Exploratory Studies Leads to Perfect Match in Public Relations

Shaylin Heller, public relations major at Rowan University, walks past the book store holding her laptop and wearing sunglasses

Shaylin Heller, a rising senior public relations and advertising double major from Frenchtown, NJ (Hunterdon County), has so much passion for what she does, you would never guess she came into her freshman year overwhelmed with the thought of choosing a major. “In high school, what I thought I wanted to study changed every other week!” she says. Through a summer program, she started her freshman experience weeks before the fall semester started. “It was basically a Rowan 101 class, but more intimate because it was over the summer with a smaller group of students, so we were really able to get the know the campus and its programs before anyone else,” she recalls. Shaylin wears a denim jacket and holds her laptop outside of Barnes & Noble.

Initially, Shaylin enrolled as an Exploratory Studies major, unsure of what exactly she wanted to pursue a career in. “The advisors in the program would reach out to me and give advice as I was trying to figure out my major and career goals,” she recalls. Her schedule was created for her through the program’s academic advisors, based on introductory classes that pertained to her general interests. Of the classes chosen for her, including sociology and music, her favorite class by far was Introduction to Public Relations. “I loved that class. My best friend freshman year was a PR major, and I noticed how passionate and driven she was about it. It influenced me to get more involved, because I saw how happy she was in the program,” she says.

One of the assignments in the introductory class was to interview somebody within Public Relations, so Shaylin drove to meet the CEO of the Little Words Project, which she was familiar with through a project with her sorority. She was an ambassador for the company, which allows you to pass on confidence and inspiration by sharing a bracelet with others who may need a reminder of their strength. “Talking to the CEO was inspiring, and it was so interesting to see what her life and career looked like. It made me think, ‘I can really picture myself doing this in the future,’” Shaylin says.

Shaylin walks in front of the entrance to Barnes & Noble. “I always knew I wanted to do something more on the creative side,” Shaylin reflects. “I’m a visual learner and I like talking to people, so I wanted to do something where I’d be in a fast pace environment and constantly meeting new people.” Becoming a member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority confirmed her love of public relations, because of their philanthropic work and involvement with nonprofits. “Public relations is at the base of a lot of nonprofits, so getting involved with them really narrowed it down for me, that this is what I want to pursue.”

Flash forward to the end of her junior year, and Shaylin is currently searching for her dream internship, where she can apply everything she has learned the past three years. Her dream is to live in Philadelphia and work in the PR and advertising field. “Sometimes it can be hard to figure out which companies are real and authentic and will help you grow,” she says, “It can get a bit overwhelming, but it’s definitely helped me to come out of my comfort zone and narrow down my ideal job.”

“I loved having the opportunity to explore all the different fields – including ones I hadn’t even heard of before college – and being able to choose what I liked. It was less pressure, because a lot of people have the impression that you have to have a set major before even getting to college, so it reassured me that I didn’t have to know exactly what I was doing right away. Exploratory studies eased the pressure of not having that decision made yet.”

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Story and photography by:
Nicole Cier, rising senior writing arts major

Passing the Torch: Studio Art Grad Gives Advice

Kelsey, in her graduation gown, holding her decorated cap

“The best way I made friends was through my photography course,” says Kelsey Ross, a studio art major within the College of Communication & Creative Arts. Kelsey came to Rowan as a freshman, from Hillsborough, NJ (Somerset County.)

“Advice I would give my high school senior self would be to do your work, and do your best even when your best isn’t good enough,” she says. 

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Story and photography by:
Dean Powers, rising sophomore, radio/TV/film major

Passing the Torch: Political Science Major from Honduras Shares Tips for Success

Edwin, in his cap and gown, stands next to his four family members outside Savitz Hall

“The best way to connect with internships is through email and on-campus job fairs,” says political science graduate Edwin Benavides from Trenton, NJ (Mercer County), who is originally from Honduras. He suggests that incoming students, “take advantage of all assistance programs provided by the University.”

The advice he’d give to high school students is to, “take honors and advanced courses” to get ahead in college, says the College of Humanities & Social Sciences graduate who transferred to Rowan. 

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Passing the Torch: Public Relations and Advertising Grad Gives Advice

Alex, wearing his graduation cap and gown, standing on the Bunce Green.
Alex wearing graduation cap and gown on bunce green

‘”Faculty are very helpful with connecting you to internships and job opportunities.” says Alexander Belli, a dual major public relations and advertising  graduate, who was a commuter from Voorhees, NJ (Camden County). 

“The best advice I could give for new students on time management would be to look at your schedule every night and to be prepared,” says Alexander. “The advice I would give to my high school senior self would be don’t be afraid to make mistakes.” 

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Story and photography by : 
Dean Powers, rising sophomore, radio/TV/film major.

