For Sheryl Thomas-Perkins, the seeds planted during her Cal Poly Pomona years continue to develop throughout her notable career in communications. Before taking on a nine-year post as senior government affairs representative for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), Thomas-Perkins worked in public relations for the cities of Los Angeles and Atlanta and in journalism for publications in California and Georgia. Like a well-planned garden, her career has reaped the benefits of careful cultivation, which began in her college years.
“Cal Poly Pomona continues to sow good things into my life,” Thomas-Perkins says. “The work I do now often requires the research skills, attention to deadlines, and comfort with public speaking that I developed as a student.”
In her current role, Thomas-Perkins is responsible for analyzing aviation-related legislation to determine its impact on the three airports operated by LAWA, including Los Angeles International Airport.
“The wonderful research assistance I received from Cal Poly Pomona librarians over the years helped me develop sound research skills that have helped me with preparing and executing powerful speeches and presentations,” she says.
From her tenure at the Poly Post, Thomas-Perkins learned the importance of deadlines — a work ethic she has applied in her professional life and in managing her volunteer work.
She also draws upon the speaking skills she developed at Cal Poly Pomona whenever she is asked to address stakeholders, government officials and the public.
“During a Cal Poly Pomona course, I learned to manage the butterflies that always seem to be flying inside of my stomach when I start my presentations,” she says. “I really enjoy public speaking because I learned early in my college studies that if you know the subject, you will be an effective — not to mention comfortable — speaker. I speak only when I am familiar with the subject and when I believe that I have something worthwhile to offer the audience.”
Another seed nourished at Cal Poly Pomona was Thomas-Perkins’ love of writing. She has been published in Atlanta Tribune magazine, the Los Angeles Watts Times and USA Today, and she has taught journalism at Los Angeles Southwest Community College.
In the 2008, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign reawakened her “writing bug,” and she wrote a press release about her 102-year-old aunt who was planning to vote for him. “That press release garnered the attention of ABC News reporters. They met us at the polling place and broadcast my aunt’s story in their newscasts throughout Election Day.”
Inspired by that experience, she is hoping to complete a book this year.
After she graduated from Cal Poly Pomona, Thomas-Perkins debated whether to join the workforce or enter graduate school. Bolstered by encouragement from one of her professors, she enrolled in the journalism master’s program at USC. That decision, she says, has proved critical to her career success.
Thomas-Perkins remains loyal to her alma mater. She is working with Cal Poly Pomona staff on a marketing program for a historic fundraising campaign. In addition, she participates in the university’s Professor for a Day program, an experience she calls “amazing.”
Thomas-Perkins has also earned an appointment to the city of Victorville’s Legislative Review Committee. She was recently elected to the board of directors as the communications and job bank co-chair of WTS, an international organization that advances the careers of women in the transportation industry.
Thomas-Perkins considers herself a newlywed, having married her husband, Dudley Perkins, in 2006. In their free time, the couple enjoys traveling, collecting art, watching movies and attending R&B and gospel concerts.
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