With an office overlooking the busy streets of Fifth Avenue in New York, N.Y., Rebecca (Lewis) Caruso, a 1979 alumna, has traveled a long way from her days as an English major at Waynesburg College. Her experience at Waynesburg has led to a highly successful public relations career and her position as the Executive Vice President for Corporate Communications at L'Oreal USA.
The Waynesburg University Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Chapter invited Caruso to speak to students as part of the Chapter's third annual PR Week. Caruso happily accepted the invitation to speak about her career, her passion and her role as a vice president for a large company.
In her current role, Caruso oversees all external communications efforts, including media relations, government relations, sustainable development, philanthropy and crisis communications for L'Oreal USA. She also manages two L'Oreal programs that recognize women researchers in the field of science and advocate career opportunities in science to young women.
“Our programs recognize and help advance women and girls in science,” Caruso said. “As the mother of two daughters, I certainly appreciate the importance of the roles that women play in science but science is also a strong part of L'Oreal's DNA. We're all about science and over half of our scientists are women. We really walk the talk.”
After graduating from Waynesburg College with a bachelor's degree in English, Caruso went on to receive her graduate degree in corporate communications in 1984. Caruso started her first job as the assistant director of public relations for a Pittsburgh college. It was in this position that Caruso discovered her passion for working with the media.
This new found passion led Caruso to a variety of positions in the Mid-West. She worked for a number of companies in communication roles, including Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate; the world's largest public relations firm, Edelman; American Motors; Chrysler; and McDonald's. She moved back to the East Coast after joining Toys “R” Us as Vice President of Corporate Communications for six years where she built the company's first corporate communications department before ultimately accepting her current position with L'Oreal.
“One of the things I have liked best about my career is that I moved around a bit and have had lots of opportunities that were completely out of my comfort zone,” Caruso said. “It's been a wonderful experience.”
Looking back, Caruso acknowledges that her involvement and studies at Waynesburg helped prepare her to take the path to where she is today.
“I always think back fondly on my Waynesburg experience,” she said. “The education I received has served me well for as far as I've come.”