacles.”

duBrowa has over 20 years of experience, serving as an expert communicator for several high impact brands, including Nike and Microsoft. Today, he leads the development and execution of communication strategies for Starbucks, translating passion and expertise from his role on diverse teams.

Bohrer admires Starbucks for the brand experience they create and their social responsibility. Both of these fall in line with her future plans to apply her knowledge and serve the greater good, like a true Sun Devil.

“I hope to be able to work for a company or an agency where I am able to create that culture and brand experience,” she said. “Aside from coffee, it’s the corporate social responsibility of highlighting people who are doing great things for their community.”

duBrowa is scheduled to visit with Bohrer prior to the PR Mentorship Lecture in April. Bohrer plans to seek duBrowa’s personal and professional guidance well into the future.

Through the generous support of Pansky, mentors like Nicoletti and duBrowa have found a place at ASU to share their knowledge with those students who strive for their maximum potential in the communications field.

Pansky, although not an ASU alum, is committed to the ASU PR Lab based on its people and program content.

“The Aspire Award has truly become the highlight of our family’s donation over the past five years,” Pansky said. “ASU’s award-winning PR Lab is one of the strongest in the nation. We are so very proud that we can help bring inspirational public relations leaders such as Corey to campus so they can share their stories and advice for entering the communications arena.”

The PR Mentorship Lecture is free and open to the public.

What: Enid R. Pansky PR Mentorship Lecture
When: 7–8 p.m. April 10
Where: Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, First Amendment Forum, Downtown Phoenix campus
555 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Visit ASU Events for location information.

Meenah Rincon

Public Relations Manager, ASU Online

Statewide Science Olympiad draws 900 K-12 students, parents to ASU

April 3, 2017

Nearly 900 Arizona middle and high school students and parents were connected with college-readiness resources and the opportunity to learn about Arizona State University academic programs and services as part of the annual Science Olympiad State Tournament held March 25 at ASU’s Tempe campus.

“Arizona Science Olympiad was honored to be able to collaborate with ASU faculty and staff to promote STEM education in Arizona,” said Reina Gomez, state director of the annual competition. Participants at the Science Olympiad learn about ASU resources The Science Olympiad State Tournament attracted more than 1,000 students to ASU on March 25 to take part in the competition focused on building enthusiasm for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). An Open Door Resource Fair provided the students, parents and coaches an opportunity learn about academic programs and services available at ASU. Photo by Will Argeros Download Full Image

Science Olympiad is a national nonprofit organization that is committed to increasing student interest in science literacy. The objective of Science Olympiad is to create interest and build enthusiasm among students for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). This is accomplished through engaging, hands-on activities that encourage teamwork and active participation that enables provides sixth- through 12th-grade students a chance to put their knowledge into action in a competitive environment.

“Seeing the next generation of engineers building, programming, designing and creating was so exciting and rewarding. The faculty and students assisting truly enjoyed working with the students and left feeling inspired by the future of STEM — our youth,” said Hope Parker, associate director, P-14 Engineering Education and Outreach with the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The students competed in a broad range of STEM-focused Science Olympiad events led by more than 40 ASU faculty members and graduate students, with support from nearly 50 undergraduate student volunteers.

“ASU faculty and graduate students from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering did an amazing job serving as event supervisors and assistants,” said Michele Daley, senior director of recruitment and first-year programs with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “They demonstrated incredible enthusiasm — and a lot of hard work — in imparting science knowledge to younger versions of themselves,” Daley said.

Through a collaborative, university-wide effort, all teams and Science Olympiad supporters who participated in the statewide competition were invited to participate in the ASU Information Fair, which provided students, coaches, parents and guests an opportunity to explore all that the university has to offer while visiting ASU. Representatives from 13 colleges, departments and organizations across the university were present at the fair to share information regarding academic programs and services available at ASU, with a special focus on the STEM disciplines.

“Our goal at the Fulton Schools is to spread awareness, engagement, interest and understanding of engineering and how it plays a role in the world around us; being a part of the Science Olympiad was a wonderful collaborative event to do just that.  We can’t wait to see how these amazing youth change and impact the world,” Parker said.

Additionally, campus tours and a Parent Preview presentation were coordinated by ASU Admissions and Access ASU.

“Not only did the Science Olympiad participants receive information from STEM-focused schools, they also received critical information about how to prepare for college, university admission and the opportunity to explore career interests,” said Sylvia Symonds, assistant vice president of Educational Outreach and Student Services at ASU.

As a part of the resource fair, students also had the opportunity to try the me3®, an interactive online tool powered by ASU that enables students to match their interests to possible careers and college majors.

“I think at the ages many of these kids are, middle schoolers, they really have a lot of ideas of what they want to be, but they don’t know what options there are to get them to the end of this journey. This gives them a start, as a pathway,” said Phillip Everhart, a seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher at Surprise Elementary School in the West Valley.

Everhart said the representation from the liberal arts colleges at the fair was important too, because it broadened the students’ awareness of the many academic options and pathways that are available to them as they begin set and pursue their goals.

“Among the almost 900 middle school and high school students who took part in last weekend’s Science Olympiad are future scientists, doctors, citizens, community leaders, teachers, inventors, Noble Laureates and — I hope — Sun Devils,” said Paul LePore, associate dean with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “To see the energy and excitement in these kids’ eyes as they were 'doing' science — competing and winning awards on behalf of their schools — makes me proud that ASU sponsored this year’s Science Olympiad and could cheer on and support these students’ future academic successes,” LePore said.

For more information, contact Access ASU at 480-965-6060 or

Written by Will Argeros