Department of Communications Receives Diversity Award for 2014
Stephanie Montgomery Receives Eleanor Gaunder Phi Kappa Phi Excellence in Teaching Award
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ― Confucius
Stephanie Montgomery definitely loves her job. She also believes that obstacles are going to arise, but seemingly insurmountable odds are possible to beat. Throughout her educational pursuit she discovered persistence in her fight against those who wanted her to fail, strength through positive role models who desired to see her succeed, and determination through the unconditional love of her children who inspired her to keep going when life got rough. This all culminated in the most rewarding job she has ever had, teaching. “I didn’t choose to teach because it was my career goal. As a single mother of three, I needed the income. I am an introvert and incredibly shy. I’ll never forget the first day and the first class I taught. I wore a suit, it was an uncomfortable suit; it felt like it was choking me at every seam. I was scared to death, which only made it that much more uncomfortable. But it was probably just my nerves. Funny thing is I was so nervous I forgot to turn the lights on. We went over the syllabus in an extremely dark room. I laugh about that now.” She knows that anxiety can often be a huge inhibiting factor for students. But, the ability to speak well and with confidence makes a huge difference in an individual’s career, regardless of the field one is in. “I know that in every student there is an amazing speaker; some are imprisoned by the walls of anxiety.” She believes that everyone faces obstacles that distract from personal goals and dreams. Some are anxiety, some are true monsters, and sometimes they are just life circumstances. It is easy to forget about goals for a while, but it is important to come back to them and when necessary, power through the roadblocks.
Stephanie has been on campus at the University of North Alabama for over twenty years. She moved to Alabama to work on her baccalaureate in 1993 and graduated from UNA in 1996 as a double major in Communications and Psychology. After graduation she began working toward her masters in counseling, but after going through a series of personal trials, and a desire to teach speech, she commuted to Tuscaloosa for her masters in Communication Studies at the University of Alabama. “I did it one class at a time. Many days began at 4:00am and ended after 10:00pm.” She finished her masters in 2005 and landed a full time position at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.“I really enjoyed my time there, but when the job came open at UNA, I was ready to come home.” As a second year PhD student at the University of Memphis, she is commuting once again. This time, she has the love and support of an even larger family, five children and eleven grandchildren. Her husband travels to Memphis with her when he can to ease the burden of the long drive. He is undeniably her best friend.
She knows that behind a good teacher are fabulous students. She is genuinely concerned about and cares for students. “I am deeply committed to the student body at UNA; they are a priority to me. We have the best - they are incredibly enjoyable, intelligent, likeable and pleasant to be around. Plus they make me laugh and even sometimes cry (not in a bad way though). I never would have imagined being honored with such a huge award for something I love so much. I am so thankful and so appreciative.”
UNA Student Wins Michael K. Simmons Memorial Scholarship!
HUNTSVILLE, Ala.—Marcey Anne Sykes, a senior public relations major at the University of North Alabama, is the 2014 recipient of the North Alabama Chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama’s Michael K. Simmons Memorial Scholarship. She will be honored at the May 21 luncheon meeting of NAPRCA, held at Redstone Federal Credit Union.
The award is $2,000 toward the recipient’s tuition and fees for the Fall 2014 or Spring 2015 terms. The scholarship is open to students majoring in public relations or public relations-related fields of study such as public communications, marketing, mass communications, or journalism. Students must be enrolled in a university located in north Alabama and have completed at least one semester of coursework to be eligible for the scholarship. The award selection is based on grade point average, extracurricular activities, a faculty recommendation and an essay. At UNA, Sykes is a member of the varsity tennis team, National Leadership Society, Phi Kappa Phi academic honorary, and UNA PRIDE (Public Relations Individuals Dedicated to Excellence), which is the university’s student public relations organization. She is also a freelance photographer/videographer and has a 3.95 GPA. Sykes is from Iuka, Miss., and was a a student and member of the tennis team at Northeast Mississippi Community College before transferring to UNA. The North Alabama Chapter of PRCA established the Michael K. Simmons Memorial Scholarship Program in 1974, with the purpose of encouraging students to explore the public relations profession and to introduce them to PRCA and the important role a professional organization can play in the early stages of their career. Funds for the scholarship are raised from individual member donations, professional development events and workshops. The Public Relations Council of Alabama seeks to promote the development of public relations practitioners through continuing education and increased awareness about the profession. For more information about NAPRCA, please visit http://naprca.org/.
Marcey Anne Sykes, far right in the group photo above, is the winner of the 2014 Michael A. Simmons Scholarship, sponsored by the North Alabama Chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama. She is pictured here with UNA PR professor Dr. Beth Garfrerick and other PR majors Skyler Mansell, Kris Lard and Nikki Messer at an April 22 Southeast Regional PRSA conference at David Lipscomb University in Nashville.