“Just a small-town girl, living in a lonely world…” If my life were a movie, these famous Journey lyrics would play as the opening scene begins.
Fast-forward and I am a senior in college envisioning my future after I walk across the stage, bachelor’s degree in hand, ready to start the next chapter of my life. Sometimes, I have difficulty visualizing myself wearing business suits in the larger-than-life profession of public relations. Since I grew up surrounded by cornfields and factories where white-collar jobs were scarce, I never had a PR example to follow. However, my small-town upbringing was unique because it taught me how to build long-lasting relationships, utilize leadership opportunities, accumulate knowledge in a wide range of subjects and engage with the community.
Going to school in rural Illinois with only 27 classmates, I learned at a young age how to emotionally deal with different personalities and navigate the ups and downs of interpersonal relationships. My peers and I formed strong, emotional bonds comparable to a family. It was through these close-knit connections that I found consistent friendliness, developed a genuine curiosity about people, and realized the value of others.
The second small-town advantage I possess is a well-rounded education. Due to the small population of my high school, there was always room for interested students to join sports teams, extra-curricular clubs, and elective classes. As a result, I have valuable life experience in band, choir, art, industrial arts, speech, agriculture, scholastic bowl, etc.
In addition, I held many leadership roles in groups such as Student Council, National Honor Society and my senior class which helped me sharpen vital PR skills such as managing people, prioritizing tasks, crafting a message, collaborating as a team member, public speaking, writing, and event planning.
Lastly, my small-town roots have taught me the value of community. I realized that coordinating on a project with others gave me a network of friends and contacts I will have forever. What you invest in the people around you will be reciprocated.
In my career, I hope to replicate the small-town friendly feeling that I experienced growing up into everything I do and pass it along to everyone I work alongside.
Faith Morris is a senior public relations major with a minor in fashion merchandising and design at Eastern Illinois University. She was a part of Eastern’s PRSSA Bateman team in 2019–2020 that received an honorable mention for their U.S. Census Campaign. In addition, she is passionate about design, social media management and event planning.