Stellar Student: Kiley Herndon

Keeping herself active with multiple activities is nothing new for SIUE senior Kiley Herndon. In addition to earning dual degrees in English and Applied Communications she has taken multiple employment and extracurricular roles on and off campus.

Kiley Herndon, a dual major in English and Applied Communictions, has published research, managed a blog and helped launch a mobile application while maintaining a 3.92 GPA. (Photo courtesy of Kiley Herndon)

Perhaps it was variety that drew the Wood River native to the fast-paced world of public relations. After Herndon graduates this May, the 22-year-old hopes to land a position working for a major PR agency in the St. Louis or Chicago area.

“Your job will change every day,” Herndon said. “I really like that because I didn’t want to work in an office setting where I would be doing the same exact thing every single day. I liked public relations because you get to work with different clients. There are so many different aspects you get to do because public relations is so broad.”

Herndon said she enjoys the many facets of working as a PR account manager from meeting with clients and writing press releases to traveling and managing social media. On Saturday, the dual major participated in the second annual Financial Empowerment Fair at St. Louis Community College, which she helped plan as an intern for the St. Louis Treasury office. In addition to posting a 3.92 GPA, Herndon has made the Dean’s List each semester, earned a place on the Phi Kappa Phi honor society and was named a Stellar Student by the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Kiley Herndon is not just an amazing student, with exceptional level participation in the courses that she takes and a high GPA,” Applied Communications professor Sorin Nastasia said. “But (she is) also one of those rare students who combine extracurriculars, — namely an interest in research and a very active involvement in service, — with her regular coursework activity.”

Herndon said the roots of her academic interests were cultivated while growing up in nearby Wood River. Herndon enjoyed reading and studying English while attending Roxana High School.

“I like thinking critically about literature,” Herndon said. “But for the job field, I really like doing public relations and English kind of goes with that so it’s nice because my love is English but I can translate that to an actual job.”

An affinity for education is in Herndon’s blood. Her grandfather, Jim Herndon, is an educational administration instructor in the Educational Leadership department. Her father, Matt, is a physical education teacher at Lewis and Clark Middle School in Wood River, and her mom, Cyndi, teaches language arts at Edwardsville’s Lincoln Middle School.

An avid reader who lists research as one of her hobbies, Herndon did not hesitate when she learned about a research opportunity during her freshman year. Herndon enrolled in the Undergraduate Research Creative Activities, a program normally comprised of upperclassmen. Through URCA, she worked with a professor to publish research on Civil War era nurses earning their pensions in the American Journal of Nursing. Herndon also won third place for best undergraduate research paper for her study on the Bible’s representations of women and how it affects contemporary society. She currently hopes to get a paper published on research called “the high school question.” During the study she worked with Applied Communications professor Sarah VanSlette to determine if people who migrated to the St. Louis area for employment were affected when asked if they attended a local high school.

As the director of Marketing and Communication for SIUE’s student government, Herndon created and maintained a blog that discusses relevant topics such as parking ticket fines on campus. The senior occasionally will write an entry, or student senators and board trustees will also write after board meetings.

“I decided that we needed a blog to help with the transparency for the organization because a lot of people don’t know what student government does,” Herndon said.

Last summer, Herndon enrolled in Nastasia’s International Public Relations course, a three-week study abroad program, where she traveled to Budapest and Munich.

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