Brooks Hearn never intended to attend college at the University of South Carolina. Growing up a Gamecock, with her entire family attending USC, Hearn was determined to be a rebel and applied to several other schools.
However, when she earned a coveted spot in the South Carolina Honors College, the top-ranked public honors college in the nation, she could not resist.
Hearn, who graduated from USC in 2007 with a degree in public relations, says she was drawn to the Honors College because of the unique class offerings that focus on niche topics.
"I loved drilling down on specifics instead of taking broad overview classes," Hearn said. "The honors college gave me the opportunity to get past giant lecture halls and really dig into specifics in small classes."
Today, Hearn is the senior public relations manager at Chernoff Newman, an integrated communications agency. In this position, Hearn creates and implements public relation plans for clients while engaging the creative team to support these plans.
"I especially like how [public relations] encompasses various clients, interests and skill sets," Hearn said. "I have always enjoyed problem-solving, and I am grateful for the opportunity to apply my interests, skills and experiences for the benefit of my clients."
Hearn said she learned skills at USC that directly translate to her current work. Her favorite class from her time in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications was Mass Media Research. Before taking the class, she did not realize that public relations campaigns are entirely rooted in research.
Hearn was the project lead for the class' client, the South Carolina Aquarium, and conducted focus groups to find out what the public wanted from the aquarium and better understand people's experiences there. At the conclusion of the class, she presented the research findings to the aquarium's communications team.
"[The professor] really entrusted us with a lot of responsibility, and it truly felt like a job," Hearn says.
In addition to connecting with clients, Hearn enjoys working closely with others in the field and currently serves as the president of the South Carolina Public Relations Society of America, which she has been involved in since college. She enjoys mentoring students, encouraging them to be intentional with their actions and active in the organizations they commit to.
"Don't be too hard on yourself about your career path," said Hearn. "Everything I've done thus far is built on itself."