As local celebrities and prominent members of the Miami community made their way down the red carpet at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital It’s All About the Kids Gala, students in the Public Relations Experience Program made sure every aspect of the event ran smoothly. 

Guests were greeted by PREP students’ smiling faces as they entered the JW Marriot Marquis Hotel for the gala on Saturday, Oct. 1. The event raises money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which provides medical care to sick children regardless of their family’s ability to pay for treatment.

PREP students checked-in media, assisted photographers, and even conducted interviews with the gala’s VIP guests, as well as managed the traffic flow on the red carpet. The size of the gala and the 30-foot red carpet meant the PREP team had to be ready to work. Newcomers to PREP Dalia Paskin, Sophia Dacharry, and Elyse Waterman assisted St. Jude and World Red Eye staff photographers for the night. Theresa Burton and Evelyn Pang worked with PREP veteran Cat Coleman to run the red carpet. Although a senior, Parker Yates is new to PREP and helped with the media check-in. Veterans Mary Bryant Fleming and Jess Clavero supervised the students and worked with the staff from St. Jude.

“I got to interview a few local TV celebrities which was a surreal experience,” said public relations major Michael Zubizarreta, who spent the night serving as the videographer’s assistant. The gala was Zubizarreta’s first PREP event, and he was excited to learn about all of the behind-the-scenes production involved in red carpet events.

Students Burton, Pang, and Coleman helped the photographers identify the celebrities in each photo by writing their names down on a white board and giving them the signature St. Jude logo magnetic pin.

“I learned that when working a red carpet, you have to communicate with the celebrities and photographers,” said Coleman, a junior majoring in public relations. “You can’t be afraid to tell them exactly what to do and where to stand to make it run smoothly.”

PREP’s partnership with St. Jude gives students hands-on public relations and event experience in addition to insight about the positive impact organizations like St. Jude have on the community. 

“My favorite moment was listening to this father talk about how much St. Jude means to him, as his daughter Chloe is a cancer survivor. I could just see how happy he was to be there,” said Zubizarreta.