April is known as National Donate Life Awareness Month and April 11 in particular, is celebrated as National Living Donor Day. At Chestnut Hill College, in acknowledgement of this national celebration and in support of Gift of Life, College President, William Latimer, Ph.D., and PA State Senator Amanda Cappelletti have officially proclaimed April 11th as Gift of Life Day on the Hill.
Over the past two years, the Media and Communications Department at Chestnut Hill College (MCOM) has focused on providing experiential learning as part of the curriculum. In small and highly interactive classes, students engage in creative professional workshops in journalism, public relations, and CHCTV media production. Last year was the first year for Griffin PR, MCOM’s newest workshop. The workshop runs like a real public relations agency. Students are placed in experiential learning opportunities to learn presentation skills that they may experience in a real work situation and critical thinking skills to develop and implement a public relations tactic.
This year, Griffin PR focused on how to create a strategic public relations plan for MCOM. As part of the public relations plan, Griffin PR will participate in the Gift of Life College Challenge for the second straight year. This challenge provides students a chance to spotlight their work with Griffin PR as well as to spread the word about organ donation among the campus community.
Last year, Chestnut Hill College won second place among 17 other participating Pennsylvania colleges and universities, doing so with a comprehensive campaign that included PSAs, advertising, and a culminating event where individuals could learn more and sign up to become organ donors.
“Taking classes is great but hands on experience is the best thing to happen for this major,” says Griffins for Life President Sarah Walker ‘23. “I came into Chestnut Hill College as a Biology major and changed to Communications and this was the best decision for me. My classes have changed my outlook on what I want to do.”
Walker, who plans to pursue graduate school as part of Chestnut Hill College's new Master's in Digital Communication, emphasized how Griffin PR has pushed her to listen to her team, collaborate and be able to delegate tasks as president. “It took me out of my comfort zone,” she notes. “Last year we only had one semester for the campaign. We had to work quickly, and the event turned out well.”
Gail Ramsey, Assistant Professor of Public Relations and supervisor of Griffin PR has always prioritized giving students something tangible within their class work, stating, “I’ve been teaching for over 10 years. My philosophy has been to connect theory to something real and that matters.”
In addition to the Griffins for Life campaign, Griffin PR connects students to professionals in the field. This year a group visited a PR agency in Philadelphia and has welcomed several guests to campus to share their knowledge and insight about the industry. “I get inspired by the students for their interest and enthusiasm, and it’s rewarding as a professor to witness students finding their voice and their way,” says Ramsey.
“There are over 100,000 persons on the national transplant waiting list,” notes Latimer in his proclamation. “Griffin PR, the student-led public relations workshop, was asked to plan, promote, and execute campus outreach aimed at registering new donors, as part of the course. Students gain real-world experience that contribute in significant ways to humanity. It is great that our students get to bring us together as community in this way to shape and improve the College experience for today’s students.”
On April 11th at 2pm, in Fournier Circle, Griffin PR is hosting an event with yard games, food, and more to get students engaged with Griffins for Life.
“There is significantly higher interest this year with the marketing students and athletes serving as volunteers for our scheduled signature event. We hope to see many students there” says Ramsey.
- Jaime Renman