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

Exploratory Studies Student Finds His Passion: Political Science

Jason, wearing a Rising Rowan shirt, standing outside Bunce Hall

Rising junior political science major Jason Brooks, from Monroe Township, NJ (Middlesex County) shares his journey with us on how Rowan’s exploratory studies major helped to connect him with the right major for him: political science. The on-campus resident, who recently wrapped up his sophomore year, lived in one of our newest residence halls on Rowan Boulevard, 114 Victoria. 

I always knew when I was visiting other schools that Rowan was the place I ultimately wanted to call home. When I was accepted to Rowan, I came in as an Exploratory Studies student, and was wrestling between becoming a student in the Rohrer College of Business or becoming a political science major within the College of Humanities & Social Sciences. I always had a knack for politics, but was unsure if that was what I wanted to make my living off of it.

After discussions with my advisor, and attending workshops for both Jason, wearing a Rowan Rising shirt, standing in front of a flagprograms, courtesy of the Exploratory Studies program, I decided to pursue a political science degree. In addition to declaring my major, I also applied for the honors program, and was accepted into that program. As a political science student at Rowan, I have accomplished so much in my two years here. I was selected to be a member of the Student Alumni Association where I have engaged with proud Profs from all generations. From there, I was awarded a job in the admissions office as an Admissions Ambassador, giving campus tours to prospective students.

I have also gotten involved with student government, and this past fall I was elected as a Senator At Large, and was recently elected as Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs for the 2019-2020 school year. In addition, Rowan has afforded me the opportunity to work in the political field as well. I have been fortunate enough to hold two internships during our last summer recess and the fall semester respectively.

I am also looking forward to starting my new internship this summer in the New Jersey State House. These internships would have not been possible without the help of the great faculty I have been surrounded with here at Rowan. Specifically, I would not be where I’m at without the help of Dr. Ben Dworkin and his program with the Rowan Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship (RIPPAC).

Overall, Rowan has afforded me with so many opportunities to expand my network and professional experiences. In the future, I am planning on using my Rowan degree to make an impact on our government and political landscape. But for now, I am looking forward to what the rest of my Rowan experience has in store!

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Exploratory Studies Student: Allison Cespedes

student Allison outside of cherry blossom tree in Rowan hoodie

Meet Allison Cespedes who started off her Rowan experience as an exploratory studies major and discovered her interest in pre-med.

Allison sitting outside in a Rowan hoodie

“Hello! I’m Allison Cespedes, a first generation college student who is a senior psychology major on a pre-med track with an honors concentration. I am from Bridgewater, NJ (Somerset County) and have lived on campus all four years.

I’ve been a resident assistant and a student admissions ambassador for the past two years now and currently I am a resident assistant for the Whitney Center. I began my college career as an exploratory studies major after I took a career course during the summer, before coming into the fall semester. Starting off as this major gave me a good idea as to what I wanted to study for the rest of my time at Rowan.”

Allison wearing Rowan hoodie sitting on bench outside of Bunce

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Photography by: Vanessa Vause, senior public relations and theatre major

Meet our FAFSA Financial Aid Winner

Zoilemmy standing outside wearing the new Apple Watch that she won through the FAFSA contest
Zoilemmy standing outside showing off her new Apple Watch

Meet Zoilemmy Castellanos, a junior biological sciences major from Pennsauken, NJ. She’s the grand prize Apple Watch winner through the FAFSA financial aid contest! 

“It is a struggle sometimes, but being able to be an EOF/ASCEND student and fill out my FAFSA knowing I have the opportunity to study and make my dreams come true is a blessing in itself. I thank Rowan, my high school counselor, and God that I am able to go to school.”

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Photography by:
Jelani James senior journalism major

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Jakira McCoy

Jakira smiles in front of a white backdrop

Meet Rowan Choice student, Jakira McCoy, a sophomore business major with a minor in African studies from Camden, NJ (Camden County). Jakira lives on campus in Holly Pointe Commons as a Rowan College at Gloucester County community college student enrolled in the Rowan Choice program, which allows her to have the full college experience on Rowan’s campus, before she transfers to Rowan University. 

Jakira sits on her couch at Holly Pointe Commons“I chose Rowan because it was closer to home and I did not want to be too far from my family. I also chose to come here because of Rowan Choice​. It was a cheaper option and saved me a lot of money. Since you are technically enrolled in a community college, you still pay community college tuition. It helps a lot and makes the transition to Rowan University easier.”

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Story and photography by:
Edris Forde, junior radio/TV/film major

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