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Learning through Service Leads to Awards

Learning through Service Leads to Awards

Posted: June 12, 2017

Four Buffalo State students—Maxwell Barba, Courtney McDermott, Madison Milligan, and team leader Dimitri Malliaris—were recognized by the Buffalo Niagara Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) with a Silver Excalibur award at the chapter’s annual awards dinner on June 8. As their entry to the competition, the students submitted a rebranding proposal they had developed for their community partner, the Aquarium of Niagara.

Deborah Silverman, associate professor of communication, taught the course in which the students developed the proposal. “This is a service-learning course,” she said. “The Volunteer and Service-Learning Center finds not-for-profits that are looking for ideas for marketing and public relations campaigns.” The objective of service-learning courses is to match a hands-on learning experience for students with a community organization that benefits from the students’ skills and expertise.

“The main ideas of the proposal were to increase community awareness of the aquarium and expand its reach into bigger markets,” said Malliaris. “We based our ideas on new leadership and vision at the aquarium as well as a major renovation planned for their penguin exhibit. It’s a perfect time for rebranding.”

Silverman, a national leader in PRSA, encourages her classes to become involved in the organization. Malliaris, who served as vice president for the Buffalo State student PRSA chapter, said that Silverman also encouraged students to take advantage of the student Excalibur competition, a new category this year. Devon Slobodzian, '12, now a marketing specialist at the University at Buffalo, graduated from the public communication program at Buffalo State. She was instrumental in developing the student Excalibur award.

“I felt very passionate about bringing students into the Excalibur Awards event,” said Slobodzian. “It’s a great way for students to get their names recognized for award-winning work before they even graduate.”

Malliaris hopes the award will help him and the other team members. “We stood out among other entrants,” he said, “and that can only benefit us. Attending the event with professionals in the industry gives us a chance to make connections that we hope lead to a job. I think winning gives us an added dose of confidence as we begin our careers.”

Pictured (left to right): Dimitri Malliaris, Deborah Silverman, and Courtney McDermott at the Buffalo Niagara Chapter of the PRSA's annual awards dinner, June 8.

Photo courtesy of Mark Gruber Photography.

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