The Buzz On Alumna Kristin Harris

Photo of alumna Kristin Harris '11
Advertising and public relations alumna Kristin Harris is living the life she always dreamed of as BuzzFeed’s celebrity editor and head of talent relations

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 1, 2018) — On any given day, you can find Kristin Harris ’11 interviewing A-listers such as Ryan Gosling, Rihanna, Nicole Kidman, Bill Murray and Ed Sheeran.

As BuzzFeed’s celebrity editor and head of talent-relations, Harris has the job that pop culture nerds dream about.

When she was 10 years old, the Lake Mary, Florida, native pictured her career as it is today, and though it’s taken a lot of hustle and hard work, the advertising and public relations alumna has made it her reality.

Harris broke into the industry during her first year at UCF when she was selected by Teen Vogue for a program the magazine was spearheading to collaborate on a project with a skin-care company.

The pivotal moment to jumpstart her current career, however, happened two summers later. She emailed more than a dozen editors to beg for an internship. Without any published work to her name, she created a blog and wrote sample articles in the hopes it would be enough to convince an editor to hire her.

She received a reply from Eva Chen, one of the fashion industry’s youngest editors to lead a national American magazine. Two days later, Harris flew to New York for an interview and was offered an internship at Teen Vogue about eight years ago.

“I’m lucky she took a chance on me. It sounds overdramatic now, but at the time, an internship at Teen Vogue – it was the heyday of [MTV’s show] The Hills – it was a really big deal,” she said. “It was the year magazines started creating an online presence. It was the beginning of everything that exists now. She let me do whatever I wanted. … Without that experience, I would say I would not be where I am right now.”

In addition to the working knowledge she gained through her internships, Harris continued to round out her resume with campus involvement through student government and the study-abroad program. Her time at UCF helped transform her from a quiet teenager to a go-getter.

“I grew up so much in those four years and in this industry and my job, I really truly needed that,” Harris said. “It was really through my experience at UCF — the friendships I made, the professors I met and the opportunities I had — that I grew into the kind of person who could go after her dreams and make them happen.”

She moved to England to further her education at the London College of Fashion. When she came back stateside, she job hunted for a year in New York City.

She remembers a day that seems so long ago now, sitting by the water in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn contemplating her life. Despite her hard work and effort, a job remained elusive.

What was she doing? Should give up on her dream? Map out a new life plan?

Then she checked her inbox.

“I randomly got an email from an editor at Seventeen magazine. She blindly emailed me and said, ‘Someone passed on your resume, I’m hiring for this editor position. Are you interested?’” Harris said. “I still, to this day, don’t know who passed on my resume, which is why networking and hustling and staying involved is so important. Because you just never truly know what’s going to happen.”

She worked at Seventeen for a year, and although she was wasn’t actively looking to leave the magazine, she applied to BuzzFeed in 2014 on a whim for an associate celebrity editor position. Known for its creative, fun and engaging content, the digital media powerhouse scared her. Harris said she didn’t think she was good enough.

“I’ve learned that the things that scare me the most, of what I’m most fearful of, are the ones that are always worth it the most, at the end of the day,” she said.

After two years, she helped create a role coordinating talent relations. She attended her first Grammy Awards in 2017, has navigated red carpets with Blake Lively, and flew from New York City to Hawaii and back in the span of 72 hours to interview Zac Efron on the set of a movie.

It’s not a typical life, but it’s the wonderful one she pursued and finally made her own.

“In this world, your imagination is your opportunity,” Harris said. “Whatever you dream up you can make happen.”

Read more about Harris’ biggest career highlights in the spring issue of Pegasus magazine.

Five Things Alumni Need To Know — July 6, 2015

Miss UCF 2015 Brittany Vasile, ’15, is spending her summer in New York City, with the dream of becoming a Radio City Rockette. (Photo: Courtesy of Brittany Vasile)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. The UCF Alumni Association is launching its inaugural 30 under 30 awards, recognizing outstanding young alumni who continue to reach for the stars in their professional and personal lives. Know someone who should be honored? Nominate him or her today!
  2. The UCF Foundation’s new CEO, Mike Morsberger, aims to raise $500 million by 2018 through a multi-year campaign (not expected to go public until next year) to help the university expand to Downtown Orlando, dramatically increase endowment funds for scholarship support and have a competitive edge in athletics.
  3. The UCF Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Chapter invites participants to join the Florida Public Relations Association’s area chapter for a night of networking at its Sip & Savor Scholarship Fundraiser on Thursday.
  4. The Kenneth G. Dixon School of Accounting in the UCF College of Business Administration was recognized for its B.S. and M.S. programs, which were ranked among the top 50 in the nation by
  5. This week, Miss UCF 2015 and KnightMoves dancer Brittany Vasile, ’15, returns to the Rockettes Summer Intensive Dance Program in New York to assist other dancers in training before re-auditioning for her own shot at becoming one of the nation’s most iconic performers.

