Meet the 2023 Richmond PR Foundation Scholarship Recipients

Every year, the Richmond Public Relations Foundation invites juniors and seniors at Virginia higher education institutions to apply to its annual scholarship program.

It never gets easier to score and decide on recipients. If the applications we received this year are any indication, our industry is in great hands.

We’re thrilled to recognize another group of exceptional young communication pros. Meet this year’s four scholarship winners below. Please join us as we celebrate the students during the Nov. 30 luncheon.

Sofia Margaret Cochis, Jeff Wilson APR Scholarship of Excellence

As an honor roll Virginia Tech public relations major, with event and experience management and health communication minors, Sofia Margaret Cochis is ready to make a meaningful impact on the world through her communications talents.

The rising senior co-founded a new social student-run organization that encourages all students to walk or run with peers while enjoying views of the Blacksburg sunsets. Last summer, she interned at Commonwealth Consultants and served as Firm Director for Virginia Tech’s PRSSA.

Cochis said: “After graduation, I hope to pursue a career in the field of public relations that focuses on the nonprofit field. I want to help design campaigns that educate others on issues or causes regarding social rights, environmental, public health or political concerns. Being a young professional that is given opportunity to vocalize stances on issues while being creative that may impact another’s life is a job that would be self-rewarding. I want to work in an environment where others are driven to help advocate as a team and with others who desire communicating effectively.”

Emily Robertson, Jonah Holland Memorial Scholarship

Emily Robertson has a passion for advocacy and creating positive change through public relations.

Robertson is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies at Longwood University. She maintains a 4.0 GPA and is president of the Honors Student Association, in addition to interning with Clean Virginia Waterways, a nonprofit dedicated to citizen stewardship of Virginia’s rivers, streams, bays, beaches and groundwater.

Said Robertson: “Now, as an active volunteer in my community, I advocate for my friends, peers, and family because I want to make the change I desire to see in the world. I am motivated to influence politics that affect my hometown to make it more equitable and accepting than when I was in high school, giving others the opportunity to explore their ambitions and passions in a safe place. Working in public relations gives me the chance to implement progress because the most effective change-makers are ones who can not only transform ideas into policy, but who can persuade others to their cause. Our world revolves around communication and I believe it is time to start using our discipline to its fullest potential.”

Kiera James, William Dietrick Memorial Scholarship

Through internships and volunteering, Kiera James is discovering the power and excitement in public relations.

While at VCU, Kiera volunteered with the Richmond Marathon and Habitat for Humanity, and secured internships with Modern Nursery and Richmond-based cosmetics company LipLoveLine. These experiences helped her build skills in social media, blogging and other public relations activities. She also serves on the promotions team for the campus radio station WVCW.

Kiera said: “I would like to work in the field of public relations because I have always had an interest in media and media relations. Growing up in the age of the internet, I have been exposed to public relations and social media unconsciously for my entire life.”


Katie Ariganello, Daphne Lowell Dailey Memorial Scholarship

Katie Ariganello loves communications and she has the internships to prove it.

A senior at Virginia Tech, Ariganello has taken on a wide variety of internships while in school, including roles with the university, Sons of Saturday, Publicity Nation PR, NOVA Parks and the Virginia Tech Media Relations department.

A public speaking coach and teaching assistant, she is committed to helping others navigate college. Ariganello is also involved with Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, Relay for Life, Tech’s PRSSA chapter and Virginia Tech Television.

Ariganello said: “I want to work in the public relations field because I love people. The work of public relations includes all of this — people management, social media, brand management, reputation, the list could go on and on. Through utilizing my relationships with others and learning about what makes people unique, I feel as if I could turn this into a career that I would be passionate about. I also am very detail-oriented and I feel as if public relations has to focus on the details to make a brand or company successful.”


Please consider donating to the Richmond PR Foundation. Your contributions go directly to supporting our annual scholarship programs: