Huntington's Disease Society of America Center of Excellence

Summer intern looking forward to engaging, furthering HD cause through communications

ChristinaColletta

By Christina Colletta

Editor’s note: Christina Colletta joins the UI HDSA COE as a student public relations assistant this summer. In the following article, the spring 2014 UI graduate with a degree in journalism and mass communications and minor in business administration introduces herself to the HD community. Colletta is looking to spread HD awareness by telling the stories of those in the HD community. If you want to share your HD story, contact her at collettachristina@gmail.com.

I am thrilled to be working as a public relations assistant for the University of Iowa Huntington’s Disease Society of America Center of Excellence this summer!

My path to working here started while attending Niles West High School in Skokie, Ill., where I discovered a passion for working with students in the special education program. This led to my involvement in a number of organizations dedicated to providing recreational opportunities for children and adults with disabilities. I developed an admiration and appreciation for people affected by mental, physical, and emotional disorders, and the organizations dedicated to improving their lives.

As a recent graduate of the UI with a degree in journalism and mass communications and a minor in business administration, I was searching for a job in the field of public relations and marketing, preferably for an organization similar to the ones I was involved with in high school. While scouring the web for prospective jobs, I came across a posting for this position.

Despite my unfamiliarity with Huntington disease, the opportunity to gain experience in my field of study while working toward a meaningful cause sparked my interest immediately, so I eagerly submitted an application.

A few days before my interview, I set out to heighten my practically non-existent HD knowledge by familiarizing myself with the basics of HD. A few Google searches and many hours later, I found myself glued to the computer screen, captivated by stories of families and individuals coping with HD.

The more I read, the more my heart ached for the strong individuals affected by this devastating disease. I felt compelled to make a difference in some way for these individuals, and, despite having applied for other positions, I knew this was a job I truly wanted.

Considering I spent the hours leading up to my interview nervously tapping my foot as I scrambled through my notes attempting to retain as many HD facts and statistics as humanly possible (while kicking myself for not paying better attention in my high school science courses), I was completely surprised and relieved when I found out I got the job one week later.

Although I have only skimmed the surface in terms of understanding the specifics of HD, I am dedicated to learning as much as I possibly can over the next few months. I look forward to combining my love for writing and passion for people by generating content for the UI HDSA COE’S social media pages, newsletters, and other mediums.

As I continue to learn more and more about Huntington disease, I am becoming increasingly passionate about the people affected by the disease, as well as the work our center does for the HD community.

I believe educating and engaging the public through effective communications is essential to furthering a cause. I believe storytelling is a powerful tool that has the potential to inspire others to take action, just as the stories I read about the HD community motivated me to pursue this position.

I aspire to motivate others this summer, and would be happy to hear from you if you have any story ideas to help me achieve this goal! I am beyond grateful to have this opportunity, and am excited to see what the next few months have in store for me!