At 4:30 a.m. one Thursday morning I started a journey that would be one of the best of my life, though I did not know it quite yet. I was headed to Austin, Texas for what I thought was a few days of workshops and speakers. Little did I know, I would experience so much more than that during the PRSSA National Assembly.
Assembly really started for me in my hotel room. We managed to get there about six hours early, so I got a chance to hang out and catch up on homework. However, I was more focused on who my roommates would be. I had no idea who they were. Would they be obnoxious? What about boring, or smelly? There was no way of knowing. All my concerns dissipated though as soon as they walked into the room. Jon Kovach Jr. and Andrew Cook both give off so much positivity and enthusiasm that as soon as I saw their smiles I knew I would be okay. Before I knew it, I was meeting two other students from Kovach’s Utah Valley University, both with the same positivity and energy. I talked a little with Britnee Bromley-Nuehring and Alanna Cottam before heading to the Day-of Competition.
Now, if you ever want to stress out a group of PR students, have them come up with a PR campaign in one hour with poor Wi-Fi. That is exactly what we had to do for the Competition. Specifically, groups of about six had to come up with a yearlong communications strategy to promote a community event for the United States Tennis Association (USTA). After an hour of planning, each group had to then pitch their idea to the competition judges. While this may seem challenging, being surrounded by five other students who are passionate about public relations made the task so much easier. The competition provided experience and insight that none of my classes had given me. I was glad I participated even though my team did not win (shout out to Erica Everett, whose team did win and is photographed below).
The day was finished off by an opening dinner and a night spent exploring Sixth Street in Austin. I got the chance to meet more people, try new food (creme brûlée is the bomb), and bond with my roommates. It was a great start to an amazing weekend.
The second day of Assembly was a chance to discuss the dynamics PRSSA with other students and learn from professionals and PRSSA National Committee members. After breakfast at 7:45 a.m. (early, I know) we broke off into groups for officer training sessions. That is where we got to talk in depth with of PRSSA members about Chapter problems and solutions. The cool thing was, with over 90 chapters represented at Assembly it was almost assured that someone had a solution to your problem, and that you had a solution for someone else. That was one of the best parts of Assembly, being able to help other students solve problems within their Chapters. The day continued on with me bonding with new friends and the USF Chapter members who came to Austin with me. Going into the third day of Assembly, I figured I would have a more boring day watching part of the parliamentary Assembly process for choosing National Committee members and then exploring Austin. I was so wrong.
If you haven’t experienced the parliamentary process at Assembly, then you should know that it is much more interesting than it sounds. As a first-timer, the experience was a mind blowing way of learning the structure of PRSSA National. The process is more than just elections; it is a forum for leaders among leaders to discuss the roles of each National Committee position and the challenges facing not only facing those positions but the organization as a whole. Diversity, chapter development and others issues were examined in-depth, opening my eyes to a larger world I did not realize I was a part of. After the first few elections, I was hooked. I watched both my roommates run for positions and win. Watching Kovach, Cook and others put their passion on display was inspiring. Nothing is better than seeing people who care deeply for an organization you are apart of gain the power to make it even better. I know I can count on every single person who won a National Committee position. No one proved that to me more than Nicole Price, who nearly made me cry when she heard that she had won Vice President of Regional Conferences.
Once the parliamentary process was over, Assembly began to come to a close. However, my trip did not. I spent that Saturday night bonding with PRSSA members from all over the country. Before that weekend, I never thought it would be possible to stay up till 3 a.m. talking about my passions with people I had known for less than a couple days. And yet, that is exactly what I did. I spent Sunday with those same people, turning connections into friendships that will last till graduation and beyond.
I went into this event wondering if it would be worth the money. I left Assembly wishing National Conference would arrive sooner rather than later. I can honestly say that going to National Assembly was one of the best decisions of my life. If you are a PRSSA member and you are wondering if you should go to Assembly or Conference, do it. If you make the most of the experience, then it can be one of the best experiences of your life.
Written by Michael Mezich