Student Orgs

Learn More about HuskyTHON with the VP of Communications

HuskyTHON is an organization that focused on the year-long effort to raise funds and awareness for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Each February, the fundraising efforts come together for an 18-hour dance marathon. Thousands of UConn students gather to dance for those children that cannot. This year will be UConn’s 20th annual event For The Kids.

Nicole Schwartz is on the HuskyTHON Management team as the acting Vice President of Communications. The VP of Communications has various responsibilities, but overall, she manages the public relations for the organization and event year round. From PR campaigns, working with news organizations, writing press releases, to collaborating with the rest of the members on the HuskyTHON management team, Nicole ensures that the brand name and the overall goal to Raise Them Up is known statewide.

As the 18-hour dance marathon approaches, I decided to interview Nicole to gain more insight on the hard work that has gone into the event and amazing cause as a whole:

Q: It seems like you have a lot of different responsibilities, out of those, which do you enjoy the most? Which one do you think works the best in getting the word out about HuskyTHON?


Nicole: Management has been so life-changing…it brings you to so many people on this campus and not just the 27 person team. The morale captions get to interact with numerous people and see all of the good that our community does for this cause. I also love asking people their ‘why’; why they dance, why they participate. It means different things to people and I love hearing their answers and am able to participate in the change.

So, two different things work really well. One of the best things about VP Communications is that you get to work with every single person on the management team and everyone has a different responsibility. I think we have really communicated on social media and our website about what it takes and how we all together can make a difference. On a more personal level, I have really enjoyed talking to news organizations and learning how to write a press release. With communicating with the news organizations, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity which has pushed me out of my comfort zone, without advocating for HuskyTHON and CCMC. I am also so thankful I have been able to do on air interviews about how passionate I am, and the 3,000 people that participate, are about this organization. What’s great about it, is I get to share with the entire state of Connecticut and beyond how much this means to the UConn community.


Q: What has your process been like leading up to HuskyTHON, especially to stay organized?


Nicole: The biggest thing is relying and trusting my teammates because everyone was chosen for this role for a reason. Another organization trick I use is I keep a to-do list where I map out what is pressing for that day or week. I also go through my email consistently. Management has a 24/7 rule where we make sure no email goes unnoticed for 24 hours to ensure nothing gets missed. Especially in my role, I am communicating with a lot of people externally from a media list that has been put together. In these circumstances, Google Docs and Google Sheets are super helpful. I really try to hold my self-accountable for what I need to accomplish.


Q: What made you want to get involved in such a great cause like HuskyTHON?


Nicole: I actually went to the University of Maryland and I participated in their TerpTHON. At that point, I didn’t have a choice in participating because my sister’s friend went there. After that, I went on to be part of the Executive Board and joined the Advertising Committee, and it truly changed my life for the better. Sophomore year, I transferred here to UConn and I knew what HuskyTHON was. I immediately applied to be a morale caption because I wanted to be all in from the start. In February 2016, I walked out of the Field House for the better. I saw the passion on student’s faces and smiles on parents’ faces. People say this day is better than Christmas and it could not be more true. The parents get to see the children happy and act/feel like normal kids. It is truly inspiring that a group of college kids make such a great change and impact on the community. I am so thankful for my sister’s friend who brought dance marathon into my life.


Q: By making HuskyTHON not just an event but an organization and a year long process, do you think that helps with the PR for the cause?


Nicole: I love that you brought that up. A lot of people believe that it is just and 18-hour dance marathon, and that could not be more false. The person who raises $1 and the person that raises $1000 matter just as much. If the $1 person didn’t contribute, then we would be $1 less than what would could’ve been. We raise $1 at a time, we don’t have any sponsors. We are a group of college students coming together to support a cause. We like to say it is an inclusive community where everyone can do good. The kids never stop fighting, so we will never stop fighting. As long as there is childhood illness, we will never stop fighting. We are trying to make a million miracle, $1 and one smile at a time.


