Kent State Public Relations Students Earn National Recognition

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) awarded the Kent State Chapter (PRSSA Kent) the highest national honors for a chapter as well as for a student leader this month.

PRSSA named Kent State University the winner of the 2019 Outstanding Chapter Award at its International Conference in San Diego, Calif. Public relations major Vanessa Gresley, PRSSA Kent’s vice president of professional relations, earned the Gold Key Award, the highest PRSSA honor for students.

PRSSA is a national pre-professional organization for students interested in public relations and communications. It presents the Outstanding Chapter Award to one of 300 plus chapters each year, recognizing leadership at the national level, strong relationships with PRSSA members, alumni and PRSA, and successful programming and fundraising and other activities.



PRSSA Kent officers submitted an application in June to be considered for the award. The application highlighted the chapter’s 50th Anniversary celebration, bi-weekly meetings with communication professionals, mentoring program, fundraising success, newsletter, website and social media channels and included an evaluation of the chapter’s objectives and letters of recommendation.

“As a chapter, we have put in a lot of work over the past year to be the best we can be, and it paid off,” Sophia Iannelli, PRSSA Kent’s President, said. “I am so lucky to be able to lead such an amazing group, and I speak for the whole chapter, past and present, when I say I am beyond grateful for this recognition.”

Seven PRSSA Kent members, along with Kent State Associate Professor and PRSSA Faculty Adviser Michele Ewing and Assistant Professor Cheryl Ann Lambert, attended the PRSSA International Conference in late October.

“Since PRSSA Kent celebrated its 50th Anniversary last year, it’s really meaningful for the students and alumni to earn this honor,” Ewing said. “Generations of PRSSA Kent leaders have invested numerous hours in planning programs, peer mentoring, service projects, fundraisers and other outreach activities. These student leaders are committed to raising the bar each year – and their dedicated efforts led to earning national recognition. It’s well deserved.”

Along with a plaque of recognition for the award, PRSSA Kent was awarded $500 to support professional development opportunities for members. During the past 15 years, PRSSA Kent has won nine Teahan awards, including the Outstanding Chapter Award at the 2014 National Conference in Washington D.C. Other Teahan honors recognized excellence in University service, website design, relationship with its parent chapter, the Akron Area Chapter of PRSA, and faculty advising.

The Gold Key Award is the highest honor for a PRSSA member and recognizes students who demonstrate excellence in academics and leadership.

“I feel honored to receive this award,” said Gresley, the Gold Key Award winner. “PRSSA has made me into the leader I am today through the countless opportunities for growth and involvement. As cliché as it sounds, I've never thought of myself as a leader, but this organization has helped me find my potential and push me beyond that. It feels good to be recognized for all my hard work, and it's all possible because of the support of the outstanding organization I am a part of."

Learn more about Kent State's public relations program

POSTED: Wednesday, October 30, 2019 01:40 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 09:21 AM
Jill Golden, '20