Embracing the Changes: Meet Sophia Damon

If you had asked me four years ago what I would be doing during my last semester at college, I would have probably told you applying to graduate schools for a doctorate in physical therapy. Back then I thought I had my whole life planned out, and nothing was going to get in the way of that plan. I could guarantee if you told freshman year me that during my college experience, I was going to change my major three times and spend most of my college experience amid a pandemic, I would have told you that you were crazy. Looking back, I was the crazy one for thinking I had my whole life figured out at 18.

In high school I was the kind of science-savvy student that could study biology notes for half an hour and ace the test, but when I started at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Health Sciences in 2018, I quickly realized that was not the case in college level science. I was spending hours every night studying anatomy and biology and found myself burnt out only a month into the school year. I felt lost because I realized that physical therapy was not the path for me, but I did not know what else to do.

During the second semester of sophomore year I decided to make a change and double major in public relations and communications. People tried to talk me out of it because it was such a big switch to make halfway through my college experience. I was apprehensive about making this change, but I realized that I had nothing to prove to myself or anyone else by staying in my major. It was a bold move, but it was the best decision I could have made.

I chose communications because I had already taken a Communication Fundamentals course and enjoyed it, but I really had no idea what public relations was all about until I started doing a bit more research. On first glance, I thought it would be a good addition to my communications major, but I quickly realized it was the perfect career path for me. For the first time at URI, I was truly enjoying my classes, and completing assignments was not the daunting task as it once was. Finally I was excited to go to class and learn. I liked how interactive the classes were and how much we worked in groups during class, which was something we never did in STEM classes. I was able to meet more people and make friends from these classes that I still spend time with today.

Most importantly, I found something that I was passionate about, and I wanted to continue to learn more about public relations and get as involved with it as I could. I joined the URI Chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and quickly took on the role of alumni relations coordinator, where I have collected many connections and developed my networking skills. I also started taking on leadership roles in other organizations that involved some of my public relations knowledge. This fall, I oversaw the planning and decorating my sorority house for recruitment, which allowed me to use my creative and budgeting skills to create an exciting experience for prospective students touring. After establishing a solid baseline of skills and knowledge from classes and a prior internship, I joined Caster Communications this semester as an intern. I am so excited to be getting hands on experience working for a PR agency, and I feel like now I can really apply what I’ve learned in class to a real-life setting.

After recently starting my last semester of college and graduation being so close to the horizon, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the entire experience and what has led me to where I am today. As I wrap up my senior year at URI, I am also interning at Caster Communications on the days I do not have class. This is not something I would have even considered doing four years ago, but my passion, my skillset, and my networking opportunities through PRSSA alumni relations helped me find my way: After applying to Caster’s internship, I connected with Lexie Gardiner, an account executive at Caster and a URI PRSSA alumna, to interview her for my alumni newsletter spotlight and to hear more about the opportunities for interns at Caster. Needless to say, my networking and communication skills worked in my favor, and now I’m at Caster supporting research projects for media contacts, speaking opportunities, industry trends, pitching and more.

Although I still wish I was able to plan out my entire life path, I think the most useful skill I learned in college is to expect and embrace change.  I may not know what is in store for me after graduation, but I am excited to see what happens.

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