Resilient PR Students Rise up to the Challenge (Part I)
By Anna Deregowski and Tasha Jean Baptiste
After the five-week college strike in Ontario, we returned to campus. The return was difficult for some students. The feelings of anxiety and uncertainty were there, especially in regards to the new adjustments that have been made for students to complete their semester. Nonetheless, we were relieved, and certainly happy to reconnect with our classmates and professors, and to return to our studies.
Working during the strike
During the strike, we met with our PR classmates on campus every week. Committed to our studies and inspired to grow into the best future PR professionals, we remained productive and worked on our assignments, individually and in groups. We believed that the return to our classes would be eminent. Arriving to campus during the strike was not always easy. Justin Pinto recalls that, “…it was weird being in Seneca at first because the classrooms were all empty.” What motivated Pinto, and students like him, was the certainty that he “could always find groups of students working in the library and study rooms.”
We remember our PR classmates considering their studies even when their strike situation was dire simply because that’s what the PR profession entails. Jessica Violo understands that in PR, it is important be proactive rather than reactive. “We viewed the strike as an opportunity to get ahead and continue our education on our own,” Violo recalls.
“PR never stops and neither do we,” she adds.
Despite the challenges of the strike, students are adapting. We joined our classmate Mark Nardi in the library and asked him about his first week back. Nardi already speaks like a future PR professional. He explains that coping in these circumstances is difficult, and being solution oriented is part of the job. “It’s about organized chaos, planned as you want, so that someone else can laugh at those plans as they burn and then you throw yourself back into fixing it,” he tells us. Nardi looks up to his professors, and pays close attention to how they adapt and work with students during these moments. “Our profs are showing us by firsthand example how to do it like masters,” he shares.
Beth Agnew, Chair of the School of Media at Seneca, congratulates students for making the best of their situation during the strike. “They turned a crisis into motivation and fodder for their activities,” she acknowledges. For Chair Agnew, the way that students handled their situation will impress future employers. “Not only will they be able to speak confidently in a job interview about how they handled a difficult situation, but the skills they’ve honed will serve their employers well,” she warmly observes. In this way, Chair Agnew encourages students to continue their journeys regardless of the challenges ahead.
It is just the beginning!
Now that we are back, we should be proud of ourselves and of one another. We did the best that we could given the difficult situation that we were in. By taking matters into our own hands during the strike, when professors were unreachable, we gained a new level of professionalism. Better yet, we gained it by working together. Our semester may be extended, and our courses compressed, but our motivation to work together and help one another succeed remains strong.
This entrepreneurial spirit will shape who we are as future professionals and as caring and active members of society. Take a look at this inspiring Twitter message by our classmate Ran Luo. Hopefully, it will resonate with you: “All of you inspire me in different ways, and push me to be better. So, while the competitor in me can’t wait to see what else you have up your respective sleeves, the friend in me can’t wait to celebrate crossing the finish line with you”.
Anna Deregowski received her undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto where she majored in English and minored in history and linguistics. She would like to resume studies in history one day. Anna is fond of ideas, old and new, that explore time. She likes to look at people captured in old photographs and imagine who they were and what their life was like.
Tasha Jean Baptiste was born and raised in Port-au- Prince, Haiti. Although forever a Haitian at heart, home is Canada. She is currently enrolled in the Public Relations-Corporate Communications program at Seneca College, with the dream of running her own PR firm. An avid student, Tasha is passionate to learn which includes watching long hours of cooking shows even though she never makes the recipes.