National Championship winner Grace O’Brien with her horse, Cruiser.

Last October, Illinois State University alumna Grace O’Brien won a national championship at the 37th-annual Grand National and World Championship Morgan Horse Show in Oklahoma City. This competition is one of the premier horse shows in the United States.  

O’Brien received her bachelor’s in public relations in 2016. During her time at Illinois State, she continued to pursue her passion for horseback riding through her involvement in the registered student organization, ISU Equestrians. Her horse, Corey, was boarded at a stable nearby campus. Even after college, horseback riding provides O’Brien an escape from the stresses of daily life.  

“horseback riding is one of the only things that clears my head. It feels like a good break to leave the city for the weekend to train and then come back to Chicago refreshed for the upcoming work week,” O’Brien said.   

Since graduating from the School of Communication, O’Brien has worked toward gaining experience in the field of social media marketing. Recentlyshe has transitioned into a new role working as a social media manager for Everspring, IncThis company partners with leading universities to help drive admissions, promote courses, and work on strategies. Throughout her professional career, she has utilized skills honed while completing her undergraduate degree. 

National Championship winner Grace O’Brien with her horse, Cruiser.

National Championship winner Grace O’Brien with her horse, Corey.

As a public relations major, O’Brien completed two capstone courses her senior year that she felt immensely prepared her for her professional career. From learning how to do timesheets, working with a client and create a campaign, and practicing her public speaking skills, “Learning about press releases and doing lots of public speaking helped me prepare for the working world. 

When asked to reflect on her time at Illinois State, O’Brien spoke fondly of her past professors and courses.

“I will always look back on my classes in the School of Communication and miss my professors and the experience I have had,” she said.