PRSSA looks to revive organization after receiving awards

Raquel Tuohy

Dr. Sara Steffes-Hansen receives her faculty adviser of the year award with PRSSA members. Steffes-Hansen was the only faculty adviser in the nation to receive this award.
[/media-credit] Dr. Sara Steffes-Hansen receives her faculty adviser of the year award with PRSSA members. Steffes-Hansen was the only faculty adviser in the nation to receive this award.

After recently winning two awards at the national conference, the Dr. Julie Henderson chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America at UW Oshkosh is looking to take their club in a new direction this year.

The club was at national conference from Oct. 21-26 in Indianapolis where they spent the long weekend networking with over 3,000 pre and established professionals in their field.

PRSSA President Katie Biersach said she will take what she learned at conference and apply it to her chapter.

“National conference is always a fun time,” Biersach said. “You get to meet other chapters from around the country and network with professionals. It’s a great experience for anyone interested in public relations to come and learn what the field is all about.”

PRSSA Vice President of Public Relations Monica Salmeri said what stood out to her at conference this year were the speakers.
“I’m glad the people who spoke at conference weren’t just talking about what it means to have a good career,” Salmeri said. “They picked speakers who taught us how to be a good person, like David Grossman.”
While at conference, PRSSA won the Star Chapter award, a distinctive honor only given to chapters who meet certain requirements, one being high school outreach.

PRSSA Vice President of Events Carissa Brzezinski said the Star Chapter award means a lot to the organization.

“It’s an award that few universities get every year, and I am so proud that Oshkosh is one of them,” Brzezinski said.

In addition to the Star Chapter award, Dr. Sara Steffes-Hansen won the Dr. Frederick H. Teahan Chapter Award for Outstanding Faculty Adviser of the Year award.

The award also comes with a $200 prize that Steffes-Hansen plans to put back into the PRSSA fund for the end of the semester banquet.

The extensive process to nominate Steffes-Hansen began last spring when the Chapter submitted a four-page summary detailing her positive effect on PRSSA, five letters of recommendations from students and colleagues as well as a detailed explanation regarding her contribution to furthering public relations education.

The award for Steffes-Hansen was presented on Oct. 24 at the PRSSA “Circle City Celebration” ceremony in Indianapolis. She is the only person in the nation to win the faculty adviser award this year.

Steffes-Hansen said she didn’t think she would win the national award in the first year of being faculty adviser for PRSSA.

Salmeri said Steffes-Hansen is more than deserving of the award.

“It shows how great and sacrificing she is,” Salmeri said. “She is always there to help the organization and we couldn’t ask for a better adviser.”

UWO Public Relations professor Jean Giovanetti said the award Steffes-Hansen received highlights the work she’s done as a professor and adviser.

“Dr. Hansen’s award is a wonderful acknowledgement of her dedication as well as the strong support she receives from the entire UWO journalism department,” Giovanetti said.

Steffes-Hansen said the award helps recognize the achievements of the students, faculty and the journalism department.

“It reinforces the idea that all the time and effort we put into making this program great is validated,” Steffes-Hansen said. “It makes us proud and ready to take on more. [We are] ready to be more bold and take on more opportunities and challenges.”

After coming back from conference, Salmeri said the awards are a motivator for the organization to do more in the community.

“We recently started a mentorship program that is in its early stages,” Salmeri said. “Each member of the executive board has a younger student that they can meet with and talk to them about public relations as well as other things.”

In addition to the mentorship program, Biersach said PRSSA is ready to implement new policies and procedures, including restructuring the executive board to add more positions after a stagnant year last year.

“I felt we weren’t being as efficient as we could be,” Biersach said. “We felt we could be taking on more responsibilities and doing more as an organization and the restructuring let us do that.”

Salmeri said in the future, she would like to see more students join PRSSA.

“We have a good group now, but we are always looking to grow as a chapter,” Salmeri said.

Steffes-Hansen said she would like to see the University’s public relations department expand along with PRSSA.

“That means getting the word out about the great job opportunities in public relations, it’s a growing field,” Steffes-Hansen said. “I would love to see students learn about public relations earlier so they could join PRSSA earlier and we could help them seize those opportunities earlier. I don’t know…the sky’s the limit.”