Q: What is one thing you have learned from holding this position for this amazing organization?


Nicole: I always say that there is so much good if you look in the right places in the world; the good is right here in the University of Connecticut. People are amazing and it’s true when you see them going above and beyond. It comes down to the dancers, and if they aren’t as committed as the management, then our cause wouldn’t be as successful. Each person matters. My favorite thing is how united people are and how willing they are to push their limits.


Q: What specific PR techniques do you use to promote HuskyTHON? And on what platforms?


Nicole: Basically, last year our goal was to raise 1 million dollars. This year we wanted to let our dancers know that yes, the money is important, but it comes down to the children we are supporting. In order to emphasize that, we created the phrase ‘Raise Them Up’. This slogan helps promote the idea that instead of a monetary goal, we are striving to raise up the hospital staff, children, and families. We are raising up the expectations of what is possible while also raising up people’s attitudes. It is a major technique that truly shifts away from the monetary aspect to put the most important goal at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Along the lines of different platforms and other specific techniques, we tried a lot of different things this year. We made a video in October that was able to capture all the little moments leading up to HuskyTHON while showing the event as well. This year, we also created balloons with everyone’s ‘why’ on them to create buzz as well as stick to the theme of ‘raising them up’. Another thing we did with students’ ‘why’s’ was when they share their social media posts about HuskyTHON, we asked them to share their why along with it. It definitely captures people’s attention as well as make it more personal. On a smaller note we painted the rock for HuskyTHON, put banners on buses, and put graphics in the dining halls for more awareness.


For more information about HuskyTHON:

My Experience With The Comm Society

By: Sowon Chung ’20

I joined the Communication Society in my sophomore year. Joining Comm Society, I thought, would allow me to meet people while also pursuing my goal of business development within the Communication major. I did not know many people studying Communication because all my friends were in different majors.


What I found that I valued most, however was the diversity of interests in my fellow majors. Communication students have different interests and many of them have interesting double majors or minors; so, I not only meet people with the same major, but also people with variety of interests. During my first year with Comm Society, I was part of the newsletter committee, which was very meaningful way to get to know my major because I got to write about the Communication department’s news and events. I enjoyed it so much that I became the newsletter chair!


The Communicator. In the newsletter chair position, I oversee the Newsletter Committee that produces the Department’s newsletter, The Communicator. This newsletter highlights stories about the growth of the Communication program and the most recent accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff. We interview new professors, Martin Horn Scholarship winners, and other exciting personalities. Last year, we had a big shift as our newsletter switched from a PDF format to Mailchimp, making the Newsletter easier to access and tech-friendly. This year, the Newsletter committee will be teaming up with the PR class. Upcoming in the spring semester, we will begin putting together this year’s newsletter, so any students interested can contact the COMM Society and contribute to the Newsletter! (To view previous issues, check out The Communicator website:


Public Speaking Competition. Interested in showing off your public speaking skills?  Another meaningful and fun event the Comm Society organizes is the public speaking competition. This year will be the 6th annual competition. Last year, I was really fascinated by the different students from different majors showing off their public speaking skills. The competition also brings together judges from different fields of Communication: last year, the judges included Interpersonal Communication Professor (and Director of Graduate Studies) Amanda Denes, WFSB-TV Reporter & Anchor Caitlin Nuclo, and NBC Connecticut Political Reporter Maz Reiss.


Leadership in Comm Society. As an executive board member, I help plan and lead meetings every week. We try to have different types of events every week, such as sharing our experiences of internships, advice about COMM classes, going to communication department’s events, and bringing guest speakers. So far, we have had guest speakers–job recruiters, professors, and graduate students talking to us about graduate programs. Some of the members actually got internships through the Communication society, which is great! And we’re not ALL business; we also have fun activities like bowling, trips to Boston or New York, and ice skating!


