When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Caron Kay Blanton ’87 was the public relations director for the Mississippi Department of Education. Her primary concern was to help the state’s public relations directors and superintendents of its 152 school districts, many of whom were dealing with damage to their own houses, to communicate with their constituents.
With widespread power outages for two weeks, communicating swiftly and factually with limited infrastructure to the press, federal agencies, and citizens was no small task. All but 14 school districts were closed because of the hurricane, but all were reopened by November 7, 2005, despite damage to over 300 schools, including 18 that were completely destroyed and 24 that were severely damaged.
“What I do impacts one-half a million school children, parents, and teachers in Mississippi,” explains Caron, now director of legislative service and acting director of communications.
The College’s strong curriculum-wide emphasis on writing and critical thinking provides students like Caron with the writing skills necessary to succeed in any career.
“Effective writing and communications are essential to any organization,” Caron says.
She’s able to use those skills everyday in her current position. Part of her job includes working with the state legislators to secure funding for the schools while promoting the programs and initiatives of the State Board of Education to stakeholders in the community and private industry.
One such initiative is designed to garner support for early childhood education by providing information on national studies that have demonstrated the benefits of preschool through the beginning of their professional careers.
“In my job, I communicate with diverse groups with different perspectives to accomplish one goal,” Caron says.