Back to Top

A lesson in hard work

Joe Dunay has settled into his new role as a public relations major, relying on his intuition and work ethic to succeed. (photo/Joshua Eilola)

It is not unusual for students to change their major throughout their college career. As students try and find their interests and use that to put them on a career path that they will enjoy, they discover more about themselves. Sophomore public relations major, Joe Dunay, is one such student.

He began his college career as a history education major and a player for the Ohio Northern baseball team. Dunay wanted to be a history teacher since he was in sixth grade and eventually wanted to get his masters and coach a Div. III college baseball team.

“Eventually, when I got here, I realized I hated history. Like I loved it in high school, and I thought it was excellent, I just didn’t like the narrowness that it held, and I hated how if I didn’t get a job where I wanted to get a job, that was it,” said Dunay about why he changed majors.

One person, he attributes heavily to why he changed to public relations is Dr. Jennifer Walton, chair of the communications department. Walton got him interested in communications, but it was Dr. Alisa Agozzino that pushed him towards public relations.

The change in major occurred after his first semester here at ONU, and Dunay has been very active in his department ever since. He is heading the Village of Edon PR campaign, which is the largest public relations campaign that the department has seen in six years. The campaign is running social media for over 30 separate businesses in the village and is revamping the village’s website.

“Joe is a fairly new public relations major, which is uncharacteristic of what we typically put in a leadership position on an account of this size. But Joe really fits a PR major. He’s sort of — it’s in his DNA. So, what he doesn’t have in classroom knowledge, he makes up in intuition,” said Dr. Katherine Fleck, adviser of the Edon campaign, about Dunay.

Fleck is impressed with Dunay’s progress as a PR major and his willingness to learn and improve. She mentioned that he was not afraid to ask questions when he was not sure of what to do and was very willing to do the job he set out to do.

She went on to mention his work ethic and attitude about the projects he’s involved in. When asked what set Dunay apart from other students, Fleck said, “It’s his willingness. He really wanted to do it… His desire to do it really made us want to give him a shot… We were certainly willing to give him a chance, and he’s done a really nice job” She also thinks that a lot of his desire and work ethic came from being a baseball player.

Edon isn’t the only project that Dunay has joined either. He has been working on the Up to Us campaign, which is a campaign that focuses on spreading awareness about the effects of the United States’ national debt and fiscal responsibility; he is a member of the ONU chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America, the Student Planning Committee and ONU’s student-run PR firm, True North PR.

One thing Dunay mentioned about all his extra-curricular activities is, “even though people say not to overwork yourself and not to do too much and spread yourself too thin, I also appreciate getting to know everything I could be involved in.”

He is trying to be mindful of how much extra work he takes on next semester but is still trying to focus himself towards his career and other leadership roles in the organizations he’s involved in. One of the roles he is striving towards is a national leadership position for PRSSA, which ONU has a long history of being involved in.

Dunay’s idea for his career has drastically shifted from where it was originally. “I guess I’d say my goals are to work in the PR industry… I’m really interested in like spirits and kind of wine, liquor and beer.” Luckily, he has plenty of experience and knowledge in this field already.

His mother worked in a brewery part-time when he was younger, and his parents had always impressed on him the idea of working hard to get what you want. This led to him searching for a job and finding one bussing tables at the brewery where his mother worked. Dunay befriended the owners over the years while also being more involved in the production at the brewery. One of the more important roles he has held at the brewery is that he has been running all the social media aspects of it for two years.

The part he enjoys most about the brewery is “the small industry feeling.” The feeling of building up an industry for him is one that is difficult to match.

However, his interests for careers does fall outside of the spirits industry as well. He has an interest in working in media; one that involves creating documentaries, writing press releases and taking pictures. This is part of what drew him to communications and is keeping his interest fresh as he explores the field fully, diving into journalism with the Northern Review and broadcasting with ONU3-TV.

His continuing desire to discover new interests and explore the full extent of the field he desires to work in is pushing him to work harder and pick up new activities to give him a wide breadth of knowledge for the future.

“The biggest lesson I learned was that until you try something, you’re not going to know if you really like it. So, try anything and everything.”