The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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UNA student awarded PR student of the year


The University of North Alabama (UNA) is congratulating Aubree Poag for winning the Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA) Michael K Simmons Student of the Year award.                                                                   

“I was so honored and humbled to be the one to represent UNA,” Poag said. 

Born and raised in Sheffield AL, Poag grew up just 15 minutes from UNA’s campus. Staying close to home for college meant having undoubted support from her family and friends.

Now a senior at UNA, Poag is majoring in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations (PR). She developed a love for communications at an early age by watching her father in his role as a Care Pastor.

“Seeing my dad’s love for people and the ability to communicate with anybody made me passionate about pursuing public relations,” she said.

Yet, it is not just her love for public relations that made Aubree the ideal candidate for the award.

Poag ticked all the academic boxes when it came to the eligibility standards of the Michael K. Simmons Award. She is a full-time public relations student; she has an exceptional GPA and is an active member of the PRCA student chapter through Lion PR. Lion PR is the official student public relations organization at the University of North Alabama.

With an outstanding GPA of 3.94 and achieving the Dean’s List every semester since 2021, Poag was encouraged to apply for the award by her trusted professors Dr. Beth Garfrerick and Ms. Tosha-Paige Whitten.

Even with the encouragement from her professors, Poag was reluctant to apply for the award because of the competition she was up against. With students from bigger schools across Alabama, including The University of Alabama and Auburn University in the running, she was unsure if she had a chance of winning.

“Seeing that I won the award just completely shocked me,” Poag said. “It was crazy that the competition was like that and coming from a smaller school, it is really cool to represent UNA.” 

“We are so fortunate to have amazing PR students across Alabama who are considered for this award, and we are always excited to be able to share that one student that stands out among their peers,” Susan Poole, 2023 PRCA President, said.

Throughout college, Poag made it her goal to always do the absolute best. She is President of Lion PR, as well as a member of two different honor societies, Lambda Pi Eta and the National Society of Leadership and Success.

“It was definitely a challenge, but it was worth the hard work,” she said.

 “Aubree’s educational record speaks for itself, and the recommendations from her instructors all highlighted her accomplishments and contributions,” Poole said.

Poag’s academic achievements may have set her education work ethic apart from the other applicants, but it was her community service initiatives that featured her true character.

“My heart is for the people and my ultimate goal is to serve and pour into my community in any way that I can,” she said.

Serving on several community service projects through Faith Church in Florence, she has had the opportunity to foster societal change. She devotes her time on the holidays to things like serving Thanksgiving meals to families in need.

She also displayed honorable community service when she helped redecorate a family’s home in Muscle Shoals. She did this in support of a homecoming for a nine-year-old child who was a newly cancer-free patient.

“One of her wishes was to have a mural of Cinderella’s castle in her bedroom, and our team got to paint that for her,” Poag said.

Her leadership through academic achievements and community service is exactly the type of work that the Michael K Simmons Award wants to recognize. With this recognition, the winner also receives a $500 scholarship.

“I put the scholarship money where I needed it most this semester, towards books,” she said.

College student textbooks are typically the second biggest expense following tuition. The College Board said that students should be budgeting about $1,240 annually for books according to a 2022 Trends in College Pricing Report.

Poag wants to set an example and encourage other students to focus on school and their community. In addition to the prestige that the award brings, the scholarship money is helpful.

 “Anyone curious about applying for this award or any scholarship at UNA should do it,” she said. “Let this encourage you to apply even if you are uncertain about it, like I was. You will never know until you try.”

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