For two University of Richmond students, the path to a career in public relations is now paved with a financial boost -- in the form of $1,000 scholarships from the Richmond Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Ali Eaves, a junior majoring in journalism with minors in business administration and studio art and Hillary White, a senior double majoring in rhetoric and communications studies and leadership studies, each had to submit a resume, cover letter and essay about why they want to work in public relations in order to apply for the scholarship.

“The Foundation received 17 applications for our two scholarships this year, which is an all-time record for submissions,” said Jennifer Y. Scott, APR, chairman of the Richmond Public Relations Foundation and a past president of PRSA Richmond. “Judges on the Foundation board were very impressed with the quality of the submissions. It was a tough decision and speaks well for the excellent public relations programs at colleges and universities around Virginia.”

White decided to pursue a career in public relations after completing a two-week entrepreneurship program in high school that allowed her to work on a marketing plan. Since arriving at Richmond, she’s been able to hone her skills through internships in the field.

“I’m most interested in working for a public relations firm, however recently I’ve become interested in non-profit agencies,” said White, who serves as the vice president for public relations for the Jepson Student Government Association. “Being recognized by PRSA has encouraged me and shown me that I have the skills needed to pursue a career in public relations.”

Eaves said she shares White’s feeling that the recognition from PRSA will add to her confidence as she continues working toward a career in the field. Eaves was also able to see first-hand how important it is to start building a professional network before graduation.

“The most helpful thing was being invited to the luncheon where I could meet public relations professionals and learn about the different things you can do in the field,” said Eaves, who found out about the scholarship opportunity through the Career Development Center’s public relations industry e-mail distribution list. “It was incredibly beneficial to meet so many people who were eager to lend advice and offer help in my career pursuits.”

Recognizing the students’ accomplishments, PRSA Richmond President and former scholarship winner, Alissa Poole, ’94, noted that the scholarships provide students with the opportunity to continue their study of public relations.

“The awards will pay dividends and impact these students’ lives as they pursue their dream to work in the public relations field,” said Poole.

Scholarship applications were solicited from students currently attending Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, the University of Richmond, Longwood University and Randolph Macon College who plan to pursue a career in public relations.

The Richmond Public Relations Foundation was created in 1999 with the purpose of enhancing the field of public relations as a profession in Central Virginia. The Foundation annually administers the David P. Hurdle and William M. Dietrick Memorial Scholarships, which are $1,000 scholarships in each of the former members’ names to two rising juniors or seniors.