Andrew Willett originally thought he was meant for the stage. In high school, he worked with the Cleveland Play House, where he met a scenic designer who happened to be an alumnus of The Theatre School at DePaul. Although Willett eventually decided that a career in theatre wasn’t in the cards, discovering DePaul made him eager to enroll.
A career aptitude test indicated that Willett's strengths were in areas like creativity, communication, business and writing. The results suggested careers in public relations (PR), and he learned that DePaul has one of the best public relations and advertising (PRAD) programs in the country. Willett’s path was set.
"I like how DePaul is connected with the city through our alumni network and professors knowing professionals," Willett explains. "Chicago is the PR capital of the world, and we're right in the heart of it."
Willett took his first PR class with Rajul Jain, assistant professor of PRAD, during the spring quarter of his freshman year. He recalls arriving to class early one day and gazing at downtown Chicago from the classroom's floor-to-ceiling windows.
"I remember thinking, 'I love this professor, this class is great and I like PR. I'm in this beautiful classroom with this gorgeous view,'" Willett recollects. "The energy from the city radiates through DePaul's pipes and windows and into the classroom." He felt like he was where he was meant to be.
Jain later suggested that Willett join a case study course, in which Willett participated during his sophomore year. His team received an honorable mention from the Bateman Case Study Competition for their campaign on mental health awareness on college campuses.
Willett also met Jim Motzer, professional lecturer in PRAD and adviser to DePaul's chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Willett became involved with the chapter, ultimately serving as president during his junior and senior years. The organization helps students from the Midwest network and connect with PR firms and organizations in Chicago. Willett is also a regional ambassador for the Public Relations Society of America, or as he calls it, the "government of PR."
After he graduates from DePaul, Willett, an avid traveler and frequent flyer, eventually wants to lead all branding and communication for an airline. In the meantime he plans to move to New York and make his mark in airline PR.
"I'm going to be the PR queen of New York."
Originally published in Conversations (Fall 2018 issue).