Beyond the Classroom: Katelyn Rapp’s PR, Foreign Language Skills Help Her Give Back to Her Community

Torch image in the lobby of Campbell Library.

Today, we feature Public Relations major and senior Katelyn Rapp, a commuter from Pennsville, NJ (Salem County) and first-generation college student. Katelyn recently started interning for the nonprofit organization Miracle for Mateo. She’s also on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using her Spanish translation skills, Katelyn helps out her area’s testing site. Here, she tells us a little more about her experiences and how she’s helping her community.

Katelyn poses in her scrubs with a sign that says "A Hero Lives Here".

Tell us more about your public relations internship.Katelyn sitting at her dining table doing work for Miracle for Mateo on her computer.

I am currently working with Miracle for Mateo, a nonprofit that I have been familiar with since they started up 10 years ago. I actually got involved with them during this past semester because I was doing a couple PR and nonprofit related classwork.

Miracle for Mateo provides financial support for families with dependent children who: have complex congenital heart disease or life-threatening illness and are struggling through a lengthy hospitalization, waiting for an organ transplant, or living at home on hospice care.

I realized during a rhetorical analysis of their website that it was quite outdated and gave the impression that they were no longer a functioning NPO. I knew one of the board members personally, and I reached out to her to see if she would be open to some changes.

Before COVID started, I went to her house and we talked about all the changes needed. After some approval from the board I was able to rewrite all the body copy for the website, choose updated photos, recreate some graphics with InDesign and now we are about two weeks away from the new website going live!

Was there any Rowan affiliation?

As far as I know there is no affiliation with Rowan, but I actually think it could be a great idea to create some type of affiliation. They have some small projects that impact people on a great scale (of course I may be a bit biased). Can tab collections and food drives that benefit the families who are by their child’s side in the hospital are two of their longest-running projects that require a bit less ‘in person work’ but make a huge difference for the organization and their families.

How did you find the opportunity?

I found the opportunity by reaching out to one of the board members I knew personally. I grew up with her kids, and seeing if the organization would consider letting me help. In my ADV/PR Writing course I had to choose an organization to ‘write for’ throughout the semester, and I thought it would be a personal challenge to write for a NPO since all of my internship experience is in oil refineries and transportation. I also decided to analyze their website in my Writing for the NonProfit class since I was already writing a pretend backgrounder and had so much information on the organization. I found the website was outdated and generally needed some work, and although I know I am nowhere near an expert, I thought I might be able to help. 

How did you get involved in your county’s COVID-19 response?

My mom works for the Salem County Department of Health, and so naturally when COVID hit, she and her coworkers became the response team for my county. Soon enough, my county opened up a COVID testing site, and it became apparent that my county’s Hispanic population was getting hit harder than others. My mom and her coworkers had become contact tracers/COVID test site nurses and were trying to speak what little Spanish they could to communicate. I wrote up a little speech for my mom to use when she called someone to speak with them about results or the test site and they only spoke Spanish. When she came home, she told me the whole department was using it! She also told me that her boss was interested in seeing if I would volunteer at the test site as a translator. The next week I did my fit test, and the day after I went to the test site.

Tell us more about your skills as a translator and how that’s helped in your county’s COVID response.Katelyn posing outside wearing scrubs and holding a healthcare heroes sign alongside her two cats.

My skills as a translator allowed me to check in patients at the drive-up clinic, give them instructions on what to expect in the barns (testing area/hot zone), and if they had not signed up for testing before that day give them information on how and where to be screened before coming to the test site for a COVID test. I was also able to help the nurses/contact tracers by writing up some helpful Spanish phrases and a small script, which would allow them to explain who they were and that they would call back with a translator.

What are you looking forward to this semester or in the future?

I think I am looking forward to the same things as most students now, I would love to see a safe return to campus to continue my classes. This upcoming semester I am also starting the 4+1 (CAPD Program) Public Relations/Strategic Communication program, so I will start working towards my master’s while finishing my bachelor’s. Personally, I am really looking forward to traveling internationally again. I was planning on a couple of trips this year, but unfortunately traveling isn’t an option right now.”

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, senior music industry major

Photos provided by:
Katelyn Rapp

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