In 2001, Alonda Thomas, a public relations major at FAMU, completed the last leg of her undergraduate career. With skills and goals in hand and heart Thomas started her post-undergraduate journey. Little did she know, she would be the Rattler to watch.
Now almost two decades later, Thomas has ventured through many tiers of the public relations industry. The Miami native treasures her humble beginning at the college of love and charity.
Crediting the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication with letting her know what she did and did not want to do. “I started as a broadcast major my freshman year and after getting a true feel for the industry I switched over to public relations,” Thomas said.
Throughout her matriculation, Thomas snagged an internship in the Office of Communication on campus. There she worked with the Interim Associate Vice President of University Relations and Public Affairs, Sharon Saunders.
“I enjoyed working with Sharon Saunders. she took me under her wing,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ internship gave her hands-on experience into what would be her profession. When asked how important internships are for those pursuing her career, Thomas said, “They allow you to make connections and learn from those in the field.”
In 2013, Thomas found herself back on the hill not long after the hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion. This time she wore a new hat as the Director of Media Relations for the university. Thomas worked to rehabilitate the esteemed Marching 100 after a tragic moment in the band’s history.
Thomas assisted with anti-hazing programs and educational seminars that were put in place as preventative measures to ensure that the band would be fully restored by relating this to the media.
Her work proved to be exemplary as nine months after her appointment to Interim Vice President of Communications, Thomas took on a new role as Director of Media Relations for the university when Saunders, Thomas’ mentor, retired.
“Ms. Alonda Thomas served Florida A&M University as a dedicated professional with insights and skills that were needed during a challenging period,” said President Larry Robinson, who was the interim president when Thomas was hired in 2013.
In 2014, Thomas left the hill once again and started a new job at TV One as a senior public relations consultant.
Reflecting on her journey Thomas shared some of her most significant memories.
“Most recently while working at TV One I coordinated media interviews for artists like Jagged Edge, Wyclef Jean and SWV for the show, Unsung. While you’re in the middle of doing the work, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But, when I look back I can truly say that I’ve been blessed to work in some very good company,” Thomas said.
There is no doubt that Thomas is exceptional at her craft, but when asked what gives her the cutting edge, it was something that may be simple for some and a bit more difficult for others.
“I was never afraid to travel for a job, I don’t have a problem with relocation,” said Thomas. For one who relocated quite often, her career has taken her everywhere but the city she hails from.
Thomas said, “I have never worked in my hometown of Miami.”
The road has not always been easy for Thomas and she wants those going into her field of expertise to know it’s not always a walk in the park.
“Look for opportunities! Looking for work is full time job. Job opportunities aren’t going to come to you, you have to go get them,” said Thomas.
Not only is Thomas an example for future PR professionals, she has inspired her colleagues as well.
“Alonda was and has always been a walking example of what it means to be a Rattler. She is resilient, hard-working and always gives her best in the name of FAMU. As a young leader in communications, her confidence and commitment have always been inspiring,” said Kanya Stewart, assistant director of communications for media and University Relations at Florida A&M.
Thomas will continue to inspire those she encounters as she embarks on a new aspect of her journey at Howard University.
“I am very passionate about HBCUs. Many ask, are HBCUs relevant, when in truth they are diverse and equip their students for life after college. No one would ever ask Harvard that,” said Thomas.
Thomas is two months into her new position as Director of Public Relations at the highly esteemed HBCU. Rattlers are positive she will strike even in Bison territory.
“I am not surprised that she has been tapped to contribute to the wellbeing of another one of our outstanding sister institutions,” said President Robinson said.