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Two new public relations students from Eastern Kentucky University recently began their summer internships with Shaping Our Appalachian Region, better known as SOAR. SOAR partners with EKU’s Office of Government Relations and Regional Stewardship and the Department of Communication to create internships for students to gain experience in their field while also assisting the SOAR initiative.

The Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative was created and launched by Gov. Steve Beshear and 5th District Congressman Harold Rogers in late 2013. SOAR’s mission is to expand job creation and tourism, improve opportunity and identity and enhance the overall quality of life to Appalachian Kentucky.

"The partnership between SOAR and EKU has been a tremendous asset to the initiative,” said SOAR Executive Director Jared Arnett.“EKU does an excellent job in providing interns for the SOAR initiative. This partnership allows students to contribute to the enhancement of the Appalachian region, while also learning valuable professional skills. We appreciate the work the interns have done for the region and we look forward to working with them again this summer."

This summer’s SOAR Public Relations Interns are Zach Holman and Stacie Lawrence. Holman, a public relations senior from Berea, also has a communications minor. Lawrence, of Richmond, is a public relations and Spanish double major. Both students are eager to learn in a hands-on environment and meet professionals in the field.

“We are so proud of our students for the good work they are doing with SOAR,” said Dr. Fran Dickson, chair of EKU’s Department of Communication. Dickson concurred with Arnett on the unique opportunity the partnership provides students to learn, apply their skillset, while making an impact on the Appalachian region.

Holman and Lawrence will be responsible for writing press releases, creating and implementing social media plans and designing the SOAR summer e-newsletter. In addition to their work with SOAR, the interns will also collaborate with the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation to update its website and create and implement social media plans for the Foundation.

“This summer is the fourth rotation of interns, and each semester we become more embedded with SOAR and the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation,” said Melissa Newman, EKU SOAR liaison and public relations instructor for the Department of Communication. “The public relations students are getting valuable real life experience and making contacts with professionals and government officials all over the state while learning about the issues facing people in the SOAR region.”

EKU is “very proud to be a leading partner with SOAR,” said David McFaddin, executive director of government relations and regional stewardship.“Our institution has a long history of service and stewardship throughout Eastern Kentucky, and we look forward to helping shape the success of our region for generations to come.”