One PR Major’s Journey from Argentinian Immigrant to Student Leader at CJC
By Rachel Rosen, Media Production, Management, and Technology junior
Nerves and uncertainty ran through Ceci Edelberg’s veins during her five-hour drive from Aventura, Florida, to Gainesville, Florida, for her visit to the University of Florida. She toured the College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) on a late Friday afternoon, and she saw students recording for WUFT News.
Originally, Edelberg wanted to go out of state to branch out. She had no desire to go to UF, unlike so many of her high school classmates. However, her wish was financially unrealistic, and she opened herself up to the reality of going to college in Florida.
The tour she took in 2021 allowed her to find her academic home. In her short visit, she noticed how much UFCJC students truly care and the College and each other. She knew she could fit in because she would be surrounded by others who were as academically motivated as she was.
Edelberg is now a Public Relations junior with minors in history and Latin American studies.
She moved from her hometown, Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Aventura in January 2016 at 13 years old. Despite the drastic change, she carried positivity and optimism to embrace this opportunity. Quickly, she immersed herself in leadership positions in school, becoming an inspiration to others.
For Edelberg, Buenos Aires is like a lifelong friend — a place that will always be there to support her, serve as a source of comfort and remind her how she became who she is today. It is still home to all four of her grandparents and some of her cousins.
She found a love for the English language early on. At just 10 years old, she was reading books in English and watching American movies with Spanish subtitles, which came in handy when her family moved to the United States.
Still, the transition to the U.S. came with challenges and cultural differences. A major difference is how close children in Argentina are with their friends’ parents. She says a lot of her friends’ parents helped raise her. They would call her out if she did anything wrong, and she misses spending time with other families in Buenos Aires. Still, she accepted her new life.
“I had a mentality of I didn’t choose this,” she said. “This is not my decision, so might as well do the best with what we have.”
Edelberg expected to be accepted in Aventura because the Miami area has a lot of Hispanic Jews like herself. However, she did not feel taken in. She did not let it bring her down either, though. She continued to seek out people who would embrace her for who she was.
“One of the girls in my middle school homeroom my first year started talking to me my first day,” she said. “We made plans that weekend, and she’s been my best friend till this day.”
As each day passed, Edelberg became increasingly comfortable immersing herself in the school community, notably through Model United Nations. “Doing Model UN kind of opened my eyes to current events and politics and news, and I was immediately drawn to it,” she said. “This is something that I care about. I care about the world around me. I care about what’s going on beyond my little corner.”
She was also involved in The Lightning Strike, the high school newspaper. Initially, she was writing only headlines, but she quickly rose to be a staff writer, opinion editor and finally editor-in-chief.
Edelberg originally applied to UFCJC as a journalism major. But she burnt out on journalism before reaching Gainesville. Still, she knew she wanted her major to stay within the College.
“I stumbled into public relations,” Edelberg said. “There’s so many things that you can do, and I like the real-world impact that PR has. When I saw what PR was and how strategic it was, I was like this is what I need to do. And now I love it. It’s my favorite thing.”
She perceives PR as applied journalism, and the crossroads between communications, real life and real-world issues. The best PR professionals are those who keep up with the news, she said.
Beyond the classroom, Edelberg has prioritized making an impact on campus. She is the managing director of Alpha PR, a student-run PR agency, the director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Alpha Epsilon Phi and the chief of staff for the Hispanic Student Association. She also sits on the board of the UF chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, has taken on leadership positions at UF Hillel, and became one of two undergraduate student representatives for UFCJC’s International Committee.
Edelberg explained that she engages in clubs that represent multiple facets of her character, the Hispanic Student Association, UF Hillel and Alpha Epsilon Phi.
“I listen to people when they talk, and I feel like my involvement in all of these things was led purely by love,” Edelberg said. “I’m a PR major, like me being chief of staff of the Hispanic Student Association, I care about it a lot, but will an employer care? Hopefully the right one will, but there’s a chance they don’t, and it was never because of that. I just wanted to feel closer to my community, to my people and find the people that cared about the same things I did.”
Edelberg’s roommate and friend Gali Polichuk said Edelberg helped her feel at home in Gainesville after they first met in fall 2022. Edelberg invited her over, introduced her to her friends, looked out for her and ensured she felt included.
“She tries to think the best of people and likes to really bring out the best in people, so I really like having that energy around and also her way of just making people feel seen and included,” Polichuk said. “I think that that’s really powerful.”
Edelberg and Polichuk fostered an inseparable bond, one Edelberg also has with her sister Sofi, who is two-and-a-half years younger. Sofi cherishes the guidance and support her older sister has given her. She found it difficult to be at home when Edelberg first moved to Gainesville, but now the sisters get to experience college together. Sofi started freshman year at UF in fall 2023, which has made her gain a greater appreciation for her sister.
Already a role model for her sister, Edelberg hopes to spread that to other students in her remaining time on campus. She specifically hopes to inspire international students, who didn’t have guidance coming into college.
“I think it’s about all of us being there, about people being like, okay, there’s other people who are just like me who are succeeding, who are thriving,” Edelberg said. “I belong in the J-School, I belong at UF, I belong in the profession and I think we have such a huge international population that you don’t realize on your day to day.”