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PR grad says York College diploma “is better served with us giving back”

Nicole Halsey stands outside for a photo.

Nicole Halsey understands that information drives good decisions. She employs that truism at work and even used it when selecting a college. “One thing I’ve learned is that you’re only as good as the information shared with you,” says the Director of Marketing Communications at RoundTable Strategic Solutions in Towson, Maryland. “Working with a client, you ask and you ask.”

The 2000 graduate of York College of Pennsylvania, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations with minors in Marketing, Speech Communication, and English/writing, says that’s her approach at the information technology healthcare consulting company. “If you ask the right questions, you can establish overall goals and set the tone for a strategic plan,” she says of dealing with hospitals and health systems. 

‘A huge impact’

The Baltimore native also benefitted from compiling quality information when, as a junior in high school, she researched which college would provide the best platform from which to launch a career. She knew that she wanted to go into public relations, and she was seeking an affordable education.

“It came down to York College and two other colleges that offered PR majors,” she says, noting that many schools have a PR track in communications studies but don’t offer the major. Through York College’s website and other sources, she delved into the backgrounds of professors and learned that many had worked in the field. “That made a huge impact for me,” she says.

The penchant for unearthing information seems to run in the family. Nicole and her twin sister each compiled lists of colleges, noting pros and cons. After comparing notes, both chose York College.

On a career path

A week after graduation, Nicole began working at Eisner, Petrou & Associates, where she rose to Account Director and worked with name brands. She continued building a strong resume at the Warschawski agency, where she did product placement and promotion for Under Armour, a ship engine manufacturer, and Maryland’s bail bonds association. “I tapped into different industries and learned that you have to think quickly, learn fast, and really dive into these industries to be able to write and talk about it,” she says.

She then spent 15 years with Weinberg Harris & Associates, doing promotion and media relations in business and entertainment. She oversaw promotions for Cirque du Soleil shows in Baltimore and several international horse shows, as well as the first ever all-residential Ritz-Carlton community and Bozzuto home communities.

Much of Nicole’s work with RoundTable involves reaching out to hospitals and health systems and healthcare IT talent resources. Along with attending conferences and continuing her education, that keeps her abreast of developments in the field. “That’s a big part of my job, seeing the trends in the healthcare industry,” she says.

A rigorous test

Public relations is also about managing information, and Nicole credits York College with preparing her for crisis management. In her favorite class, a senior-year course with Lowell Briggs of the Communication and Writing Department, student groups performed public relations for local organizations. Nicole’s group worked with Crispus Attucks Community Center.

At the end of the semester, Briggs hit students with the ultimate test, manufacturing a crisis that affected all the organizations. “For 48 hours, we stayed at one person’s house, took turns going to classes,” Nicole explains. “Professor Briggs would call and give us an update, something would happen, we would change the plan and come up with a solution. It was the most intense 48 hours of my life.”

Then, students were bombarded with questions at a mock press conference. “That prepared me the most for real-life crises because it was a real-life situation,” Nicole says. She would put that knowledge to use when snow caused a museum roof to collapse.

Showing appreciation

Nicole and her husband, Shawn ’01, are involved alumni. “We say we like to give back our time, and financially, for the well-being of other students so they can have the great experience we had,” Nicole says.

For her professional achievement and alumni service, Nicole received the College’s Year of 50 Spartans Award, which marks a half-century since the first four-year degree program’s first-year class. 

Shawn, a Merrill Lynch Wealth Manager, serves on the College’s Board of Trustees. A hallway and business area at the College are dedicated in the couple’s names, and they fund a Public Relations scholarship. They also host networking dinners for students, professors, and alumni.

“We feel very fortunate to have had the experience we did,” Nicole says. “The diploma on the wall is better served with us giving back.”