Facebook pixel Seaver College Public Relations Capstone Course Creates Transformative Experience for Students and the Local Community | Newsroom | Seaver College Skip to main content
Pepperdine | Seaver College

Seaver College Public Relations Capstone Course Creates Transformative Experience for Students and the Local Community

Seaver College 2024 PR Capstone Students

A liberal arts education is like a pyramid. As students work their way through college, they move from acquiring a broad base of knowledge to developing the specialized skills needed for their career. Each year learning becomes more specific, more narrow, until just one final capstone course prepares them to join the workforce. 

If you’re a public relations (PR) major at Seaver College, this is where Klive Oh comes in.

“A capstone is a combination of everything students have learned,” says Oh, associate professor of public relations, who has taught the senior capstone course for seven years. “In order to put all their knowledge to the test, it’s important to have an immersive experience, almost like a job.”

Klive Oh and his students pose for a photo at the Boys & Girls Club

Accordingly, Oh assumes the role of PR agency director alongside that of professor throughout the 16 weeks of his capstone course. He requires students to bring a resume and cover letter to class, and he puts each of them through a job interview. From there, he then assigns them a position within a team of his simulated company and begins assigning tasks. The process gives Seaver College students a taste of what it’s like to work in a PR firm and collaborate with a client. 

In the 2024 spring semester Oh and his senior students’ PR “client” was the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood. Their goal was to maximize the local community resource’s visibility in the Los Angeles area. To accomplish this feat, the students were split into three groups. Each group took on a different aspect of PR, including social media, media relations, and community engagement.  

Throughout the semester, students collaborated with their respective teammates and the Boys & Girls Club staff members. They reported their progress and findings back to Oh, who continued to advise and manage his employees as if they were on the job. Oh claims this emphasis on experiential learning is vital in rounding out the undergraduate experience.

“Experiential learning takes students out of their comfort zone,” he says. “Our PR students are bright and hardworking; they’re strong writers and public speakers, but they don’t have experience presenting in front of the CEO or board members of an organization.”

Oh gives them that opportunity. 

At the conclusion of the semester, the senior capstone PR agencies traveled to Hollywood to present the progress they had made over the semester to the CEO, individual directors, and board members of the Hollywood Boys & Girls Club. A setting like this, Oh admits, demands that students perfect everything from the slide deck to each individual's speaking assignment. In this strenuous environment, students experience significant growth.

“I learned how to be a part of the PR industry with this project,” says Sofia Isenberg (’24). “This course immersed me in a unique, real-world experience. Few PR professionals get the chance to work with nonprofit companies, let alone one that does so much good for its community.”

Isenberg reported that she and her classmates learned impactful lessons in how to communicate with stakeholders, manage a budget, and strategize effective solutions to a client’s problems. She claimed that working directly with a client added realistic and compelling stakes. Given these strong incentives, the students delivered.

The Pepperdine students created TikTok videos to help the Boys & Girls Club appeal directly to a key segment of its target audience, they organized and drafted fact sheets to demonstrate the club’s impact in the community while composing a list of local reporters the club can contact for coverage, and finally they optimized an external newsletter to develop a stronger connection with the neighborhood’s residents and businesses. In the midst of completing all these assignments, the capstone employees also secured a private tour of Los Angeles’ Magic Castle for 125 school children who frequent the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood. 

“Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Pepperdine's senior PR capstone students,” says Mel Culpepper, CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood. “Each group of students provided valuable insight and guidance in the areas of social media and content creation, donor development and engagement, and community building. We have and will continue to implement many of the recommendations provided to us by the students, who we found to be passionate, creative, and supremely tied into what today's generation of donors are looking for in a nonprofit partner.”

The students’ significant effort, coupled with the glowing reviews from this semester’s client, illustrated to Oh that his students were ready to step beyond the classroom and enter the professional world. As both their agency director and professor, he believes they are well equipped to make a tangible and purposeful impact in whatever field they choose to pursue. 

“I can’t say enough about these students,” says Oh. “They all were resilient. They pulled together and accomplished everything that I threw at them, and they did it all with a smile. They were happy to help this nonprofit organization. This project was testament of how great our students are not just academically or intellectually, but as whole, well-rounded human-beings.”