Find Your Passion: Leaving a Legacy
By Tyra Jackson
Jatensia Calhoun developed an interest in corporate public relations at a young age, but her involvement at The University of Alabama helped her transform an interest into a passion.
Calhoun, a May 2014 graduate who majored in public relations, saw a need at UA for a student organization that catered to women majoring in communication and business. So, with the help of fellow students and faculty members, the Montgomery native started the first chapter of Professional Women in Communication and Business, which prepares women for careers in those fields through networking and skills enhancement.
“I felt there was nothing on campus solely for women in both colleges,” Calhoun says. “I wanted to bridge the gap for both majors.”
The organization sponsored several events featuring professional women with a background in communication and business to provide students with an outlook of their future careers. At these meetings, students ask questions concerning their future careers and learn about jobs and internships.
The idea for Professional Women in Communication and Business, or PWCB, was a collaboration of Calhoun and co-founders India Gray and Paris Preyear. Calhoun pitched the idea to her PR instructor, Michael Little, whom she credits with making the organization possible.
“I’m in favor of any organization that assists students in becoming young professionals,” Little says. “With PWCB, these young women could leave a legacy that helps female communication and business majors for years to come. They have their work cut out for them in the short time they’re here, but I have confidence.”
Even with a team of people supporting her idea, starting PWCB wasn’t easy.
“Getting people to believe in us was hard,” Calhoun said, and the first time she pitched the idea, The Source, the campus entity providing resources and support for organizations, turned it down.
Calhoun turned to her family for support and encouragement.
“My dad was that person who wasn’t going to let me quit,” says Calhoun. “My mom was a shoulder to cry on.”
Calhoun says her father instilled the value of leadership in her. She believes it’s her duty as a leader to develop more leaders.
“My dad made me a leader,” Calhoun says. “If I wanted to do something, he was going to help me achieve my goals. I had no choice but to be a leader.”
Calhoun and PWCB have big plans for the future. She expects PWCB to expand to other in-state universities.
Dr. Regina Lewis, an associate professor of advertising and public relations department who serves as the group’s adviser, says she feels there’s no limit to where the organization – and Calhoun – can go.
“It gives me goose bumps,” Lewis says. “I believe this organization fills a unique need in terms of the bridges we can build. It’s going to really take off. The possibilities for speakers, discussions, mentoring programs and coaching materials really are endless.”
Overall, Calhoun says she’s proud of her accomplishments at UA because she has found something she loves. She encourages women to seize opportunities and take risks.
“In life you search for happiness, and I found something that I love to do,” Calhoun says. “If you can envision something, then you can make it reality.”
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Tyra Jackson is a junior journalism major in the College of Communication and Information Sciences.
This story is part of the Find Your Passion series. To learn more about how you can find your passion at The University of Alabama, please visit UA Undergraduate Admissions.