Life’s a Zoo for UCF Communication Grad

BW HeadshotJackie Wallace, ’00, says she wouldn’t be where she is today without her UCF degree in advertising/public relations.

“I owe everything to what I learned, and more importantly the people I met while attending UCF,” explained Wallace.

Wallace is now the public relations director for the Houston Zoo, overseeing all relationships with the media as well as public officials. She is also responsible for generating positive publicity for the zoo and ensuring their crisis management protocols are up-to-date and practiced.

“I love that I get to work with some of the most incredibly passionate animal lovers on the planet. The staff at the Houston Zoo is unmatched when it comes to care and conservation of wildlife. Each day is completely different, and I truly enjoy telling the animals’ and their keepers’ stories,” shared Wallace.

Wallace kick-started her career in attractions marketing as a summer intern at SeaWorld in 2000. One of her Kappa Delta sorority sisters recommended the program to Wallace and she has been accelerating through her career ever since.

Wallace moved from intern to senior publicist to marketing promotions supervisor at SeaWorld Orlando, before leaving in 2010 to lead public relations strategy for the grand opening of Orlando’s newest theme park – LEGOLAND Florida.

Wallace talked more on her experience at UCF and her advice to students.

Why did you choose to attend UCF?

I chose UCF for two reasons. First, my sister was a Knight and I wanted to be closer to her in Orlando. Second was that I wanted to do internships during normal semesters, and Orlando had so many more corporate companies than Tallahassee or Gainesville.

Were you involved in any extracurricular activities at UCF?

Kappa Delta, PC ’98

Have you stayed involved with UCF since graduation? If so, how?

I’ve stayed involved with the many friends I made during my UCF years and I continue as an avid UCF football fan.

What is your best UCF memory?

Spirit Splash!

What is your most memorable experience on the job?

Any time I get to be around a newborn animal, whether watching a killer whale be born at SeaWorld or meeting two clouded leopard cubs two hours after their birth, it is an incredibly emotional experience.

What piece of advice would you give to current students?

Intern, intern, intern! I highly recommend doing as many, and as varied, internships you can possibly cram into your calendar. I had several internships while at UCF, and I absolutely found my career path in attractions publicity.

Wallace shared some fun facts about herself to help us get to know her better.

What is one thing drives you absolutely crazy?

There, their, they’re! Grammar matters, and it drives me crazy when I see people use the wrong form of there, their, they’re!

What is your favorite album (current and all-time)?

Current: Crystal Yates, I Believe.
All-time: U2, Rattle and Hum.

What TV show are you embarrassed to admit watching?

I’m not embarrassed. I watch a LOT of terrible TV! However, I should be embarrassed to admit my love for The Bachelor/Bachelorette.

Describe your ideal Saturday night.

My ideal Saturday night starts with a late afternoon swim in our pool with my two kids, Nolan, 6; Paige, 3, followed by a dinner out at a local Texas steakhouse with my husband and friends.

What or who inspires you?

I’m inspired by people who follow their passion and have found a way to make a living doing what they love. Whether as a stay-at-home parent, blogger, country singer, top chef or wildlife conservationist, I’ve been lucky to know so many people who have found their true vocation and find success doing the things they love to do.

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