2017 Orange Honors | Marc Harmon

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Marc Harmon

Education is the foundation of progress. It empowers individuals to not only improve their own lives, but also the lives of others. It provides a more well-rounded view of our world and the tools necessary to create a positive impact on society. One of these transformational tools is communication. Communication has the power to effect change, influence decisions, shape opinions, and manage perceptions. Earning a degree in the communications field will certainly have a positive impact in my life, but, more importantly, it will benefit others as well. It will afford me the opportunity to assist organizations that exist to improve social and political landscapes.

With my recent acceptance into the University of Florida’s Master of Arts in Mass Communication specializing in Public Relations and Communication Management program, it is my goal to use communication as a means to create positive change by influencing values, opinions, behaviors, and beliefs. I believe the path to achieving this goal includes acquiring the fundamental knowledge and skills associated with the public relations profession. Upon graduation I plan to work with a nonprofit or non-governmental organization that addresses human rights and social injustices. I believe that an advanced degree will allow me to better serve the organization and its cause. By ethically utilizing the strategies and tactics of the public relations discipline, I believe much can be accomplished to improve quality of life, bring awareness to social injustice, and inspire societal progress.  

Non-governmental organizations like International Justice Mission work to combat human trafficking, slavery, and abuse of power. Poverty and hunger is being addressed by nonprofits such as Feed the Children, Feeding America, and World Hunger Relief, Inc. Health issues are being tackled by organizations like American Red Cross and American Cancer Society. There are numerous organizations that are helping to improve our world, and each of them need people to tell their story, raise awareness of their cause, and acquire funds to continue their mission. I believe this is where I am best suited to serve, and where my past experience and education can be put to use for a worthwhile purpose.  

While working as a journalist and public affairs practitioner in the United States Marine Corps, I observed the influence that strategic communications had on both internal and external audiences. The articles I wrote assisted in strengthening troop morale and promoting the efforts of the Marine Corps. After my service in the military, I applied what I had learned to successfully develop and market my photography business for 15 years. Recently, as a military spouse, I have been volunteering with the base public affairs office to research the surrounding community in order to create a more effective communication strategy. I have also worked with the base marketing department to assist in creating a strategic communication plan to aid in two-way communications between the department and its customers.

In May of this year, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. Since public relations is considered by many to be an applied social science, I believe that psychology is a good foundation for a career in PR. Through my studies in psychology, I have become proficient in research methods, learned psychological principles that apply to social behavior, developed skills in scientific inquiry and critical thinking, and acquired an understanding of ethical and social responsibility. Those skills will not only be valuable during my time as a graduate student, but they will also carry with me into my career and be put to use in helping others.

Higher education is not something to be taken for granted, nor is it something to be wasted merely on self-gratification. Paul Stanley said, “When you’re in a position to have gotten so much, the gift at this point is giving back.” I believe this approach to life should hold true for anyone of privilege. Those who are given exceptional opportunities are in a position to give to those who are less fortunate and to lead others to do the same. I have come to understand that the path to true happiness and fulfillment is through sacrifice and giving. Money, status, success, and education – these are all wonderful things when viewed as a means to a greater good.  However, these things by themselves, used only for selfish gain, will never satisfy. While I know that I will benefit through a degree in communications, it is only because I am able to use that education to help others that my life will truly have purpose and meaning.  

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