The real world of PR: UVU chapter of PRSSA visits Washington, D.C.


Stephen Whyte, Public Relations professor, left, enjoys our nation’s Capitol with the UVU chapter of PRSSA. Photo courtesy of PRSSA

Most students work tirelessly throughout the school year to get good grades, create good contacts, find the perfect internship and get the hands-on experience that will land them their dream job upon graduation.

Last week, the National PRSSA conference was held in Washington, D.C. and 15 public relations students had the opportunity to represent this school at the annual conference.

As a push for engaged learning is integrated into each major, the university works hard to provide opportunities like this one to many students. This trip was made possible through the combined efforts of the Office of Student Involvement, the Communications department and the students who attended.

During the conference, the UVU chapter of PRSSA was honored with the prestigious Star Chapter award, being one of only seven universities in the nation to receive this award.

Though this PRSSA chapter is very new,  founded in the fall of 2009, the winning of the Star Chapter award is an indication of all the hard work that has been put in by professors, advisors, chairs and students over several years to build up the PR program here.

During the conference, the students were able to attend various workshops and classes taught by the top PR professionals in the nation, and for these students, having the opportunity to make these connections may prove pivotal in their futures.

“Because of some of the people these students have met, it could literally change the direction of their future careers,” said PR professor Stephen Whyte. “It could also open up brand-new doors of opportunity for them. It’s really applying what they have learned in the classroom with real world connections and real world professionals.”

While in D.C., the students also had the opportunity to meet with some reputable organizations, including going on a private tour and meeting in the Pentagon with the Rear Admiral responsible for the entire PR program of the U.S. Navy around the world, according to Whyte.

“The highlight for me was seeing our PR students know that they can go out and compete with the very best of the best,” Whyte said. “Our PR students can go out there and be successful in whatever PR field they want to go into.”

For students in nearly every major, having the opportunity to see professionals in their field hard at work provides students with a new perspective and target for their goals. Yet, at times, it’s those we associate with on a daily basis that prove to be our most valuable connections.

“The most valuable thing gained [from this trip] was the bonds that were formed between all the students that went,” said Ryan Oaks, PRSSA VP of Service/Fundraising. “I think we would do just about anything for each other now. As far as our careers go, we will be really good contacts for each other for the rest of our lives.”

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