Overall, I really enjoy being part of Comm Society. I’ve met some great people, followed through on my business development goals, and learned more about Communication in general.   The Communication Society provides a variety of opportunities and experiences for students who are interested in the field of communication. Through networking opportunities, event planning experience, peer-to-peer advising, and other activities, students get the chance to learn more about the field of Communication itself than they could simply by attending classes. Check us out by attending one of our meetings. We have opportunities for everyone! Our meeting days this Spring are Mondays at 6:00 PM in Monteith 320.


If you have any questions, email us at


Finding the Perfect Balance of Clubs

By: Rachel Philipson

With over 600 student clubs at UConn, how on Earth do you find the perfect one for you?  Do you only have to pick one?


When I came to Storrs as a Freshman, I was completely intimidated by the Involvement Fair, the annual event held on Fairfield Way that brings together all of UConn’s student groups and organizations. I did some research beforehand and knew that I was looking out for clubs that would not only boost my resume, but be fun. College is supposed to be the best four years of your life, right? Joining a club is one way to make the most of your time at UConn.


So, I’m obviously not going to tell you about all the clubs that are out there—but a little about the ones that I did eventually join. I hope this helps you find the right ones for you.


The Daily Campus

I am a journalism major so I knew I wanted to do something related to my major. I write for my local paper back home so I knew something writing based would be good for me. I remember going into the fair and signing up for the Opinion section, but I wanted something that would challenge me more, so instead I decided to write for the News section.


I have been with the News section ever since and I love it. I face new challenges every week. I have dealt with sensitive stories, time-crunchers, and light, happy pieces. I feel my writing gets better with every story I write. By the time I graduate, I will have a great deal of writing experience and build that ever-important portfolio.


What I learned: There are clubs out there that can connect you more deeply to your major. And it’s OK to change your mind, if you find that what you initially signed up for isn’t the right fit.


UConn Tap Club

I have danced since I was three years old. I’ve done tap, jazz, ballet, and pointe, but tap has always been my favorite. I wanted to join a dance club that wasn’t stressful and I wanted to continue doing something I already knew I loved.


During my freshman year, Tap Club allowed me to be a part of some very cool experiences like dancing at HuskyTHON, creating my own dance, and attending a master tap club in NYC.

This year, I am on EBoard and I love the challenge of planning events and trying to help people become friends with one another.


What I learned: Do something you love, and as a bonus, give back to the club by assuming a leadership role.  You’ll be surprised at the leadership skills you’ll develop, and how much fun it will be.


Alpha Lambda Delta

After my first semester, I got an email inviting me to join the First-Year honor society. In high school I was in National Honor Society, so I was beyond excited to join.  Not only does the society seem very professional, but they also hold fun events. This year, I was a part of Pumpkinfest and found myself selling pumpkins and cactus on Fairfield way—something I wouldn’t have predicted I’d be doing as an Alpha Lambda Delta member.


What I learned: If you get invited into a cool organization, say yes. Because you never know the unexpected places it could lead you!


UConn Ballroom Team

At the start of my sophomore year, I decided to join Ballroom Team with my friend from back home. We had danced at the same dance studio for 14 years but we were never dance partners. It was a perfect mix of new and old. It was also an excuse to do something with him since we have very different majors and I’d rarely see him otherwise.  I think we’ve become closer friends because of our team experience.


Ballroom dancing is very different from tap dancing, but I love the new opportunities. It is nice to have an actual dance class again and to see myself improving. I have the opportunity to compete, and although I haven’t done it this semester, I can’t wait.


What I learned: Don’t be afraid to join something new, even after your first year.  Sometimes, a new club could be that opportunity to make new friends—or to reconnect with old ones.


Communication Society Networking Opportunities

Post written by Carina Zamudio, Communication Society Member

On October 25, the University of Connecticut Communication Society attended an exclusive networking opportunity with Gaffney Bennett, a public relations firm in New Britain, Connecticut. Gaffney Bennett Public Relations (GBPR) focuses on strategic communications services to over 84 clients including Connecticare, Eversource Energy, and NBC Universal. Their mission is to “help clients tell their stories” through detailed communication campaigns that will reach the client’s target audience. This is done by working with clients on improving media relations, crisis communications and management, market entry campaigns, video content creation, issue management, and social media platforms.

