For the past 16 years, PRWeek has sponsored the Student of the Year competition for undergraduate students who excel in PR. Carmona and the other finalist, Katie Gatti from the University of Alabama, attended the PRWeek Awards ceremony in New York City on March 16.
"I am so honored and grateful to be the first PRWeek Student of the Year from the University of Maryland," Carmona said. "The PRWeek Awards Ceremony was an experience I will never forget and I couldn't ask for a better way to celebrate my achievements to date."
This year students were required to create a campaign for Swedish furniture retailer IKEA that includes unveiling a new spokesfigure to the U.S. public. The judges were impressed by Carmona’s American dream concept and her research.
“Carmona built her campaign around the American dream, a concept with universal appeal. Her expansive research indicated that IKEA’s best message was to convince U.S. consumers it could play a key role in helping them live their dreams, however they defined them,” according to the PR Week website.
A major element judges sought from students was research explaining their spokesfigure choice. “Carmona impressed here, too. She presented numerous pieces of research, ranging from focusing on the allure non-human characters can have with younger consumers to how animated, moldable characters can be brand symbols.”
"It was fun to develop a campaign for IKEA as a part of a midterm for my senior seminar PR course,” Carmona said. “This was one of those class assignments that felt applicable to the real world, and I know I will be able to use what I learned from Professor Simon's course to propel my public relations career in the future."
UMD professor Susan Whyte Simon assigned students to complete the IKEA challenge in COMM483: Senior Seminar in Public Relations. She encouraged students with the top proposals to submit their plans to PR Week.
“I am proud to represent the PR track here, and I know this award is just as much mine as it is my professors' over the years," Carmona said.
She is a communication major specializing in public relations and completing minor in Spanish. She serves as president of the University of Maryland chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. After joining her freshman year, she served as treasurer for three years.
“UMD PRSSA was a huge part of my undergraduate experience,” Carmona said. “I wouldn't be where I am today without the guidance and support of past PRSSA members and my mentors, Professor Rich Toth and Professor Susan Simon."
Carmona and PRSSA created the Vincent Tran Diversity Scholarship to honor a classmate club officer who passed away in September of 2016. She organized the first 5K run for PRSSA, "Run for your PR Memorial 5K,” which raised more than $1,700 for the scholarship fund.
Upon graduation in May, she will continue in her current role as corporate communications manager for the Washington Redskins. Carmona is the first public relations team member to be hired under Tony Wyllie, vice president of Public Relations, while still completing undergraduate classes.
She previously interned for the Redskins, Maryland Athletics and Lagardere Sports in New York.
Read more about Tish’s plan and the PR Week awards at http://www.prweek.com/article/1427700/outstanding-student-2017#6Eu1hSj8JzKttjlz.99
Elizabeth Fletcher Susan Whyte Simon, APR, Fellow PRSA
PRSSA Membership Chair PRSSA Faculty Adviser