Passing the Torch: Studio Art Commuter Gives Advice

Rowan graduate standing outside after commencement

“The best way to make friends in college is to walk in and be the loudest guy in the room,” says CJ Haughey, a studio art transfer student (now graduate!) from Kensington, PA, who commuted to Rowan from an off-campus rental and graduated from the College of Communication & Creative Arts. 

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Story and photography by:
Dean Powers, a sophomore radio/TV/film major

From Exploratory Studies to Entrepreneurial Star

Jo Carter sits next to a Business Hall sign at Rowan University, wearing a pink button down blouse and holding a notebook

Jo Carter, a recently graduated senior from Lindenwold, NJ (Camden County), has always been full of ideas, but when she first transferred from Albright College, she wasn’t quite sure how to bring them to life. “I came to Rowan as an Exploratory Studies major, (within the College of Humanities & Social Sciences) unsure of what I wanted to do after graduation,” she says. “I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to be my own boss, which required getting into business. I decided to explore entrepreneurship after looking into the college of business, since that is what I was most interested in. And the rest is history!”

An article Jo came across on Snapchat sparked an epiphany, which would transform the rest of her time at Rowan. “The article discussed the fact that we will run out of fresh water by the year 2050. Here we thought we had an endless supply of water, but we really do not! I wanted to use my creativity to help,” she says.

Around the time she discovered the article, Jo was part of a class called New Ventures Development, where students expand on an idea for a potential startup business or product, and experience the process of bringing it to life. “In that class, I came up with the concept of a personal filtration system within a water bottle, called RefresH2O,” Jo says. “Wherever you are – hiking, spending time outdoors – you can scoop up water from a nearby body of water, and it will be filtered fresh. This will alleviate our plastic usage, and make us wiser about how we source our water.” Another class, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, helped Jo finalize the marketing plan and details for her product, including the target market and purpose. “I wanted to make a product that even a three year old could use. Everyone needs clean water — it’s a human right, but not everyone is lucky enough to have that,” she explains.

Jo notes her professors as the most impactful people in this stage of her life. “For a little bit, I became discouraged because not everything about my idea was perfect. That held me back a lot — the thought that I had to have everything completely set before putting it out there,” she reflects. She is grateful to have had class with Professor Kimble Byrd right before his retirement. “He was such an inspiration for the three or four semesters I had him. He kept us on our toes in class, and saw the fire in my belly and told me to keep my passion going, keep that drive, do what needs to be done, and just go for it.” Jo’s professors asked the tough questions she had tried to avoid in the past, and helped her stay on the track to success.

Her future plans include owning her own environmentally sustainable holdings or manufacturing company, and possibly even attending graduate school for a degree in engineering management, to continue to grow. She advises freshmen coming into the field to not let the idea of ‘perfection’ interfere with your goals. “‘Good’ is good enough; just get your name and idea out in the world and continue to work on your idea as you progress,” she says. “And keep track of your commitments! Juggling school work, being on the track team and my internship, senior year has been the most challenging year yet, but planning it all out and prioritizing made it a lot better.”

For now, Jo continues to accrue meaningful experience in the entrepreneurial field, working as an intern for the Office of Technology Commercialization at the tech park. “If a faculty member or student has research and the beginnings of a new venture or product that they are interested in marketing, we help them patent it, market it, or possibly license their technology,” she explains. As an intern for the office, Jo helps to build the content for the website and market the services the office has to offer.

“Now that I am familiar with the office and how it runs, I know that I can come here with my future projects and they will help me. I have a vision, I have a plan, and now my goal is to find similar people who can help me bring this to life. My mind just never shuts off with all these different ideas, and the entrepreneurship program here has really helped me put everything on paper. ”

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Story and photo by: Nicole Cier, junior writing arts major

Passing the Torch: Music Industry, First Generation Student Gives Advice

Three Rowan graduates standing together outside Robinson Hall

“The best way to connect with internships and job opportunities was through the Rowan Music Group and speaking to your professors,” says first generation college student Emilio Del Hierro, an international student from Ecuador and a recent music industry graduate from the College of Performing Arts. Emilio rented an off-campus apartment and commuted to Rowan. 

To manage your time effectively, make sure to,”write everything down and keep an agenda!” 

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Story by:
Chad Wittman, rising senior journalism major

Photography by:
DeanPowers, rising sophomore radio/TV/film major

Passing the Torch: Radio/TV/Film Grad Gives Advice

Radio/Tv/Film graduate poses in his black cap and gown.

The best way to make friends is by joining “clubs in your major,” says Taylor Forte, a Radio/TV/Film graduate from Brick Township, NJ (Ocean County), who rents off campus and commutes to Rowan. Taylor celebrated his graduation a the College of Communication & Creative Arts ceremony. 

To make the most out of the college experience he says you should “never take yourself too seriously.” It’s also about “quality friends over quantity.”

Graduate Taylor Forte poses in his black cap and gown.

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Story by: Iridian Gonzalez, rising junior journalism major 
Photos by: Dean Powers, rising sophomore radio/TV/film major

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