Back-to-School Inspiration

by Peggy Schreiner
St. Charles Community College
Cottleville, MO

The words “back to school” have new meaning to me this year, because while things are abuzz during the workday and we’re immersed in marketing and public relations campaigns related to enrollment, student engagement and upcoming events, I’m also getting ready to teach my first-ever “Intro to Public Relations” class on Wednesday evenings at St. Charles Community College.

As I’ve been collecting resources and lining up guest speakers for the class, I’m reminded of how excited I was when I first learned about the field of public relations, and how passionate I still am today about the choice I made to do what I do. I hope I can convey some of that enthusiasm to my students, and I hope they can get even the slightest bit excited about what they’re learning (and see past the fact that I’m probably a little weird).

Fortunately, the job outlook for the field of public relations is good, and it remains a relevant and growing field where we as practitioners embrace the tools of today to communicate responsibly and ethically, to build communities, or even to inspire and persuade others to take action. Of course, the students will have to learn how to write a news release, but there is so much more to it. I’d love for my students to get as excited about technology, mobile devices, apps, social media, online media as I am, so they, too, are able to use stories, photos, video, blogs and emails in new and expanded ways.

So why did I agree to take on the responsibility of teaching an evening class? Maybe I’m still trying to convince myself, but I remember the people who believed in me, mentored and encouraged me, and gave me the resources I needed to get a degree, to get a job and to be successful in what I do. Teaching gives me even more opportunities to share some of that with others.

And if I might reflect a little on our students …

In my time working at a community college, I’ve heard hundreds of inspirational stories of lives that have changed because people were able to get the education they needed, stories of perseverance, determination, accomplishment, success, triumph, second chances, do-overs, family support, life decisions, career changes, retraining, budget restrictions. The list goes on.

Like many others reading this blog, I have the privilege of talking to these students and alumni regularly. I know that in our jobs as communicators we play an important role in their educational journey. Whether we’re promoting our programs or communicating with parents and students about enrolling, with legislators about funding, with business leaders about giving or workforce training, what we do ultimately impacts our students, our workplaces and our community.

Hope everyone has a fantastic fall semester.

Peggy Schreiner is public relations coordinator at St. Charles Community College in Cottleville, Missouri. 

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