UVU’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America won the annual award Best Chapter in the Nation during the PRSSA National Conference in Philadelphia.
The team was excited to receive this award because only one of more than 300 PRSSA chapters are awarded it every year.
“Obtaining this national award is a historic achievement,” Stephen L. Whyte, assistant professor and UVU PRSSA faculty adviser, said.
To be recognized for the award, chapters have to show outstanding performance in many different areas. UVU’s chapter was recognized for their leadership on a national level, for working strongly with the Public Relations Society of America, which is the professional PRSSA in USA, community service, the chapter’s student-run firm, career development, student internship placement and faculty advisement.
“It’s incredible to see how far our chapter has come in the past four years,” Ashley Jewell, UVU chapter president, said. “It is a great honor to win Outstanding Chapter of the Year — the biggest PR award in the nation — and it makes me really happy seeing all our hard work be recognized.”
When announcing the prize, the announcer said that the winner of the award had recently had their advisor win the faculty advisor of the year award.
“After he said that we all kept looking at each other as a way of reassuring ourselves that it was us he was talking about,” said Valerie Mendoza, VP of member services. “It was an amazing feeling.”
PRSSA has managed to expand the chapter over the last couple of years, which helped them win.
They feel like they go above and beyond in what they do. They meet twice a week, have an 18-member board and they work hard to accomplish their goals.
“Stephen Whyte has helped PRSSA tremendously as well,” said Mendoza.
Besides winning Best Chapter in the Nation, they also won Star Chapter. Only 20 schools win that award.
Individual students were also recognized for their outstanding performance.
Henry Cevera was one of 17 students in the nation to receive the Golden Key Award, the highest honor a student can receive. He also received the National President’s Citation.
Emily Nicoline became one of the official conference bloggers and her writing appears on the national PRSSA website (progressions.prssa.org).
This is not the first time UVU’s chapter has been recognized nationally. The advisor of the chapter, Stephen Whyte, received the National Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award last year.
UVU’s PRSSA chapter has not existed for long; it was created in October 2009 but has about 125 student members now. But in those four years, the chapter has received local, state and national recognition.
“Receiving the nation’s highest award from the foremost organization in the country validates the first-class education UVU PR students receive, and it exemplifies the talent, excellence and engagement of our incredible students,” Whyte said. “Within only four years of being created, the UVU PRSSA chapter is now competing head-to-head with the nation’s most established and reputable PR programs.”
The purpose of PRSSA is to provide internship and job opportunities to PR students. They have professional development activities and programs every month to give students the chance to meet with industry professionals.
There are three areas that PRSSA tries to focus on for students. These include enhancing their education, broadening their network and launching their career.
But PRSSA doesn’t only provide activities for students. They also work to provide service to the university and the community.
One example of a service they do for the university is “Teacher Appreciation Week” where students can show their appreciation to the teachers.
UVU PRSSA has also received honorable mentions for student teams in PRSSA’s premier National Bateman Case Study Competition.
And they have also received four Golden Spike Awards and Best of Show, which is Utah’s top PR industry award.
“I believe UVU winning the chapter of the year means that the students involved with the club at UVU are able to compete with students from schools all around the nation in the job field once they graduate,” Mendoza said.
PRSSA has more than 11,000 students and advisors that make up the more than 300 chapters in the United States.