Students to host lymphoma education event for contest

A group of strategic communication students will host a drive-thru event 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday, outside the liberal arts building, to promote awareness about the effects of lymphoma. 

“I think that it’s really fun that we have a lot of creative freedom, and can figure out ways to promote this and get people more informed about what lymphoma is,” said student Cami Audas. 

The students are a part of a campaign class on campus that competes in a public relations contest, the Bateman Case Study Competition. This year, the Lymphoma Research Foundation was announced as the client for the competition. 

“Their goal for us this year was to promote awareness to adolescents and young adults, since they are typically an audience that isn’t aware of the fact that it could be them being diagnosed with lymphoma,” student Suzeth Gallegos said. “Our whole campaign is centered around promoting awareness and informing them.”

The drive-thru event will have “goodie bags” and educational resources for students and faculty to learn about this type of cancer. While doing research on the project, some of the students involved said they discovered unexpected information about the potential risks of lymphoma. 

“The ideas that people hold toward cancer is they consider it for people who are weaker, for lack of better words. They think older people or very young people are the ones that are getting cancer, but with lymphoma, the group that is dealing with most are people just like us,” student Madison Jones said. 

As many of the students are now upperclassmen, the courses they have taken in the past have helped prepare them for this project. They have written press releases and made social media posts in anticipation for the event. 

“Everything we’ve done up until this point we’ve already learned,” student Haylee Hildebrand said. “So we’re using what we’ve learned the past three or four years, and it’s just all coming together in our minds.” 

Having the experience of going out in the field and doing this project has been inspiring, student Abigail Heinz said. 

“I think it’s great because we’ve been able to do all these things separately in classes where you’re analyzing audiences and you’re trying to build posts that will maybe get some higher engagement— and you do all those things separately,” Heinz said. “But whenever you’re finally able to do it together, it kind of helps you see the big picture.” 

When Heinz started at UCO, she said she was not sure if she truly wanted to go into public relations, but being hands-on has made her realize the actual work taking place.

“This project kind of helped me put it all together and realize, ‘OK, so this is why we’re doing all this.’ This is what it’s going to look like whenever it’s all done, and we’re going to be able to actually complete something from start to finish,” Heinz said. “I think it’s validated why I want to be here.”

Still, there are obstacles with any P.R project. Student Savonte Pickens said the lasting effects of COVID have required the students to be flexible. 

“I will say the thing that’s most challenging with the project is right now we’re in a pandemic, so sometimes we meet as a group, sometimes we’re all at home, working together through Zoom or FaceTime. But I have a very strong group, and they make everything work out,” Pickens said.

Ultimately, this project with the Lymphoma Research Foundation has made a mark on the students, and highlighted the importance of what they do, Gallegos said. 

“I think PR is very important and people don’t realize it, and I think it’s still a very unrelated field. Yes, it’s a career, but it’s also a career that helps social change and makes a difference if you’re doing it passionately,” she said.

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