By Katie Pavelick
Bob Truscello, the first PRSSA Kent president, accepts the Chapter's charter certification in April of 1968
The Founding Chapter
In November 1967, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) was established at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Assembly in Philadelphia. The parent organization chartered the first nine Chapters in April of 1968. That following September, Kent State University received its charter, making PRSSA Kent the 13th Chapter. Today, PRSSA Kent is one of 14 Alpha Chapters that lead the organization to what it is today.
The idea to form a Kent State chapter originated from the Cleveland PRSA Chapter. The parent organization wanted to form a PRSSA Chapter and felt that Kent State was a perfect place to start.
“The Cleveland PRSA Chapter gave a lot of guidance and support to start the Chapter.” Said Bob Truscello, a founding member and first president of PRSSA Kent. Truscello worked with then Cleveland PRSA president Al Connors, other Cleveland professionals and a small group of students to gain Kent State’s charter.
Truscello was approached by professor Richard Scheiber and asked to help form the student organization. “We were small but mighty. We were 6 strong - recruited by Schreiber. We first worked on developing the Chapter,” Truscello recalls.
After approval from the Kent’s Student Activities Board, the organization submitted a request to charter the KSU Chapter.
While waiting approval, professor Shreiber stated, “PRSSA is open to all PR majors and minors. Membership will be a professional head-start for those students who are actively interested in the field.”
When the Chapter was approved, PRSSA Kent had 20 members. “I wanted to broaden my leadership and my resume. It was natural to join PRSSA and start it,” Truscello said.
Leading the organization were professors Richard Shreiber and Ralph Darrow who served as the Chapters first faculty advisers.
The Start of National Conference and Programming
During PRSSA Kent’s first year, students were able to attend the PRSA National Convention and were welcomed with open arms by the parent organization. Today, PRSSA continues to send students to conferences and assemblies across the country.
“Going off to Conference was a big deal for me. I was honored to be able to represent the Chapter,” Truscello said.
The organization then worked with the Akron Chapter to bring in speakers and network with professionals in the area. PRSSA continued to have a relationship with Akron PRSSA and continues to learn from professionals across the country.
Bob Truscello went on to work for General Electric in their communications and human resources departments. “What’s really neat about pursuing a PR degree is that it’s the kind of skill that is a take-off point. You can pursue many types of fields with a public relations degree,” he stated.
The first PRSSA President Bob Truscello shared insight about his experiences founding the Chapter, and the mentoring figures who guided him. One of which was Ralph C. Darrow.
Darrow was a PRKent professor who served as the first faculty adviser of PRSSA Kent from 1968 to 1988. The PRSSA Kent board meetings are called "Darrow meeting" in honor of Professor Darrow who left a meaningful impact on PRSSA, and especially on Truscello.
"He was extremely supportive of me. He was always rooting for me and caring for me," Truscello said. "He's the kind of advisor and professor who made PRSSA Kent what it is today. I can't explain how important it is to have someone like him in your corner. To have someone correct you, but still trust you and love you."
We asked our current members, alumni and professors to share their best PRSSA Kent memories or advice. Here’s what they said:
"PRSSA Kent impacted my higher education experience at Kent State. I was a student who struggled to find community in college and PRSSA provided a space that allowed me to connect with other students and professionals that helped me get to where I am today."
-Brenna Parker, Digital Strategist for Michelle Obama's When We All Vote campaign, PRSSA ‘17
"PRSSA gave me great experience to talk about in interviews. I felt prepared to interview, network and talk about my skill set with a great portfolio to back that up thanks to PRSSA preparing me!"
-Erin Zaranec, Campaign Manager, Student Series at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, PRSSA ‘17
"PRSSA Kent gave me a great glimpse into the professional world and what to expect once I graduated. Attending conferences and meeting professionals gave me a huge leg up when applying for jobs."
-Gabrielle Woodard, Strategic Communications Representative at Northrop Grumman, PRSSA ‘17
"PRSSA Kent strived to provide students with opportunities to connect with professionals. Whether it was through the Communications Connections event, YouToo Social Media Conference or even having alum present during a class, the access to industry professionals was always a priority."
-Aubrey Stenzel, Account Supervisor, Marcus Thomas LLC, PRSSA Kent ‘11
When the KSU Chapter was formed, PRSSA had 264 students and 27 faculty. Today the organization is made up of more than 10,000 students and advisors.
Over the past 50 years, Kent State’s PRSSA Chapter has helped shape the career of many professionals. Many alumni from across the country owe their career to the student organization. The Chapter continues to challenge the minds of future communicators and leaders. Though the public relations industry has changed over the years, Kent State’s PRSSA Chapter will continue to be a leader for years to come.