Into the Public Relations Field
After serving a full-time LDS mission in the Utah Salt Lake Temple Square Mission, Rita Somfai returned to her native Hungary where she was called as the LDS Church’s national public affairs director for the entire country. The responsibilities of her calling inspired Somfai to consider graduate school in public relations.
“[The calling] was a great surprise and often a challenge,” she said. “I had no training or experience, so I just decided to be creative and willing. I hit some walls that I wasn’t able to climb because of my lack of expertise and experience in the field. I knew it was time for me to get out of my comfort zone and return to school and educate myself further.”
In 2008, after completing her first year of grad school, Somfai was awarded an Oscarson Discovery Grantand set off to New York City to intern with the LDS New York Office of Public and International Affairs. That office focuses on building relationships with United Nations Ambassadors and Consulate Generals in the New York area. It also aims to nurture and establish media relations and assist the public affairs committees in New York City.
One of Somfai’s most memorable experiences during her internship happened while assisting with the BYU Chamber Orchestra’s performance at Carnegie Hall. Leaders from all over the world were in attendance, including His Excellency Mr. Gabor Brodi, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations, whom Somfai was able to meet.
“I felt like the world shrank for a moment as I was able to speak in my native language with this kind man who, in addition, had an excellent sense of humor,” Somfai said.
Although Somfai had never before considered a profession in the field of public relations, her eyes have been opened to how she can aid church efforts by using the skills she is obtaining.
“Working for a genuine cause like the mission of the Church caught my attention,” she said. “I thought if I can learn to further the cause of the Church and the Lord’s work besides the regular proselyting efforts, I might be able to contribute to his kingdom in areas where the Church’s publicity has only taken baby steps.”