I was recruited by my professor to help restart the Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter at Western Carolina University in 2009. I went to my first PRSSA national event in San Diego at the 09 National Conference and then became the Chapter President in December. My first event was insane. I wasn't 21 yet, didn't know anyone at all... and got INSPIRED by other Chapters and members. I thought everyone else had it all put together and the speakers knew everything. I knew I wanted to better my Chapter and get to know more of these extremely smart members.
I had such a good time building the WCU Chapter with my executive board throughout the next year & it was definitely a learning process. As Nick Lucido and other past leaders say, "PRSSA is a learning organization."
I began to really join in on the #PRSSA conversation on Twitter (where I met my now best friend Amy Bishop), connected with my national region contact and National Committee member, Rachel Sprung, and couldn't wait for the PRSSA 2010 National Conference in Washington D.C. I was still Chapter President and was extremely fortunate to meet Tara Rosenbaum and her Chapter members, as well as so many others, at that event. It was during the Chapter President luncheon that Rachel, Scott and a few others encouraged me to run for National Committee. I was terrified and intrigued.
From the Conference throughout winter break, I decided to run for vice president of public relations and submitted my application for the 2011 National Assembly in Seattle. I ran against 4 or 5 other people, gave my speech and answered all the questions during the Q&A period. The Assembly delegates chose me and I became the national vice president for an organization I had come to care so much about. I was thrilled when Amy was made FORUM editor in chief too! One of the best parts = visiting the ORIGINAL STARBUCKS quite a few times.
I had a great time on my first national committee and we are all a bunch of fierce, bold leaders. Like in every group, we had our challenges, but at the end of the day we all worked together for the same goals. I still talk to a lot of them and have so much respect for everyone. We were a great group who accomplished a lot for the Society.
I decided to run for National President to continue to give back to the Society that I seriously love. PRSSA had given me so many opportunities and I wanted to continue my journey and dedicate more time to the organization. My goal was to increase awareness of national initiatives and membership benefits so others could learn to take more advantage of what this organization offered. I became National President from the 2012 National Assembly in Charlotte.
It was truly an honor to serve as the National President with a very talented team. I learned so much more in this year than I did in some of the classes I had taken for years in college. From that opportunity, I learned about leadership, teamwork, networking, mentoring and so much more. I'm so thankful that I had that experience and it was quite a year! I like to think I helped move the Society just a little bit forward and I know that other leaders continue this every day. I know the Committee worked very hard as well and I can't thank them enough for their friendship and support.
As much as I loved being President, I really love being the Immediate Past President now! As the President, I chose Albuquerque as the spot for the PRSSA 2013 National Assembly because I had never been, we don't do a lot of events in the southwest and I thought it would be something different. It was my last big event as President and I got to see the next leaders, the last ones I would serve with, become elected.
As I graduated in December of 2012, it was great to be the IPP to connect PRSA and PRSSA. This National Committee has been a pleasure to serve with as well and they are all insanely talented and dedicated. I'm happy to have served with them and it's been a great last year with them.
So this year, the PRSSA 2014 National Assembly is in Charleston and I can't believe my PRSSA journey is over! It's been almost five years and I'm happy to have had these moments. You get out of PRSSA what you put into it and I dedicated so much. I'm extremely happy and grateful for my experience with PRSSA. I have friends all over the country, valuable networking connections and a group of people I know I will continue to see in the field for the rest of our lives! It's an incredible thing to be a part of I can tell you that.
I really look forward to continuing to serve in PRSA and hopefully helping out younger PRSSA members as they transition from student to professional too.
Three National Committees, 15+ PRSSA trips, countless meetings and friendships = one priceless journey.
Here's to my last PRSSA event and the many more to come in PRSA! Thanks for reading this and for going along on my journey with me!
My PRSSA takeaways:
- It's not all about the networking connections you'll make. The most valuable takeaway for me from PRSSA are the friends I was able to make that support me every day.
- Make the most of the events. Really branch out, meet new people, ask a speaker for coffee and keep in touch with everyone.
- Serve. Leadership is about service and giving back and learning are two of the most important things. You'll be wrong and you'll make mistakes, but learn from them.
- Continue learning. I'll never know everything and neither will you. Always take the opportunity to learn MORE!
- Take advantage of your student-run firm to get real-world client experience. Treat it as though it is a real job, because it is.
- Use your benefits!! Write for FORUM and Progressions, listen to the webinars, utilize the National Committee, network with other leaders, attend Regional Conferences and everything else. You pay for it, so use it.
2009 National Conference in San Diego
2010 National Conference in D.C.
2011 National Assembly in Seattle
2011 Leadership Rally in Scottsdale
2011 National Conference in Orlando
2012 National Assembly in Charlotte
2012 Plank Center Leadership Retreat in Chicago
2012 Leadership Rally in Scottsdale
2012 National Conference in San Francisco
2013 National Assembly in Albuquerque
2013 Regional Conference in Ohio
2013 Leadership Rally in Scottsdale
2013 National Conference in Philadelphia
2014 Regional Conference in Boston
2014 National Assembly in Charleston