PRSA Oregon Awards Top Honors to Three Emerging PR Professionals

For two decades, the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) has called upon our the PRSA Oregon chapter to jury the Jack Ewan Award for Outstanding Public Relations Senior. This year, we were also invited to judge the Liz Cawood Award for Service to UO PRSSA and the Community.

A member of the faculty from 1964 until his retirement in 1985, Ewan is credited with building the UO’s public relations courses into an accredited major. He was responsible for the founding of the first Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter (PRSSA) at the University of Oregon, the first in the Northwest District.

The Jack Ewan Award is presented each year to the outstanding senior member of PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America), University of Oregon Chapter. The award recognizes both achievement and potential in a senior student and is named in honor of Jack Ewan, Professor Emeritus, and founder of the University of Oregon Chapter of PRSSA. The award is sponsored by the Oregon Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

The Liz Cawood Award is also presented each year to a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America, University of Oregon Chapter, for outstanding commitment to service to PRSSA and the community at large.  The award is named in honor of Liz Cawood, first UO PRSSA professional advisor and a founding member of the Greater Oregon Chapter of PRSA. The award is sponsored by Cawood.

Liz Cawood, president of Cawood, a communications and PR firm in Eugene and a longtime supporter of the SOJC, worked with Ewan to found the Greater Oregon PRSA chapter as well as the UO PRSSA chapter.  She says she fondly remembers “talking with Ewan about public relations strategies.”

This year’s jury for each award comprised Patti Atkins, APR, PR consultant; Liz Cawood, APR, President at CAWOOD;  Sally Ridenour, APR, Chief Content Strategist at Oregon Department of Transportation; Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, President of Publix Northwest PR – PA; David Thompson, APR, integrated PR practitioner; Andrea Watson, APR, Communications and Public Affairs Supervisor at Tualatin Valley Water District; and Mara Woloshin, APR, Fellow PRSA of Woloshin Communications. Danowski Smith chaired the jury and serves on the 2020 PRSA Oregon chapter board.

In this academic year, a tie was declared between the top tow two excellent candidates, each receiving a monetary award as part of the esteemed designations for the Jack Ewan award. Each displayed excellent academic performance as well as strong goals for their post-graduation lives. The winners were announced and formally awarded at the 2020 J-School’s commencement ceremony on June 20th.

The 2020 Jack Ewan Award for Outstanding Public Relations Senior was awarded to UO SOJC seniors Ariana Gaspar and Kyra Hanson. Both were honored for strong academic focus and for their outstanding leadership at UO’s PRSSA chapter.  For Ariana, a judge noted “Ariana also described the importance of the U of Oregon’s PRSSA chapter, where she ‘found a community.’ She has taken every opportunity to not just join, but join in the meaningful experiences and new roles the PRSSA chapter afforded her. As a senior, she is now part of the chapter’s leadership team.” Ariana has landed an internship at Quinn-Thomas

The judge added Ariana’s “future goals are inspiring. She wants to help organizations understand their purpose and positively impact their communities; and she wants to challenge the public relations industry to be more inclusive and promote diversity.”

For Kyra, judges called out her accomplishments as an honors student as well as the PRSSA chapter’s vice president. “Her work in PRSSA show she is also a storyteller with a passion to exceed. Her storytelling ability will help change the world. From analyzing a corporate entity practicing discrimination to her solid background in academics, she is well equipped to succeed in public relations. Her experience at Allen Hall and in the PRSSA chapter will serve her well. I was also impressed that she was able to accomplish so much and earn an honors degree. She clearly has the intelligence, academics, experience and savvy to be an excellent communicator in any field that she may choose.”

The 2020 winner of the Liz Cawood Award for Service to UO PRSSA and the Community is Amelia Bennett. Along with Kyra, Amelia has landed a coveted internship at The Hoffman Agency, based in Vancouver, Washington.  One judge noted, “Amelia developed great leadership skills through her time in the PRSSA Chapter. As an event director and the 2019-‘20 chapter president, she was able to work on easing the burdens of other students, who can’t afford membership. I was particularly impressed by her reference/recommendation who described the confusion around selecting a new staff advisor and how Amelia was able to step up to help keep the chapter going forward. It sounds like it was a great year of learning and adventure. The chapter was able to improve their visibility on campus, as well as develop a diversity and inclusion scholarship to begin next year.”

PRSA Oregon thanks the esteemed judges and congratulates Ariana, Kyra and Amelia. We can’t wait to see your stars arise!

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