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U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman was one of two award recipients. U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman was one of two award recipients.

Alums Honored for Exemplary Public Affairs Work

Two recent JMS alums received awards for their professional achievements.
By SDSU News Team

San Diego State University’s School of Journalism & Media Studies recently announced the first-ever recipients of the SDSU-JMS Junior Public Affairs Alumni Award.

The inaugural awards honored U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman and U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Staci Reidinger, both master’s program alumnae from the class of 2013.

“Our School is proud to commemorate one decade of offering our rigorous military public affairs graduate program to active-duty officers by inaugurating our Junior Public Affairs Alumni Award," said Bey-Ling Sha, director of the School.

"This award recognizes those rising-star alumni who truly fused their academic understanding of public affairs with their fleet practice. Both Lt. Cmdr. Schwegman and Maj. Reidinger stood out from an already-strong field for how they meticulously applied the strategic public relations campaign process and informed their work through theory,” she continued.

Among their accomplishments, Reidinger and Schwegman obtained their national accreditation in public relations and military communication while at SDSU. They also presented scholarly research at public relations and mass communication academic conferences.

Providing a path to success

Reflecting on her SDSU experience, Reidinger noted, “From the individual care and support provided by SDSU's top-notch professors to the expansion of my understanding about how mass media influences society, this master's in mass communication  truly heightened my ability to develop, execute and evaluate communication strategies in support of Marine Corps objectives.”

Schwegman echoed Reidinger’s sentiment, adding, “This program taught me how to think about public relations from several different perspectives and, most importantly, it taught me the value of doing research prior to me taking action.”

Hearing both Schwegman and Reidinger credit SDSU in part with their career success, JMS military public affairs master’s program coordinator Kaye Sweetser considered what makes the program special.

“SDSU has a proven track record of helping already-strong PAOs become even better leaders in their professional communities,” said Sweetser, who herself is a Navy Reserve PAO. “With 30 percent of today’s active-duty Navy captains in public affairs being SDSU alumni, we see the real difference that a strong, academic program can make in bringing the military’s best PAOs to the next level in their strategic practice.”

Schwegman was presented her award during a JMS alumni reception on Oct. 22 in Washington, D.C., amidst her colleagues and other alumni. David Dozier, founder of the military public affairs officer program at SDSU, presented her with the award.

Reidinger will be presented her award during an alumni reception in San Diego on Feb. 18, 2016.

About the award

In fall 2015, senior public affairs alumni nominated junior alumni for the SDSU-JMS Junior Public Affairs Alumni Award. A panel of three judges — a civilian-sector public relations executive, a senior PAO officer and a JMS professor — independently evaluated the nominations, looking for markers of excellence across nominees’ academic and fleet performance.

Nominees were scored through the judges’ assessment of professional achievements such as winning national-level military or civilian awards, presenting or publishing academic research, and being accredited in public relations, the world’s largest professional certification program for public relations practitioners.