Before she took the class Content Development for Public Relations, Isabella Szklany ’21 didn’t imagine herself baking cookies and handling PR for a local nonprofit that sends children with life-threatening and/or terminal illnesses and their families on an all-expense paid vacation to ALL the theme parks in Orlando, Florida.
“Not only did we get to learn how to write press releases, develop social media content and host an event, but we also got to put everything we learned into practice,” Isabella says. “We worked with Baking Memories 4 Kids and my class and I ran their social media pages, hosted bake sales, and had a campus event to help raise awareness for the organization among a younger target audience.”
This semester, Isabella is continuing to contribute to the group’s mission, managing its Instagram page and writing newsletters as an intern. She is excited to be part of the effort: Baking Memories 4 Kids has sent nearly 200 families to Florida theme parks over the past eight years.
Isabella says that this experience is one of many made possible by Professor Elaine Winship in STAC’s Communication Arts Department which has helped confirm her plan to pursue a career in communications. “Professor Winship has shown me how you can help others while having fun working in the field,” Isabella says. “I want a rewarding career where I enjoy going to work every day, while also positively impacting others.”
Isabella is an honors student, who is active on campus as president of the Communication Arts Club, an Orientation Leader, and a Resident Assistant. She also contributes to The Thoma, the college newspaper. In addition, Isabella is continuing a research project she started in high school that examines the effects of Smartphone use on the mental health of college students, with the help of Dr. Ben Wagner, assistant professor of psychology. “We are trying to propose a study to determine if social media or something else on the phone is tied to mental illness,” she says. This will be Isabella’s second year presenting her research at Ignite.
In her free time, Isabella enjoys baking, watching old movies—especially those starring Audrey Hepburn, and getting outdoors. She loves her dog Egypt, who barely escaped another fate before she was rescued. “Seven years later,” Isabella says, “she lives her days out napping and convincing my entire family to give her bananas, her favorite snack!”
Next year, Isabella is excited to pursue more internships, work in STAC’s new media lab and TV studio, and spend time with the friends she’s made on campus. Longer term, she looks forward to becoming a public relations specialist and possibly continuing her education to earn a master’s or doctorate.
Her mentor, Professor Winship, has no doubt that Isabella will be a great success. “I realized she was special the moment we met,” she recalls. “She never misses an opportunity to strive above and beyond—she’s consistently awesome! As I watch her journey unfold at STAC, I am honored to have her as a student and am certain she will do great things with her degree.”