A Niagara College Public Relations student is generating a buzz in the industry as the recipient of a prestigious professional award.
The Canadian Public Relations Society – Hamilton chapter recently presented its Student Award of Excellence to Sophia Cole. The St. Catharines resident, who is originally from Huntsville, has recently completed her studies in the one-year graduate certificate program and will cross the stage at the College’s Spring Convocation ceremonies later this month.
“To even be nominated for this award was such an honour, so to actually win blew me away,” said Cole. “Receiving recognition of any kind is amazing, but to receive this kind of professional recognition early on in my career is so impactful.”
News of the student award was applauded throughout the College’s School of Media, augmented by the fact this was the fourth consecutive year that a Public Relations student from NC has won this award.
“We are tremendously proud of Sophia’s outstanding achievement as well as the continued success of our Public Relations program as our students are awarded for excellence,” said Vincent Van Schaik, Dean, School of Media, Trades and Technology. “This important industry recognition is a testament to the outstanding applied education our students receive during their time with us, thanks to the expertise and support of our dedicated faculty and staff.”
Cole was nominated for the award by Emily McInerney, Public Relations Program Professor and Coordinator. McInerney noted that Cole immediately demonstrated a strong commitment to the program when she began in September 2021. In addition to being a top student across her first and second term classes, she was a peer tutor for an Advanced Writing course at NC, and was involved with a CPRS Hamilton mentorship initiative.
“It is such an honour to have a Niagara College Public Relations student once again win this prestigious award. Sophia is so deserving as she entered the program with a solid work ethic, a keen desire to learn and a positive attitude,” said McInerney. “She also served as a peer tutor supporting her classmates and jumped at every (virtual) opportunity presented to network and challenge herself.”
Cole enrolled in NC’s Public Relations program to further her interest in the field while she was in university completing her Bachelor of Arts program at university.
“I had always been interested in PR but I didn’t feel that my undergraduate degree had really prepared me to enter the workforce,” she said.
While she was skeptical about online learning when she first began her studies at the College, the program exceeded her expectations in the end, thanks to support from her instructors and peers.
“It was definitely the most challenging academic experience I have ever been through, but also the most rewarding,” she said. “I left the program feeling confident and prepared to enter the workforce for the first time ever.”
Cole has begun to apply her skills with an agency at Enterprise Canada and looks forward to continued learning and growing in her career.
“I’m incredibly grateful,” she said. “It [the award] has given me the confidence to advocate for myself and know my worth professionally.”
CPRS Hamilton presented Cole with her Student Award of Excellence during its 2022 Awards Celebration held on May 31. The award is granted annually to a student from a full-time PR program who has demonstrated: a clear understanding and application of the principles of public relations theory, professionalism and leadership in personal and scholastic activities, a commitment to the future of the profession, and the ability to make contributions to the status and acceptance of the profession.
“Sophia embodies many of our CPRS Hamilton values including relationships, lifelong learning, and professional integrity,” said Linneah Tovstiga, CPRS Hamilton Secretary and Mentorship Co-Chair. “As a participant in our mentorship program, Sophia modeled leadership and professionalism through her PR insights, the support she gave her program peers, and her ability to form working relationships with members of the CPRS community.
“Together with Sophia’s academic achievements, she was a clear choice as this year’s Student Award of Excellence recipient. We sincerely congratulate her on this achievement.”
Previous NC wins
Cole’s win follows the footsteps of several Niagara College Public Relations graduates in recent years.
- In 2021, Nicolas Mertens won the national CPRS Cision Student Award of Excellence (view 2021 release here).
- In 2021, Nicholas Mertens and Rita Stranges (Niagara Falls), won the CPRS Hamilton Student Award of Excellence and Heather J. Pullen Memorial Award, respectively (view 2021 release here).
- In 2020, Ashlan MacDonald, won the CPRS 2020 Hamilton Student Award of Excellence (view 2020 release here).
- In 2019, Shianne Stephens and Katie McCabe won the CPRS 2019 Hamilton Student Award of Excellence (view 2019 release here).
Niagara College’s Public Relations program is a one-year graduate certificate. For information visit niagaracollege.ca/media/program/public-relations/.
For information about the CPRS Hamilton Special Awards visit cprshamilton.ca/special-awards.
Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit niagaracollege.ca.