The event was a business casual luncheon in which Comm Society students were able to get a behind-the-scenes look at how public relations firms function. After the Comm Society students were seated, five staff member representatives spoke about their post graduate experiences that brought them to the positions they hold today. The visiting members of GBPR highlighted that all of their different career paths were attainable under the umbrella of a communications degree. Each person’s experience gave the students a glimpse into what working in public relations can offer from internship, event planning, journalism, agency, and corporate lenses.

With nine years of experience in the field of public relations, Justin May, the Vice President of GBPR, led most of the discussion. As a graduate from the University of Connecticut, May uses his writing skills to market his communications campaigns to the wide range of clients that GBPR acquires. Other employees of GBPR informed the Comm Society about their positions, and how their careers have led them to have different experiences as PR professionals. All of these diverse backgrounds gave Comm Society members a chance to see the different roles an employee in public relations can have.  

After learning about some of the GBPR staff, each member of Communications Society had the opportunity to discuss their experiences with communications and their future aspirations in the field. This was followed by a Q&A panel in which students could ask questions about GBPR or public relations as a whole. Before leaving GBPR the students and staff were able to exchange brief dialogue and express thanks for the interest and opportunity to network.

Networking is important, not only for internships and jobs, but also for gaining valuable insight towards what others in the field have experienced. For Comm Society, being able to visit a public relations firm provided them with exposure to the real world that is unparalleled in the classroom. Not only were they able to gain some insight on what a public relations firm does, but they were able to make connections along the way. Communications Society extends its thanks to Gaffney Bennett Public Relations for opening its doors to eager students hoping to influence the field in the near future.

For more information about the UConn Communication Society, visit their website or email

COMM Society Field Trip

Last mocomm-tripnth, the Communication Society took a trip to New York City to attend a live taping of The Harry Show. Award-winning actor and singer Harry Connick Jr., who is best known for his roles in the films Independence Day, Hope Floats, and P.S. I love you is the host of the show.

Connick Jr. began the show with an interview with actress Lily Collins, promoting her new film Rules Don’t Apply where she spoke about her role in the film, as well as what it is like to be the daughter of famous singer Phil Collins.

The next guest was Ta’Rhonda Jones, who plays Porsha in the hit television series Empire. Jones discussed her role on the show and told the audience about her overnight transition from a normal girl working at a nursing home to a celebrity, as her role in Empire was her first professional acting job.

The show ended with an amazing performance by some of the cast of Cirque de Soleil. The audience marveled at the incredible balance and flexibility of the performers.

During the breaks in the show, Harry Connick Jr. sang to, danced with, and invited the audience members to ask him questions.

Following the taping, an employee from NBC spoke to the Communication Society about working in the television industry. She talked about her background in the industry and her incredible internship on The Late Show with David Letterman. The woman explained that her internship experience was extremely helpful in guiding her towards what direction she wanted to go in with her career. She said that although she had almost no free time due to balancing her internship and her classes, she had no regrets because she was so passionate and excited about the work that she was doing. She emphasized that getting real world experience in the television industry through her internship was extremely important in helping her to land a job and become successful after graduation. The woman advised the group about the importance of getting any kind of internship experience during college and insisted that the best interns are those who work hard, want to learn new things, and do not treat any task as too small. She continued by speaking about the other roles that she has had throughout her career, and informed the group about how most young people entering the television industry will not stay in the same position or with the same company for their entire career, and that it is okay to move around and work in different roles. Hearing from someone with a lot of experience in the television industry was both an informational and motivational experience.

Overall, this trip was both a fun and educational one for the members of the Communication Society. Having an inside look and seeing how material from courses at UConn are applied in the television industry was a great learning experience for the group.


By Julie Pyrcz, COMM Society PR Chair