May 2, 2017
New Baylor PRSSA president Andrea Gaul (second from left) visits Fleishman Hillard in Dallas along with other Baylor PRSSA members.
By Olivia Berry, public relations student
Baylor Public Relations senior Andrea Gaul remembers sitting in a journalism class during her freshman year. A guest speaker was presenting, and as she scrambled to take notes Gaul noticed the speaker kept emphasizing a specific point.
“Her presentation was all about networking with Baylor graduates,” Gaul said. “As a new journalism student that nearly sent me into a panic because I didn’t know anyone who had ever gone through the journalism program here.”
Three years later, Gaul has extended her network to include Baylor alumni and beyond.
Gaul was elected president of the Baylor University chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) during the April 25 chapter meeting. As a student who has participated in PRSSA since her freshman year, Gaul hopes to use her new position to bring graduates of the Baylor Journalism, Public Relations and New Media program back to Baylor so they can connect with current Baylor students.
“The networking that is available to us as Baylor students is incredible because so many people who’ve gone through the department are out in the world with jobs and experiences we can all benefit from,” Gaul said.
Throughout her time at Baylor, Gaul has had multiple internships including Donna Wick PR, Dwyer Group, and Baylor Libraries and Information Technology Services (ITS), and she credits the Baylor alumni network for these opportunities.
“I can honestly say that doors have opened up for me because of alumni,” Gaul said. “I’ve found that Baylor Bears are so much more willing to hire other Bears and I’ve truly benefited from that.”
Gaul was able to connect with one alumna of the department in particular, Carlye Thornton, BA ’14. Thornton is the communications coordinator and digital design specialist for marketing and communications for Baylor Libraries and ITS.
As a part of Baylor’s Advanced Public Relations class, students are required to complete an internship. Gaul worked for the Libraries and ITS, with Thornton as her supervisor.
“The experience of working with someone who has already gone through the program is invaluable,” Gaul said.
As a Baylor graduate, Thornton also cites the importance of alumni in expanding her network and building her skills.
“I’ve remained close with journalism faculty and often speak to journalism classes about my experience or give lectures from time to time,” Thornton said. “I just can’t seem to get enough of this great program.”
Thornton added that she was able to find her current job through a professor and Baylor alumna in the journalism department.
In the time Gaul has been able to work with Thornton, she said she has felt increased confidence in her skills in networking. She hopes to be able to empower more current journalism students to connect with alumni as well.
“PRSSA is a great way for current students to meet Baylor alumni,” Gaul said. “But whether or not students participate in PRSSA … I hope they are meeting alumni through in-class guests or through journalism events.”
An enticing aspect of the journalism program is the diversity in panels of people in the journalism workforce, which would not be possible without alumni support.
“Since I’m getting ready to graduate, the student-alumni relationship means everything,” Gaul said. “I’m excited to reach out to alumni to have them come back to this place we can all thank for molding us.”