As a part of Onward State’s commitment to help establish more immediate access to THON to the Penn State community, of which it is such a huge part, I have conducted a series of interviews with the each of the 2011-2012 overalls. These are the students who have taken the initiative to lead this organization, so may we all take a moment to learn from their words, and help implement their ideas into our continued fight against pediatric cancer.
Onward State: Summarize some of the responsibilities of the Public Relations Committee, and then the role you play as the Overall within those responsibilities.
Kirsten Quisenberry: Public Relations serves as the voice of THON to those within, and outside of the Penn State community. It is our job to continue to garner support and raise awareness of pediatric cancer through traditional forms of media, as well as social media, and just let everyone what these students are doing to make a difference.
As the overall, my job is basically the same thing. I work directly with the media and help manage my committee. It’s a diverse group of talents. I have photography captains who document THON as a year, graphic design captains that design anything that goes to print or is featured on the web, public management captains that design the THON Weekend program, and social media captains who run our Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, THON Blog. I do what I can to help with all of that.
OS: What made you want to take on the position of Overall of the Public Relations Committee?
KQ: This is my fifth year. I got involved with THON as a freshman, but kind of missed the boat, as they say. I joined Atlas because I was living in the honors college at the time, and it just seemed like a cool thing to be involved in. I didn’t fully understand what THON was until I got to THON Weekend in 2008. From that moment on, I knew that this was what I was going to dedicate the rest of my college career to. I danced and was a Communications Committee Member in 2009, a Public Relations Captain in 2010, and a Family Relations Captain in 2011. Through all of those experiences, I gained different outlooks on THON, and I just kept wanting to do more for this organization because of the children and all that it has given me. I want to be able to give back. A lot of people say it’s a life changing experience, and I definitely believe that. It has changed me, and defined my college experience.
OS: What are you looking to change/do differently this year with the Public Relations Committee to help improve it?
KQ: One thing we say is we don’t want to make THON bigger, we want to make THON better. Personally, what I think would make THON better is education. My biggest thing is educating the volunteers and making sure they know what this organization, that they give so much time to, is. I feel it is important for them to be able to confidently speak about The Four Diamonds Fund, to speak about cancer, and how it is treated. To be able to speak about THON, and all its aspects, and about what we are doing here. I’m educating my committee, and trying to bring that education not only the THON community, but the Penn State community. In terms of trying to spread the awareness of THON, I think we’re trying to set the ground work for years to come. Public Relations has been a committee that changes a lot each year, and so I want to make sure that in the years to come, they can hit the ground running.
OS: What moment or moments are you most looking forward to during this upcoming THON year? Be as specific or vague as you want.
KQ: I’m excited for everything. I don’t think I could just pick one. I think the thing most important to me is being able to see the Four Diamonds children, and getting to see them smile. So whenever that happens, that’s the moment I’m most excited for.
OS: Why do you THON?
KQ: I THON for many reasons. I THON for some personal reasons, but mostly for the families and students. A lot of people talk about the families, and the difference we are making in their lives, and as a Family Relations captain, I got to see that firsthand. I can’t tell you the pain these children go through, and to be able to bring a smile to their faces for an hour or two is worth anything.
I THON for the students here at Penn State because it gives them leadership experience and instills in them a commitment to service that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. I think we’re making better citizens for the future. Kirsten Kelly said that she was once told that our generation is selfish, and that she hopes we are making a difference. I think that sums it up. I really hope we are proving everyone wrong, and that we are making a difference here.
OS: Name an event or two that you think will make this year’s line dance.
KQ: Well, probably the earthquake that just happened. And the hurricanes, maybe? I’m not really sure right now.
OS: Finally, if you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be, and why?
KQ: Pterodactyl, I think. My dad is a pilot, so I’ve grown up flying, and I love it. So I think a pterodactyl would be good. It would be easier to get to places.
If you enjoyed this interview, make sure to check out the previous installments of the Overall Series: Communications, Supply Logistics, Special Events, & Technology as well as my 10 questions with THON Overall Elaine Tanella. Also, catch up on the rest of the recent THON content: FT5K 2011, THON 2012 Theme, Overall Life Lessons, 2011 Summary of Fundraising Activities, Canning Map Weekend #1, Canning “Do”s & “Don’t”s, New to THON.