Crafting a Career | Regis Today


Students practice public relations and help alumni entrepreneurs boost business
By Ashley Starr



Real-world experience gives students a chance to apply what they’ve learned, explore interests, and gain a competitive edge in the job market. These are just a few reasons why Assistant Professor of Communication Naomi Kooker incorporated a consulting component into the curriculum for her fall 2020 Introduction to Public Relations class.

Kooker welcomed two Regis alumni entrepreneurs to be the class’ clients for the semester: Iliana Ramirez ’10, CEO and co-founder of Meaningful Occasions, a nonprofit agency that provides event planning services for the underserved communities in Boston; and Mary Lou Blas ’08, owner of Mary’s Sweet Bliss Bakery in Roslindale, Massachusetts.

“The main objective was to give students the experience of working with clients in a professional setting,” explains Kooker. “And in return, the clients—the alumni—would get the benefit of the students’ ideas, perspectives, and their work. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The alumni presented their communication objectives for their businesses at the beginning of the semester. Students were asked to come up with public relations strategies and campaigns to fulfill these goals.

“Being able to work with clients from real organizations was a great opportunity and allowed me to practice what I learned in class,” says Matty Jobarteh ’21, a marketing and communications major. “I discovered the importance of understanding a company’s needs before developing a strategy to achieve their goals.” 

This was something Jobarteh and classmates had talked about in class, but being able to experience the process firsthand brought the ideas to life—and provided a platform to take creative risks and receive professional feedback. Kooker says that students came away with a sense of accomplishment and the alumni business owners are using the campaigns
to help their businesses grow. 


A Meaningful Experience

Ramirez jumped at the opportunity to work with Regis students to offer them an inside glance at entrepreneurship. Her objective for the class was to create a press kit for Meaningful Occasions that could be shared with investors, partners, and potential clients. 

I enjoyed hearing the perspectives of students … I recognize that students are an untapped fountain of innovation. Iliana ramirez ’10“The student pieces were great. I enjoyed hearing the perspectives of students who are being taught cutting-edge ideas,” says Ramirez. “I recognize that students are an untapped fountain of innovation.” Thanks to the students’ presentations, Ramirez has revamped her social media and created a YouTube page.

Looking to continue the positive collaboration, Ramirez hired Tyler-Lee St. Leger ’21 last fall as Meaningful Occasions’ first intern. 

“It was important to offer this opportunity to a Regis student,” explains Ramirez. “Regis was a second home for me, and it felt
natural to extend this opportunity to a person who is in the same place as I once was.” 

Ramirez fondly recalls her own internship as a student at Regis. “I am able today to take risks and dream big because my internships as a student gave me the environment to practice for the real world. I hope that I was able to offer the same experience to the students.” 

St. Leger, a double major in criminal justice and communication, is responsible for boosting Meaningful Occasions’ social media presence—catering toward a younger demographic—and participates in the promotion of the company’s programming. She has successfully reached more than 500 followers on the Facebook page and is working on a virtual Boston-based series, Entrepreneur Partnership Cover. 

“As an intern, I was given a lot of creative freedom, which helped build my confidence,” says St. Leger, whose career plans include working within the justice system to help underserved communities in the Greater Boston area. “I want to be in the social work field, and this experience has taught me ways to become more involved in my local community. I know I will use Iliana as a resource for the children and families I serve.” 


Finding a Sweet Spot

Blas was honored to participate in the class and hoped her story could provide inspiration to students. She graduated from Regis with a major in biology. After working in the science field for eight years, she took a leap of faith and moved into the business world.

“At Regis, I learned that if you follow others, you will always be behind them,” Blas says. “This helped me eventually thrive in creating a successful business.”mary lou blas ’08
I hope my story taught students that if you are not given an opportunity, to create one for yourself. Mary Lou Blas '08

Blas currently works as a billing agent at Constant Contact but discovered her true passion when she started her own baking company, Mary’s Sweet Bliss Bakery. She was exploring ways to grow clientele and asked students to build content for social media, blogs, and her website that would help boost her company recognition.

“Working with the students was very educational for me,” says Blas. “They offered new ideas and taught me the power of social media. Since creating an Instagram account specifically for the bakery, I’ve seen an increase in clients.” 

Blas plans to implement more of the students’ ideas and ultimately hopes to work full time on Mary’s Sweet Bliss.

“I hope my story taught students that if you are not given an opportunity, to create one for yourself,” says Blas. “I wanted them to walk away with the skills of staying persistent and being determined to achieve their goals.”


Read more articles

Read the entire magazine online