While at the EA we heard about University programs big (Oklahoma University) and small (Albright College), those with graduate programs and those who are at the top for e-learning (West Virginia). The best connection I made was with Elizabeth Kerns from Central Washington University. Like ours, their PR program lives in a mid-sized state school with a young PRSSA chapter. The biggest similarity between our PR programs is the geographical challenge that forces us to teach creatively about an industry that in the students’ minds seems so far away; conceptually and geographically.
Like SUNY - Plattsburgh, students at CWU must travel at least two-hours for the nearest PRSA chapter face-to-face interaction. Coming most recently from Milwaukee, Wis. I took for granted the number of agencies available for internships, class projects and learning opportunities. Agencies, non-profits and corporate public relations offices in Southeastern Wisconsin are nearly as easy to find as Green Bay Packers fans. The professional adviser could pop-in to class presentations on her lunch break. Students could attend the luncheons and round table PRSA sessions without missing class or costing them their lunch money in gas. Cinderella's lyrics, "You don't know what you got until it's gone" played in my mind while Dr. Bonita Neff talked about the $13,000 student senate grants and up to $50,000 budgets their PRSSA student agencies receive from near-by clients to run campaigns.
Instead of becoming downtrodden, I looked over to my new-found PR geek comrade Liz and we began devising a plan. An integral part of the future success of our programs will be to build and strengthen the current relationships with our parent chapter. Our student chapter is working hard at moving beyond establishing policy and procedure into developing strategy and implementation. A major goal is to strengthen our relationships with Capital Region professionals. We are grateful for the support and are eager to share our ideas with any Capital Region member.