Spotlight: Rachel Willis

Twitter | LinkedIn

What made you want to get into public relations?

I am a naturally outgoing person. My friends joke that I could even befriend a rock if I tried. When I was looking at potential majors, I realized PR is founded upon genuine, mutually beneficial relationships with others including clients, publics and coworkers. Moreover, PR requires strong writing skills on a variety of platforms. I have always loved to write and to share other people’s stories. So when I finally had to choose a major, I knew PR was the right fit for me because it values relationship building, writing and storytelling.


What is your year in school?

My situation is a little confusing. I am in my second year at Duquesne University; however, thanks to the college courses I took in high school, I am considered a junior in credits.


How do you explain your major to other people?

When I tell others I am a double major in Public Relations and International Relations, I always follow up with, “Basically, I am getting a degree in relationships.” Although this is a simple synopsis of these two majors, I think it humorously defines the most important aspect of each: Relationships. The PR profession would not exist without relationships founded upon mutual responsibility, integrity and trust. Moreover, PR and IR emphasize understanding and compromise when building and maintaining these relationships. I think both of these qualities are needed more in the world today.


What do you hope to do with your degree?

With my degree, I hope to foremost share the stories of others with the people who care about them the most. As human beings, we are natural storytellers. A degree in PR though means I am equipped with a valuable set of verbal and written communication skills to effectively share these stories.

Ultimately, I would like to use my degree to share the stories of those individuals, organizations and businesses that invest time, energy and money in sustainable community service and engagement projects benefiting underserved communities and groups throughout the world. There are numerous non-profit organizations that work daily to provide social and economic opportunities for these communities yet their stories go untold. I believe the PR skillset is a valuable tool for these organizations. I hope to one day be able to share their stories, expand their audiences and, overall, raise awareness about the important work they humbly do everyday improving the lives of others and making the world a better place.


How did you feel when you learned you won the Bob O’Gara scholarship?

Initially, I was utterly surprised and, then, extremely grateful. I was thankful that my time and energy invested in being a disciplined student had paid off. Additionally, this scholarship is going to help pay for my study abroad program next fall in Chile. I am thankful that my hard work and passion for PR has earned me this recognition.


Why do you believe PRSA is beneficial?

PRSA allows its members to be a part of a local public relations community and do what so many PR professionals do best: socialize and network. Moreover, PRSA serves as the ideal environment for a sharing of new ideas and fluid discussion of industry-defining trends. To be cliché, two heads are always better than one. PRSA provides PR professionals with the opportunity to brainstorm the next big-idea in a supportive community of distinguished and experienced peers.


What’s one thing other PRSA members should know about you?

I am a strong advocate for women’s rights and girls’ empowerment. My interest in these issues led me to become involved with Duquesne’s Chapter of Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG), a mentoring organization which serves to foster a safe and strong communities for young, at-risk girls in the Pittsburgh area where they can learn about successful female role models, develop leadership skills and feel empowered to pursue college. This year, I am the Social Media & Outreach Coordinator for SWSG. In this position, I have been able to use PR to share SWSG’s story with others. I believe this position is critical for our fundraising efforts as well as our audience’s overall awareness of issues currently affecting women and girls’ empowerment throughout the world.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave the field below empty!