Student Spotlight: Alexandra Rachelle Siclait G'14
Student Spotlight Series
Alexandra Rachelle Siclait G’14 has no time to slow down. To say she has a packed schedule would be a gross misrepresentation of her workload. The graduate student, originally from Haiti by way of Miami is studying public diplomacy, a dual degree program in which she’ll earn a master’s in both public relations and international relations. On top of that, Alexandra is also pursuing two certificate programs; one in conflict resolution and the other in arts leadership.
The Janklow Program’s Certificate of Advanced Study in Arts Leadership, housed in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences is designed for students that are currently pursuing other advanced degrees or for those students looking to enhance their cultural leadership. Splitting her time between The College of Arts and Sciences, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs keeps her busy but Alexandra says she wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks to her diverse educational background and her passion to succeed, Alexandra just landed a dream gig as one of Deveney Communication’s Summer Scholars.
We are pleased to feature Alexandra in our special “Student Spotlight” series.
1. Where are you from?
Haiti. I was born in Miami and raised in Haiti.
2. Tell us a little bit about life before SU?
Prior to my graduate studies, I served as a Senior Legal Assistant at Arnold & Porter, LLP, in Washington, DC, where I implemented logistics for global anti-corruption training for Latin American markets. I also spent a couple of years at the Christ Child Society, a nonprofit organization, managing its Layette, Uniform and Camp programs.
3. What’s your major?
I am studying Public Diplomacy. It is a dual degree program so I am earning two masters: Public Relations and International Relations. I decided that was not enough (sigh) so I tacked on two certificates: Arts Leadership and Conflict Resolution. It’s been a long journey and well worth it.
4. Why did you choose the Janklow Program at SU?
As a current IR and PR graduate student, I quickly realized I found my passion between the intersection of international relations and public relations. This junction is what I call cultural diplomacy. With an interest in cultural diplomacy, pursuing the Janklow Arts Leadership and Conflict Resolution certificates was a strategic decision for my career and interests.
I strongly believe the Arts Leadership program will serve to strengthen my passion and help me foster economic development and benign nationalism around arts and cultural activities. I hope to drive innovative and effective metrics that meaningfully measure how the arts empower communities.
After talking with Mark Nerenhausen, the founding director of Janklow and a Professor of Practice, about the program and my career aspirations, he, without a doubt, solidified my decision to apply. He did not know it at the time, but I wanted him as my mentor, right then and there. Nerenhausen is exuberant and provides a fresh and exciting vantage point for an aspiring cultural diplomat. He is definitely a professor I want to lead and mentor me in this industry.
5. What’s the best way to spend free time as a SU student?
I would say the best way to spend free time in Syracuse is to attend the wonderful shows at Syracuse Stage. I interned at both the Community Folk Art Center (CFAC) and Light Work and both institutions have really great programs throughout the year. My advice to students and visitors to the campus: Attend them! Since I was in Syracuse for two summers, I enjoyed the countless festivals around the city in the summer. Definitely make use of the parks nearby. I love watching the sunset at Higher Onondaga Park in the Strathmore neighborhood. Thanks to my wonderful public diplomacy classmates, I was gently pressured into joining them in the Adirondacks for a few days. I’m glad I did; it was wonderful. It is a must and I recommend you visit at least one vineyard in the Fingers Lakes while here. If that’s too far, I suggest going to Anyela’s Vineyards in Skaneateles. I love to meet people, so I took the time to meet locals by joining a local fitness club – Towne Center Fitness Studio – and a mobile fitness company – H2Fitness. After two years, I can truly say my free time has been well spent.
6. In what extracurricular activities are you currently participating?
I have slowed down a bit. My schedule was getting a bit hectic. For a time, I was tutoring for the Syracuse University Program for Refugee Assistance (SUPRA), attending Bootcamp and indoor studio cycling classes, and serving as a member of the Syracuse University’s Public Diplomacy Scholars. I’ve since scaled back quite a bit, though I continue to keep up with exercising.
7. What do you hope to do after completing your studies?
I would love to travel before committing to a 9-5. I worked for eight years before pursuing my graduate studies so I know the commitment a 9-5 entails. Once I’m done with traveling, I would love to work for a cultural affairs bureau, a public relations firm promoting cultural tourism or working for an art organization like the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York or the Luminato Festival in Toronto. I would be happy with any one of those opportunities, especially if I could scout the world looking for amazing talent to showcase.
8. What are some of the activities you like around CNY that aren’t SU affiliated?
Definitely my favorite activities involve spending time at the CNY summer festivals and vineyard tours, participating in the local fitness clubs, and attending the great shows and exhibits that both CFAC and Light Work have to offer (I know it’s SU affiliated). I cannot forget to mention the great local restaurants in the area too. I lived in DC before moving to Syracuse and we are serious about our food in DC. I’ve enjoyed discovering the local restaurants here. You must go to Laci’s Tapas Bar, Bitter Sweet, Pascale Wine and Bar, Francesca’s Cucina, and Gentile’s to name a few.
9. Tell us a bit about your internship.
I am pretty excited about my internship this summer. I am interning at Deveney Communication, a boutique public relations firm in New Orleans. NOLA! It is the coolest place. I could not have imagined it any other way. I truly feel that I am in the Caribbean when I am there; it will be home away from home.
Applying to the internship was intense and took a lot of hard work. I basically spent the majority of spring break preparing a case study assignment for the application process. I had a client challenge for The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau (NOCVB). The Bureau is interested in promoting New Orleans as a travel destination through public relations and digital marketing to travelers in the 18-34 age demographic. I was tasked with creating the communication plan to meet the client challenge. This is the kind of work Newhouse will assign to graduate students for a whole semester. I had to complete this during a week of free time. Spring break was that time. I am glad it paid off.
10. What will your role be at Deveney Communication? What are you most looking forward to learning?
I am going to be Deveney Communication’s Summer Scholar this year. I really love the fact that I will get my start at a boutique firm. I think I will learn so much more than if I were at a larger firm. The Deveney Communication’s Summer Scholar Program is a unique full-time position offered to a chosen individual each summer semester. Participants hone integrated marketing skills, alongside award-winning professionals, at one of the top five boutique public relations firms in the nation. I will sharpen my communication skills, complete various communication projects and network for future opportunities. The Summer Scholar is awarded a competitive stipend, housing assistance and transportation to and from New Orleans. You cannot beat that!
Everything! I will get first-hand experience working in an agency. That, in and of itself, will be a great opportunity. Mr. Deveney, the president, created the strategy and led the incredible team that managed the State Tourism’s response to the BP Oil Spill. Mr. Deveney accepted the Milestones in Mentoring Award for Best Mentor from an Agency by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. Since, he exemplifies his dedication to mentoring through Deveney’s Associate Program. Having the opportunity to be mentored by Mr. Deveney will be invaluable to me for years to come.
PR News recently named Deveney Communication the 2013 Firm of the Year (Small). The firm has also repeatedly been named among the Best Places to Work in New Orleans by New Orleans City Business, the area’s business publication, including being ranked among the Top Three Small Businesses in the city for 2012.
So I would say, if I were going to start off doing anything in PR, start where people are happy and effective!