UVU supports engaged learning for students

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Public Relations students attended a PRSSA conference in Orlando, FL.

UVU is continuing to create hands-on learning by giving students engaged learning opportunities, occurring when students are able to actively participate in the learning process. It is one focus which sets UVU apart from other universities. The communications program, including the Public Relations Student Society of America, especially focuses on engaged learning.


PRSSA is a nationwide pre-professional organization comprised of 300 universities with more than 10,000 public relations students. UVU’s PR program in the Communication Department is quickly becoming a nationally recognized chapter of the PRSSA.


From Oct. 13 – 19, the PRSSA attended an annual conference held in Washington, D.C. last year and in Orlando, Florida, this year. Assistant professor and PRSSA faculty advisor Stephen L. Whyte went on the trip for the Communication Department.


“Attending the National PRSSA Conference provided a once-in-a-lifetime engaged learning opportunity for UVU’s PR students,” Whyte said.


Whyte explained the benefit of connecting classroom research and learning with the real world industry.


“Doors were further opened for internship opportunities and career placement and the national reputation of UVU’s Communication Department was further elevated,” Whyte said.


Vanessa Perkins is a UVU PR student and serves as the National Vice President, one of eight positions in the National PRSSA presidency. She helped plan the conference and conducted the workshop sessions.


Perkins and 17 other UVU PR students attended the National PRSSA Conference in Orlando.  The conference was subsidized by the school, so each student paid just $500 to participate.


There were many big names at the conference including Craig Dezern, Vice President of Global Public Relations for Disney Destinations, a $10 billion family vacation business. Another speaker was Soledad O’Brien, an anchor and special correspondent for CNN.


Jonathon Howard appreciated the opportunity to associate with these big-name professionals.


“This experience has been so valuable to me because it gave me access to the professionals that are actively working in the industry,” Howard said.


The students were encouraged to talk with these people before and after seminars to make connections and further learn about their job and industry. John Anderson was another  student who participated in and felt inspired by the conference.


“Attending the 2011 PRSSA National Conference has been the highlight of my undergraduate endeavor at UVU,” Anderson said. “The conference inspired me to plan and seek an internship with a tourism PR emphasis.  The conference inspired me to be well traveled in the world, well read, and to become a better communicator.”


Sarah Griener said she also enjoyed the learning experience and networking opportunities in Orlando.


“The PRSSA National Conference . . . is an experience that I will value both personally and professionally for years to come,” Griener said.


This year only 12 awards were presented to the 300 participating universities, and UVU’s PRSSA Chapter received the prestigious Star Chapter Award. This is the second consecutive year UVU has received it.


*Vanessa Perkins is currently the News Editor for the UVU Review.


By Tiffany Thatcher
Asst. News Editor