Rosen College Alumna to Lead Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce


By Kathy Dorf
Rosen College Public Relations

At just 30 years old, UCF graduate Katie Worthington, ’05, will be the new chief executive of the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, bringing a fresh perspective to a budding area of Central Florida. Like most success stories, Worthington’s was neither predictable nor planned, but for her, it started at UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

After graduating from Rosen College with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, Worthington left her job working at the front desk of the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, a hotel she helped open, and relocated to Polk County. After brief stints in financial services working for State Farm Insurance and SunTrust Bank, she spent several years as the director of reception, public relations and customer service for a local medical clinic.

In 2011, she joined Clark/Nikdel/Powell , an integrated marketing strategy firm located in Winter Haven, where she currently serves as media and account director for clients such as Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing, the Central Florida Development Council, Enterprise Florida and Fantasy of Flight. She also volunteers for various community organizations, including the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, founded the Winter Haven Young Professionals Group, organized the first Polk Emerging Leaders awards ceremony and received the 2013 Leadership Winter Haven Distinguished Alumnus Award.

“Because I’m a tourism nerd, I tried to get involved in anything I could do volunteer-wise within my clients’ business areas, the Chamber of Commerce and economic development,” Worthington said. “Over about six or seven years, I did of a lot of volunteering and became very familiar with the Chamber and all of Polk County.”

As her local reputation and professional brand grew, people started to take notice of Worthington’s talents and passion. When current Chief Executive Bob Gernert decided to retire after a 17-year career that saw CSX and Legoland Florida arrive in Winter Haven, she was encouraged to apply. Following a national search, Worthington was named to lead the Chamber on January 17, 2014, and will officially assume the role on March 1.

Worthington credits her education and experience at Rosen College for making her well-rounded in various aspects of business, including customer service, operations, marketing and public relations, a foundation that translates across industries. She also benefited from learning about the economic impact of tourism and how it can transform communities.

“I think having that holistic view of the economic impact of tourism is probably what’s prepared me most,” she said. “I think of restaurant management and even thought I never wanted to own a restaurant, knowing the challenges of running one makes me much more prepared since many of the chamber members are small business, family-owned restaurants. I certainly have an appreciation for them since I had to come up with a business plan for a restaurant, do a financial analysis and learn about operations in class.”

Worthington hopes to guide Winter Haven through what she calls a pivotal point in the city’s history as community leaders work to formulate a strategic plan for the future. She points to Winter Haven’s strengths as both a tourism and residential destination with its traditions, natural assets and potential to attract young professionals to live and work.

As she reflects on the journey to her new leadership post, she advises students to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible whether it’s through volunteering, shadowing professionals, doing internships or getting involved in student organizations. Also, never underestimate the value of hospitality education to various industries.

“A hospitality management degree is, in my opinion, great because it teaches you the business element as well as customer service, public relations and marketing,” she said. “There’s an emphasis on customer service, which in reality, is the real reason businesses succeed, no matter what industry you’re in.”

See original story on UCF Today.

UCF Communication Alumni Launch Mentorship Program

Nicholson School of Communication student Vanessa Rodriguez (left) talks with Paula Machado, '12, a reporter for InfoMas.
Nicholson School of Communication student Vanessa Rodriguez (left) talks with Paula Machado, ’12, a reporter for InfoMas.

By Anne Shirley Lewis, UCF Knightly News
Co-authored by Julia Anderson, UCF College of Sciences

UCF Nicholson School of Communication students met with their mentors for the first time at the pilot mentorship program breakfast, which was held by the UCF NSC Alumni Chapter on Wednesday morning in the FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

The purpose of the program is to connect students with alumni who share similar academic backgrounds, professional interests and career fields.

