July 8, 2011
11-119

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

Bright Star Thinks BIG for Valdosta

 

VALDOSTA -- Alumna ReKasa Deen wears a glitzy Think B.I.G. pin on the lapel of her smartly coordinated business suit. The slogan reminds the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce Business Development Director of her role in promoting the region among young professionals.

“One of the main goals of the division of the chamber I represent is to make sure university graduates can find jobs in Valdosta-Lowndes County and that the community is a place where they would like to live,” said the speech communication major, who interned at the chamber her senior year. “Because the chamber is an economic development organization, the big picture goal is to make our community better. This city has some extraordinary and visionary people, and I soak up every word they say. It is gratifying to play a role in that mission.”

Deen, who graduated in 2009, plays a vital role in Opportunity Central, an initiative to increase average weekly wages, and MetroOne, a chamber program to attract and retain young professionals between the ages of 21-40. With more than 400 members, the organization hosts a variety of leadership development, personal enrichment, networking and community involvement opportunities for young leaders.

“As VSU continues to graduate highly-qualified and trained individuals, it is important that our community continues to seek ways to keep that valuable talent here,” Deen said. “MetroOne’s mission is to make our community more attractive to young professionals so that we can retain that talent.”

Myrna Ballard, president of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber, said ReKasa has been integral in a variety of initiatives, including the Valdosta And Lowndes Expansion Team (VALET) and the Special Ombudsman Response Team (SORT), both designed to promote business development.

“From the beginning, it was clear that ReKasa was not just another bright college student. We have utilized literally dozens of impressive bright college students at the chamber over the years, but it was immediately evident that ReKasa is special. She made an impression on our staff and our chamber members with her maturity, professionalism and focus. Other young professionals can learn a lot from her.”

The native of Homerville, Ga. began at the chamber in 2009 as a Business Development and Expansion Coordinator, then moved into the Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator for the next three months. She was promoted to Communications Director and then her current role of Business Development Director.

“I chose to stay in Valdosta because of the career opportunities and close proximity to my hometown. Valdosta has many opportunities to have fun. If alumni haven’t been to downtown Valdosta lately or checked out the new construction on VSU’s campus, I strongly encourage them to do so. They probably wouldn’t recognize it. Valdosta is growing, and it’s a great place to be.”

Deen said Valdosta State provided her with a solid educational background and aided her in the transition from college student to competent professional. She has remained involved with the Department of Communication Arts, speaking to the Public Relations Student Society and evaluating capstone projects for seniors in mass communication.

“I was never one to say that I did not want to learn something because I would never use it. How would you know if you would ever use it, if you don’t know what it is? Working at the chamber, I’ve realized that I can apply something from every course I’ve ever taken to some aspect of my career,” Deen said. “As a student, it was so valuable to me to receive feedback from someone from the business world that I want to provide as much help and support as possible.”

When she is not promoting chamber events, Deen is likely spending time with her fiancé, Jon Hart, and their beloved dogs, Bree and J.R.