March 30, 2012
Combining academics with St. John’s University’s
Vincentian focus on service, students in a public relations
writing class used their communications skills recently to boost
participation in the New
York Organ Donor Network’s (NYODN) first registration drive on
In addition to helping NYODN volunteers distribute literature,
the students created flyers and a press release published in
The Torch, St. John’s student newspaper. They also developed a
media contacts list and organized a program for NYODN’s first
on-campus information session. The March 8 event featured speakers
from the Network and testimonials from people who had received
Following the information session, the students held a screening
of the 2002 film John Q, starring Denzel Washington as a
father whose son needs a heart transplant.
Their teamwork convinced more than a dozen people to register on
site as potential donors.
Joseph Sciame ’ 71Ed, Vice President for Community Relations,
called the results “encouraging,” considering New York State’s low
participation rate — 18 percent, for a rank of 48 among the 50
“When people learn that as many as eight lives may be saved by a
single individual’s generosity, they more seriously consider the
possibility of signing up,” said Sciame. Registering also gives
families advance notice of a donor’s intentions, he added.
The partnership began when Karen Cummings ’92SVC, a public and
professional education specialist at NYODN, reached out to St.
of Community Relations. Dedicated to strengthening the bond
between the University and its neighbors, the office was glad to
assist — especially for a cause that benefits so many people.
The office and NYODN began working to determine the best way to
bring the message to the campus community. Margaret Cashin ‘03CPS,
‘10G, Community Relations Assistant, contacted
Jane Paley, Assistant Professor of
Mass Communications in the
College of Professional Studies.
Prof. Paley incorporates Academic Service-Learning into her
courses and often enlists her students to support Community
Relations activities. “Assisting NYODN seemed like a perfect way to
show my public relations writing students how the skills they learn
in class can help improve lives,” she said. “It brings the
University’s Vincentian mission into their work.”
Then NYODN’s Strategic Marketing Manager, Angela Palmieri, spoke
to Prof. Paley’s class. With the information she provided, the
students developed a campaign to raise awareness on campus. Their
efforts resulted in a significant turnout at the March 8 event and
the registration of potential organ donors. “This is key,” said
Prof. Paley. “Public Relations is results-oriented.”
With continued assistance from Prof. Paley’s students, NYODN
representatives will return to the campus over the next few weeks
to register additional potential donors. The Office of Community
Relations invites all members of the St. John’s community to
support the effort. For more information, contact Cashin at (718)
990-1941. Or stop by the Office of Community Relations, Newman Hall
Room 155 on the Queens campus.