This is the first program of its kind, said Shaloni Prine, ’07, assistant director of the UCF College of Sciences Alumni Relations. If this pilot does well, it will be implemented throughout the entire college.

Mentors share experiences, provide new perspectives and insight into their specific industry, enhance the mentees’ skill sets and add knowledge about advancement, according the mentorship handbook.

Alumni working in the areas of radio-television, journalism and public relations were selected as mentors for the pilot program. The diverse selection of alumni represent companies including EA Sports, Hearst News Corp., News 13 and the Orlando Sentinel.

Students in the Nicholson School are nominated by their professors to be a part of this program. The nominated students are paired with alumni for a three-month mentorship program ending in July.

Each mentor and mentee is required to meet a minimum of three times — whether that be face to face, via phone or by email — and discuss career information, common interests, accomplishments and dos and don’ts of networking.

“It’s really your network, which is key to your development,” says Lauren Gustafson, ’08, chair-elect of the UCF NSC Alumni Chapter. “It’s the network that you build that is crucial to moving to the next step. Every job I’ve had, I’ve gotten from people I know.”

UCF faculty members Tim Brown and Rick Brunson attended the event on behalf of the Nicholson School of Communication.

If you’re interested in participating as a mentor in the Knights & Squires mentorship program, please email [email protected].

Read the original story.

Alumna Takes Manhattan

Jessica Lomasson, ’12 | Senior Copywriter, Geometry Global


Alumni association student intern Daniela Marin sat down with advertising-public relations alumna Jessica Lomasson, ’12, when she spoke to the UCF Ad Club in November, discussing the importance of networking with fellow Knights, how she stays involved with her alma mater, her advice to students for breaking into the advertising industry, and more. WATCH THE VIDEO

College of Sciences

College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson presents the college's 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Gwen Griffin, '85. (PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson presents the college’s 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Gwen Griffin, ’85.
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
Gwen Griffin, ’85 | CEO, Griffin Communications Group

Professional Achievement Award 2014

Gwen Griffin’s decision to open her own advertising/PR agency may have seemed spontaneous, but it was not entirely so. The underlying foundation stems from her early interests in social engagement, which compelled her to pursue an education at UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication. After earning her degree, Griffin became highly involved in the aerospace industry promoting the space exploration.

Learn more about Gwen:

Sponsor Spotlight: Curley & Pynn

Roger Pynn, ’73, president of Curley & Pynn and chair of the UCF College of Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board, has been a supporter of his alma mater and the UCF Alumni Association since he graduated. Dan Ward, ’92, vice president of Curley & Pynn, began serving on the UCF Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2006, and is currently back on the board for yet another term. With the association’s need for public relations, Roger, Dan and their partner, Kim Taylor (a UF alumna), stepped forward to help. Most recently, they have contributed their expertise to the alumni association’s strategic plan, which was implemented on July 1.

Dan Ward, '92 (left), and Roger Pynn, '73, toast their alma mater in the conference room at Curley & Pynn.
Dan Ward, ’92 (left), and Roger Pynn, ’73, toast their alma mater in the conference room at public relations firm and UCF Alumni partner, Curley & Pynn.

We sat down with Roger and Dan to ask them more about this integral partnership.

Q. Describe the history of Curley & Pynn’s partnership with the UCF Alumni Association.
A. Curley & Pynn has been a proud partner of the UCF Alumni Association for many years. Roger’s walls are covered with memories of alumni association projects, including one of his earliest efforts, leading the Alumni Trust — a drive to raise $1 million for scholarships for merit scholars. The donors are recognized in perpetuity at Alumni Trust Plaza in front of Millican Hall, where the statue honoring former UCF President Charles Millican stands.

Roger was named Distinguished Alumnus in 1989. Dan served on the alumni board of directors for six years, and was asked by current Chair Peter Cranis, ’84, to return for another one-year term.

Q. Why does Curley & Pynn choose to partner with the UCF Alumni Association?
A. First and foremost, we partner with UCF Alumni because of our love for the university and the impact it has had on our firm and our team of professionals. We also are drawn to the association’s mission. As a public relations firm, much of what we do is based on engagement, and the creation and management of relationships, and that’s central to the Alumni mission as well.

Q. How many UCF alumni does Curley & Pynn employ?
A. We currently employ five proud UCF Knights, as well as an intern from the UCF Nicholson School of Communication. A degree is not a prerequisite for employment, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!

