Charles S. Smith Scholarship Spotlight

Each year, PRSA Rochester celebrates the work of an area student by awarding the Charles S. Smith Scholarship

This scholarship honors former president of the PRSA Rochester Chapter and Bruse award winner, Charles (Charlie) Smith, who passed away in November 2007 after a courageous battle with cancer. Through the scholarship fund, Charlie’s legacy and commitment to the profession lives on.  

Scholarships are awarded to members of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), enabling them to attend conferences and other educational events. Candidates go through a rigorous application process and are recognized for their early commitment to the field. 

The 2016 scholarship was awarded to Olivia Rotondo, a senior at St. John Fisher College. We sat down with Olivia to discuss her plans for the scholarship, her involvement in PRSSA, and her career aspirations. 

How do you plan to use the Charles S. Smith Scholarship funds?
I will use this scholarship money to help advance my chapter in years to come. Given that we have not had a lot of funding in the past, I will use half of the money to help more chapter members attend conferences. For example, it could cover the cost of transportation as well as registration fees for both regional conferences and the PRSSA National Conference. I plan to use the other half for college expenses. 

You’re currently the co-president of St. John Fisher’s PRSSA chapter. How has your involvement with the chapter helped you? 
Over the past few years, our chapter regained its popularity among students and in the community. I was lucky enough to be involved in the process of rebuilding the foundation for our chapter. Throughout my time PRSSA has opened the door to a lot of opportunities for me, such as attending both the 2015 and 2016 PRSSA National Conference. As a result of those connections my involvement has increased each year and I hope to help continue our chapter’s momentum. 

What advice do you have for students looking to get involved in PRSSA and pursue a career in PR?
You’re never going to know it until you try it. PRSSA is a gateway into the PR world. It is built on giving students the help they need to form connections and networking with others. My chapter has been responsible for helping me develop personally and professionally by aiding in resume building and internship opportunities. My advice for students who are looking to get involved is try it. It is an organization that can help you throughout your professional life. 

What do you plan to do after graduation in May?
After graduation, I hope to pursue a job within the fields of public relations, social media, and videography!