The key to a successful career is having a great mentor or mentors along the way, Sheryl Sandberg argues in her most recent book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Associate Professor and Public Relations and Marketing Program Director Laura Hammel, APR, Ph.D., defines the word mentor, as she is a trusted counselor and guide on campus.
Hammel was recognized for her mentorship work this past spring. She received the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Greater Cleveland Chapter’s Davis Young Award for Exceptional Mentors 2013 at The Hill Lighthouse Young Awards in Cleveland. The award is given to a professional who exceptionally mentors students and young professionals. Since receiving the award, Hammel was approached for additional mentoring opportunities – on campus and off. “As a faculty member I mentor students in every step of their university career,” Hammel said. “I never saw myself as a mentor in a official capacity before winning the award, though.”
Hammel is one of the newest members of UCoach, an optional program that offers students a personal coach throughout their college experience at Ursuline. Coaches are faculty or staff members who help students develop a personalized success plan as well as career preparation. Hammel is mentoring two freshman students for UCoach this semester. “I have an affinity with Ursuline students,” Hammel said. “I really care about their success and want to help in any way I can. I am constantly looking for opportunities for students to start their careers right after graduation.”
Hammel surveys various Northeast Ohio public relation companies to find out what skills recent graduates are missing and then updates course curriculum to reflect employer needs. Hammel and Inge Schmidt, Associate Professor for Business, recently developed the Social Media Certificate program as well as more business course requirements for public relations majors. “For me, the power of public relations is only as good as my students who pass it along and develop it. They have to approach each public relations activity with integrity. Ethics are woven into everything that I teach.” Hammel said.
Hammel has taught public relations and marketing to Ursuline undergraduate and graduate students since 2004. She is an active PRSA member as well as the past president of the association for 1995. She was the youngest woman president to date at the time. “Hammel stands out among Greater Cleveland Chapter members due to her advocacy for students and young professionals in the classroom and beyond,” said Courtney L. Clarke, APR, Chair of the 2013 Hill, Lighthouse, Young Awards.
“In addition to revising the curriculum at Ursuline College based on business standards presented by local industry experts, Hammel exposes students to a variety of curricular and extra-curricular public relations experiences that guide and shape the way they advance in the profession far beyond the classroom.”
Hammel said that she is humbled by her award since she feels it is for something that is just part of her job. “I learn as much from students as they learn from me,” Hammel said.
“I do not know if I am really a mentor in the true sense of the role. I think what my students and I have is more of an exchange of ideas. We help each other move forward.”