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Carissa Brzezinski

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is the first university in the UW System to offer a public relations (PR) major—the only certified PR major in the state.

“The PR major helps meet a significant demand for public relations practitioners and media writers working for online media and other businesses,” Tim Gleason, UW Oshkosh journalism department chair, said. “Both public relations and journalism majors are working for organizations that didn’t exist a decade ago.”

This is the first semester students can declare a major in PR, a program that focuses on areas of internal and external as well as corporate communication for students interested in public relations and related professions. Prior to being offered as a major, PR was offered as an emphasis in the journalism department.

UW Oshkosh was also the first university in Wisconsin to earn the Certification in Public Relations (CEPR), a designation only 28 schools have earned.

“It can be difficult for future university students and their parents to know which academic programs are the best ones,” Gleason said. “By having the certified public relations major, it shows that the journalism department offers a high-level of public relations education compared to the competition.”

For Carissa Brzezinski, a senior from Wild Rose, Wis. and the first student to declare a public relations major, having the only certified PR major in Wisconsin was a big draw to the major.

“I like bragging that we are the only university in Wisconsin that has a certified PR major,” Brzezinski said. “The journalism department already has a great reputation, so having a major in PR gives UW Oshkosh even more credibility.”

Originally a radio-TV-film major, Brzezinski took an interim introduction to public relations course and said she fell in love with PR.

“The more classes I take, the more I fall in love with PR,” Brzezinski said. “I plan to combine my love for PR with my passion for sports.”

Brzezinski, who was the first sideline reporter for TitanTV, said the University faculty and staff are really open and receptive to ideas. For Brzezinski, it was taking initiative and asking questions that lead her first to become a sideline reporter and later to pursue an internship in the journalism department.

Brzezinski is working as a social media intern through the Student Titan Employment Program (STEP). STEP provides funding for internships aimed at giving UW Oshkosh students high-impact, campus-based opportunities in their area of study.

“I was terrified to pursue an internship because I had never had one,” Brzezinski said. “By working on campus in a social media internship, I am gaining a lot of real-world experience and confidence.”

Brzezinski said the support and learning environment in her on-campus internship has helped her gain confidence and prepare for the next steps in her career after graduation.

“I am applying knowledge I am gaining in the classroom and my internship really allows me to fully grasp my classes and see the information in a new light,” Brzezinski said.

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