With graduation just a few short weeks away, Niagara College Public Relations graduate certificate program student Brenna McCutcheon has lots to celebrate. Not only will the Newmarket native graduate at the top of her class, she is also the recent recipient of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) Notified Student Award of Excellence– a national award that recognizes student excellence in the field of PR.
According to CPRS National President, Vincent Power, the Notified Student Award of Excellence is awarded to the student who shows a clear understanding and application of the principles of PR theory, demonstrates professionalism leadership in scholastic activities and is committed to pursuing a career in PR. The student must also demonstrate an ability to contribute to the status and acceptance of the profession.
“I feel very honoured to be the recipient of this year’s CPRS Notified Student Award of Excellence,” said McCutcheon. “Before I enrolled in the PR program at Niagara College, I was struggling to identify a career path that felt like the right fit. Receiving this award reinforces to me that I made the right investment in myself and my education and I’m more confident than ever that I’ve found what I am meant to do.”
The CPRS Notified Student Award of Excellence was presented on June 6 at the 2023 CPRS National Conference in Whistler. McCutcheon accepted her award in person and thanked her professors and mentors who have supported and encouraged her throughout her journey at Niagara College.
“We’re all so delighted to hear about Brenna’s accomplishment,” said Charles Kopun, Associate Dean of Media Studies. “I’m sure it’s a great honour for her to be recognized on the national stage as a testament of her dedication and hard work.”
Nominated for the award by PR Program Coordinator Emily McInerney, McCutcheon’s work ethic, focus and high level of professionalism signaled her as a stand-out amongst a strong cohort of peers early on.
“Throughout the program Brenna consistently demonstrated a deep understanding of the concepts and underpinnings of effective communication and met every challenge with a high level of professionalism and organization,” said McInerney. “Brenna was an exceptional student and is someone who truly embodies the type of young communications practitioner that will contribute positively to our industry, and I look forward to seeing all that she accomplishes.”
After her graduation from NC on June 15, McCutcheon will return to her internship at Ridley College where she currently works as a Communications Intern. As for her long-term goals, she hopes to use the skills she has gained during her time at NC to help build a successful and fulfilling career.
“Being part of the Niagara College Public Relations program was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” she shared.
“I’m so thankful to my professors who have all played a vital role in my development. It is because of them and their dedication to student excellence that I have thrived in this program and am prepared to enter the workforce as a PR professional.”
This is the second time in the program’s history that a Niagara College PR student has been awarded the CPRS Award of Excellence – Nicolas Mertens, who is currently a Social Media Strategist at Creative Guild in Hamilton, received the award in 2021. Mertens will also take over teaching the Social Media Strategies course in the PR program this Fall.
“It’s always gratifying for us here at Niagara College to see graduating students thrive and succeed. What a wonderful start for Brenna as she leaves the classroom and embarks on her career,” said Kopun.
McCutcheon was also awarded the Senator Keith Davey Award in March 2023. This award is given to the top Niagara College PR student who acts as a mentor to their peers and who has actively cultivated and benefited from the mentorship of faculty and industry partners.
When asked if she has any advice for aspiring PR professionals, she had this to share – “Make the leap and invest in yourself. Pursue your dream and surround yourself with industry professionals that will champion you and support you just like the NC community and PR program did for me.”
Niagara College has a full-time enrolment of more than 10,000 students from over 95 countries, who study in 130 diploma, certificate and bachelor degree programs at specialized campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara College is also involved in educational projects and partnerships around the world and is consistently ranked among Canada’s top 10 colleges for research funding. Learn more at niagaracollege.ca.