Q. How has Curley & Pynn benefited since partnering with the UCF Alumni Association?
A. The primary benefit for any UCF Alumni partner is relationship building. The UCF Alumni Association creates opportunities for all alumni to connect with one another, with the university and with business partners throughout the region. The old saying that you’re judged by the company you keep is true, and we believe UCF Alumni has reached a point of prominence throughout the state.

Q. How does Curley & Pynn contribute to the UCF Alumni Association?
A. In addition to our board service, Curley & Pynn provides in-kind public relations advice and counsel to the association. We also assign an account team to manage brand identification and strategic communication programs for the association, in support of its strategic plan.

Q. How is Curley & Pynn involved with UCF Homecoming?
A. We’ve long been sponsors of the Black & Gold Gala, and work each year to drive public awareness of Homecoming events and of Distinguished Alumnus award winners.

Q. Is there any additional information you’d like to share about the Curley & Pynn and UCF Alumni Association partnership?
A. We’re tremendously excited about the year ahead, as we develop communication strategies and programs to support the 2014-2019 strategic plan, which seeks to expand the reach of the association and refine its focus around themes of communication, engagement, relevancy and sustainable funding.

4EK Spotlight: Kelsey Moscater


Kelsey Moscater | Ambassador/Vice President of Marketing, 4EVER KNIGHTS

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Junior Kelsey Moscater has been interning with the UCF Alumni Association since the first semester of her freshman year. During that time, she has become an integral part of the communications team, for which she uses her advertising/public relations major to monitor, plan and craft content for the association’s social media channels, update the alumni website, and run analytical data to see how content is doing and how it can be improved.

Despite taking a full load of classes, serving as an ambassador and the vice president of marketing for 4EVER KNIGHTS (student alumni association), and working on the Street Team for Hunter Vision, Kelsey never fails to bring an infectious, positive attitude and bright, cheerful smile to the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, where she works 20 hours a week.

As she takes on an additional social media internship with Toyota of Orlando this summer, we wanted to find out more about this bundle of energy.

10 Questions with Kelsey

Q. How do you think your UCF degree will help you in your future career?
A. I’ll be facing the world with a degree from the institution that has provided me with limitless opportunities and the best experiences of my life. I think that everything this university has done for me will set me apart, and I’ll be prepared for any challenge life throws at me. Bring it on!

Q. Favorite UCF memory so far?
A. I got to take photos on the football field for the (nail-biting!) 2013 Homecoming game. The energy from the stadium pulses right through you, it’s incredible. I loved every second of the experience — especially since I got to snap photos of my friend Joe as he was crowned Homecoming King!

Q. How do you hope your leadership will affect the future of 4EVER KNIGHTS, the alumni association and/or the university?
A. I’m hoping that this year’s superstar marketing committee can work cohesively to promote our events to more students, utilize valuable feedback from students and alumni, and, most importantly, I hope the committee itself gets some great experience along the way! The more involved we are with UCF, the more beneficial the 4EVER KNIGHTS experience will be to all of our members. 4EK is the largest student organization on campus, so we have the potential to impact our university in a great way. I think our team can take on this task and work to improve our university, our alumni and the 4EK program.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about your job?
A. Expressing my creativity. When I get to write copy or come up with details of a social media campaign, I love it!

Q. Least favorite?
A. The hardest part is using all my brainpower for my internship, and then having to go do homework, or study, or work at my other job. It’s exhausting, especially when you have to turn down plans with friends or miss out on a fun event on campus. But it’s part of being responsible and building a future, so I power through.

Q. What one thing drives you absolutely crazy?
A. When someone ruins the punch line of my jokes. C’mon you guys, give a girl a chance!

Q. Hidden talents?
A. I’m great at sleeping. Just kidding. I can play the guitar and violin.

Q. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. Does it have to be ONE food? Because 4 Rivers has a whole menu…

Q. What or who inspires you?
A. My parents inspire me in every way. They’ve worked ambitiously their entire lives to build everything our family has, and there’s never been a time that they haven’t given their all to give my brother and me the best life possible. I can’t thank them enough.

Q. Happiest/proudest moment of your life so far?
A. I was having a particularly rough semester, but I whipped myself into shape and pulled out a 4.0, landed a new internship and remembered how blessed I am. I’m really proud of that.