By: Fatima Magana '22
ALLIANCE, OH- During the 2022 spring semester, the University of Mount Union’s Media Copywriting course worked with James Knight, crime prevention specialist from the Stark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and Rachel Larson ’04, a Mount Union alumna and Partners Against Trafficking of Humans Stark (PATHS) volunteer, to develop campaign ads for PATHS.
Knight stated that PATHS is an educational organization made up of volunteers and social workers that work (to raise awareness and help those in need) with other human trafficking organizations like Not for Sale, One Step at a Time, rehab centers, ministries and law enforcement.
Knight added that because the organization wanted to hear what college students thought about the case, Larson reached out to Dr. Andrea Ferraro, associate professor of public relations at Mount Union to collaborate on different advertising campaigns.
“Rachel and James visited my class to present the client information and problem to the students,” said Ferraro. The students then, with Ferraro, Knight and Larson’s guidance, worked on a variety of advertising campaigns such as billboards, print, radio and social media ads.
According to Jaylene Martinez ‘25, a sport business major and communication studies minor with a concentration in public relations, the class was divided into three groups whose task was to design four media ad campaigns in one month.
“I felt well prepared to apply what we learned in class to complete the task for the organization. Dr. Ferraro was also available to address any questions or revisions to improve our project before the presentation day,” explained Martinez. “This course prepared me for my work study where I will be working with a non-profit organization doing similar things that I did in this class. As a sport business major, long term, this course helped me develop a deeper understanding of some of the things major companies do and how they can be improved.”
“After presenting my project, I gained insight of the signs of human trafficking and now feel better prepared to help those around me if I were to ever see someone exhibiting them,” added student Madison Wilke ‘24, a public relations major and French minor.
“From what my partner and I could see, the students seemed passionate and inspired to take on this kind of project,” said Knight, who expressed feeling humbled to work with Dr. Ferraro’s class. “One student even came up to us afterward and said this felt more like a passion project than just another class assignment and some have expressed interest in getting more involved.”
“Working with this organization impacted my future because it expanded my goal in wanting to start or be a part of another organization like the one we worked with,” stated Martinez. “I have a passion for youth education on goals, life experiences and public speaking. This organization helped prepare me for that passion.”
This project and organization also impacted Wilke’s future. “Working with PATHS allowed me to work with a client for the first time. Being able to connect with an organization and talk with them through the process of creating an advertising campaign was an amazing opportunity! This project also introduced me to the world of non-profits and showcased a career path that I am now considering,” explained Wilke.
Public relations is a popular career field in the United States, and the University of Mount Union is known to have a great public relations major. Dr. Ferraro explained that Mount Union’s public relations program has been ranked as high as the eighth best program in the nation by study.com based on its career and internship opportunities for students, the quality of education and its faculty.
In addition, the University’s program is one of two accredited programs by the ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs) in the United States and a certified program by PRSA (Public Relations Society of America).