by Cindy Deng
After a nauseating flight, I stepped off the plane, rushed to the shuttle exit, dropped my bags and took in a deep breath of the warm, tropical breeze. I had finally arrived in Charleston, North Carolina, for PRSSA National Assembly!
National Assembly gives PRSSA members a chance to participate in leadership workshops, vote on National bylaws and elect the following year’s National Committee.
From March 13-16, I attended National Assembly as a Kent State University delegate. This was my second trip to National Assembly as a PRSSA Kent member. This, specific, PRSSA National event is the reason why I’ve come to love PRSSA.
But this year was different for me. I chose to run for Vice President of Chapter Development for the 2014-2015 National Committee.
I chose to run for the position mainly because of my experience in helping grow and develop PRSSA Kent for the past three years as a member, officer and president. Candidates were not allowed to campaign for their candidacy, but are required to deliver a five-minute speech to more than 100 delegates from more than 300 Chapters across the nation, as well as to non-delegates and the 2013-14 National Committee. Was it scary? Absolutely! My knees were shaking and my palms were sweating the entire time!
The not-so-fun part of being a delegate is that elections can run more than 10 hours, including a parliamentary motion for a FEW bathroom breaks and one lunch break. Breaks can only be motioned after each position has been filled. We motioned for bathroom breaks after every two position, which meant I only had about three bathroom breaks throughout the election process. If all you’ve been drinking the entire time is water and coffee, I guarantee you’re going to want to use the bathroom every hour. And to top it all off, social media is not allowed by anyone during the elections. We were deprived! I can almost guarantee #PRProbs was quickly trending at National Assembly after the elections were over.
Unfortunately, I did not win the position. Paige Weber, Chapter president of Louisiana State University, was my running mate and won. Paige, Mallory Richardson (PRSSA National Publications Editor-in-Chief) and their LSU Chapter are excellent PRSSA examples and resources. In the short amount of time I’ve spent at National Assembly, they have become some of my closet PRSSA friends, and I’ve certainly learned a lot from them.
Other than the elections, this year’s experience was no different from last year’s, but the content was new and refreshing.
Guest and keynote speakers from this year’s assembly were Ben Brown and Jeff Tobler, representatives from the Warner Bros. Television (who also hosted the Day-Of Competition); Joe Clarkson, former PRSSA National Vice President of Internships and Job Services and Ohio Northern University alum; Fred Cook, CEO of GolinHarris International; and John Deveney, founder and president of Deveney Communications.
One key message from Cook that I took away was “stop worrying so much and try new things…courage is built by experience.” Even as a public relations student and PRSSA leader, confidence doesn’t come naturally to me. I came into the public relations program blindly my freshman year. I knew I wanted to pursue a journalism degree, but wanted to do more than just reporting for the news. A part of me feared that if I didn’t choose a path outside of journalism, I would be missing out on other skills that I haven’t tried and may be actually good at.
If Michele Ewing, PRSSA Kent adviser, hadn’t encouraged me to attend a PRSSA Kent meeting and participate in on activities, I would have likely become an undecided major. Since my second semester freshman year, I’ve been heavily involved and attended numerous PRSSA National events that have developed me into the young professional I am today.