2018 Scholarship Winners: Left to right, Irma Guardado, USF; Elsabete Kebede, SJSU; Angela Mesgarzadeh, UC Berkeley; Jasmine Garcia, SJSU. The Scholarship Awards took place as part of the April 24, 2018, meeting, held at Golden Gate University.
The four winners of the SF PR Round Table’s 2018 Philip N. McCombs Scholarships are going places, and our infusion of funding will help them get there. Members had the opportunity to meet these dynamic newbie PR practitioners at the scholarship lunch held on April 24, 2018. Each of the winners received a check for $2,500, which adds up to $10,000 in scholarship money gifted by our organization this year. That money comes from our members, primarily by means of the auction at our annual Holiday Party, and through generous direct donations to the Scholarship Fund. Students can use the funds for such purposes as paying their educational costs, financing relevant abroad programs, repaying loans, attending conferences or covering living expenses while they take on internships.
The 2017-18 scholarship cycle was our most competitive ever. We received some 30 eligible applications — double last year’s number — from students studying at nine colleges and universities in and around the Bay Area, and narrowed the field to eight finalists who each underwent a panel interview. The Scholarship Committee ultimately selected the four winners based on their applications, interviews, recommendations and writing samples. The students’ understanding of the PR profession, volunteer/work experience and commitment to the field also factored into the equation.
If you want to be inspired about the future of our profession, take a minute to read the winners’ bios below (we also list other finalists, as they will receive special benefits this year). Our four winners are a hard-working, ambitious bunch indeed, with one working full-time while attending grad school, and two working 20 hours a week to support themselves while earning their BAs. They have overcome financial hardships, and they have dealt with tragedy. Two of our winners lost their mothers at a young age, one while in high school, one while in college. They kept pushing forward, becoming ever more fiercely dedicated to the allied fields of public relations, marketing communications and the like. And they did it all while maintaining a 3.5 GPA or better.
Most importantly, our scholarship winners are a diverse group who want to bring more diversity to our profession, do good in the world and be on the cutting edge of technology.
We intend for our Scholarship ceremony to be the beginning of a relationship with these up and coming PR practitioners, not an end. This year we are offering all scholarship finalists (the four winners and the four runners up) a free associate membership in the PR Round Table for the remainder of 2018, and winners also received a free pass to our Member Mixer at the Equinox club on June 26, 2018. So keep an eye out for these new faces at upcoming events — they are eager to expand their networks, and they bring fresh perspectives on where our professional can and should go.
— Brenda Kahn, 2018 Chair
Note: Are you looking to fill an internship or entry-level job? If so, we would be happy to put you in touch with our scholarship winners/finalists, and/or announce the position in our next enewsletter and post it to the sfprrt.org website. Just email me at email@example.com
2018 San Francisco Public Relations Round Table Scholarship Winners
Jasmine Garcia is a senior majoring in Public Relations at San Jose State University. She has been active on campus throughout her academic career, serving as director of communications for the Associated Students government in 2016-17, and this year as president of the campus chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. She has worked as an events and promotion intern for the San Jose Downtown Association and as a public relations and social media intern for the Xerox Corporation. Garcia has also been active with the student-run advertising and public relations agency on campus, Dwight Bentel Hall Communications, where she has been leading a team that is writing and strategizing a PR campaign for a real client as part of the Public Relations Student Society of America’s Bateman Competition. She currently works 20 hours a week as a marketing content writer for the Associated Students Marketing and Events Department on campus, and plans to use the scholarship money to begin repaying her college loans. Stating in her application that she wants to use her public relations skills “to make an impact on a global level,” Garcia added that she wants to become “one of the few Latina women in the industry (and) to pave the way for more diversity in higher positions.”
Irma Guardado is currently a grad student in Professional Communication with a concentration in Strategic Communication at the University of San Francisco, having previously earned a bachelor’s in Public Relations at San Jose State University. She has been pursuing her master’s degree while working full-time as an integrated media intern at the S.F. office of Weber Shandwick, a leading global communications agency. She was a social media manager at www.expatsinmexico.com, and a marketing and communications intern for the San Jose State University Career Center. In the volunteer realm, she led a team in the planning and marketing of the Annual Cal State University Folklorico (Dance) Showcase at SJSU, among other activities. She will use the SFPRRT scholarship to help cover her tuition, and repay her student loans. Guardado is the first in her family to graduate from a university, and the first in her family to pursue a graduate degree. “In the future, I hope to open my own multicultural-focused PR agency in the Bay Area to effectively reach the Hispanic community,” she wrote in her application, “and to create relevant content and campaigns targeted to the bilingual population.” Guardado announced at the lunch that she had just been promoted from an intern position to a junior associate at Weber Shandwick, further proof of her capabilities and bright future.
Elsabete Kebede is a junior majoring in Public Relations, in the Journalism/Mass Communications Department at San Jose State University. She transferred into SJSU this academic year from De Anza College, where she worked on the school newspaper. Having emigrated from Ethiopia with her family at the age of four, Kebede is helping to foster understanding of her culture while honing her PR and event planning skills by serving on the marketing/PR Committee for the Ethiopian Eritrean Student Conference. She serves on the Social Media Committee of the campus branch of the Public Relations Student Society of America, and hopes to go to the organization’s National Conference in Austin this year. Largely self-supporting, Kebede works 20 hours a week doing social media for San Jose State University’s Justice Studies Department. She hopes to gain a global perspective through a study-abroad program — something the SFPRRT scholarship will help finance. A “passionate storyteller,” Kebede intends to go into entertainment public relations, where she can “be at the table promoting books and films that target underrepresented groups in our society,” she wrote in her application.
Angela Mesgarzadeh is a senior majoring in Media Studies at UC Berkeley. She has been very active in imagiCal — a fully student-run advertising agency representing the UC Berkeley chapter of the American Advertising Federation — for the past year serving as the organization’s PR director. In addition to this volunteer activity, she already has had five communications-related positions, including as a content writer for Upfizz Media; a digital marketing intern for Ticketmaster; and an integrated media intern at global PR firm Weber Shandwick. Her goal post-graduation this spring is to initially work for a public relations agency. “I believe the fast-paced work environment and diversity of client work that agencies can offer will allow me to learn and grow early on,” she wrote in her application. Mesgazardeh hopes to eventually transition to an in-house communications role at a media or consumer tech company, and in the longer term, to pursue a master’s degree in communications. The SFPRRT scholarships will help pay off her student loans, easing her transition into post-graduation life.
Other 2018 Scholarship Finalists (Also Offered an Associate Membership in the PR Round Table for the Remainder of the Calendar Year)
- Jing Xin, Golden Gate University grad student
- Ramya Ramamoorthy, St. Mary’s College, junior
- Courtney Visser, San Jose State University, senior
- Stephanie Pomales, UC Davis, senior