May 3, 2030
SHSU Media Contact: Jackie Swan
The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) recently held an election for its 2020-2021 National Committee. One of SHSU’s own, senior Kathryn Belanger, was chosen as Vice President of Digital Communications.
PRSSA includes nearly 10,000 student members and advisers and has chapters at nearly 375 colleges and university campuses throughout the United States, Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Puerto Rico.
Kathryn (Katy) Belanger is a senior majoring in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations & Advertising and minor in Graphic Design. She participated in a Q&A session to illustrate the process of being a student leader on campus and the anticipation of taking her leadership skills to a national level.
Q: How long have you been a member of PRSSA at SHSU and did you hold any leadership roles?
KB: I have been a member of PRSSA at SHSU since October 2018. Since then, I have held the Vice President of Public Relations for [three] semesters and was just elected our Vice President before spring break. (I will have to resign this position because of new national position). I also was the PRSSA Southwest District Ambassador and a member of the National Social Media Subcommittee for the 2019-2020 school year.
Q: Tell us a bit about the election process- what was it like for you?
KB: So, the election process looked much different than years past. Being on the Social Media Subcommittee this past year has allowed me to work with the current VP of Digital Communications. She supported me in running for this position. The first step was submitting an application that was reviewed by PRSSA headquarters. Originally, we were supposed to present a speech and Q&A at a PRSSA event in April called Leadership Assembly, where one delegate from each chapter votes on the committee. The current outbreak of Coronavirus changed that process this year. With this event being canceled, the elections went totally virtual. I submitted a 5-minute speech and then the delegates had the option to review my application and speech, and from there they could submit any questions they had for me. The next process was my Q&A. This was a recorded zoom call with the current national committee where they asked the delegate questions, as well as any questions they had. This video was submitted to the delegates and then they voted virtually. From there, I learned I was elected through an email and two days later it was announced publicly.
Q: Is there anything you would like to note about your experience with PRSSA (people, moments, projects, etc. that made an impact)?
KB: I honestly do not know where I would be if I had not joined PRSSA. I think a college education is so valuable, but we also pay for the experience, and sometimes I think students lack the motivation to join and get involved with organizations on campus. I had randomly switched my major to public relations from broadcasting and was unsure if this was the right route. My advisor mentioned PRSSA as a way to learn more. When I attended, I was hooked. I knew this was what I wanted to spend my career doing. Not only have I learned so much through the learning benefits PRSSA has to offer, but I also have met some of my best friends from it. We’re an organization of more than 10,000 students internationally, [so] the network a student builds is insane. I have also learned how to be a leader and how to interact with our students on campus. PRSSA has been so beneficial because I get to utilize the learning in my classes into an organization that is giving me hands-on experience. I truly believe I am more confident to graduate and enter the workplace because of the experience and relationships I have created from PRSSA, both from the SHSU chapter and the society as a whole
Q: What duties do you anticipate with your new title as National VP of Digital Communications?
KB: The role of vice president of digital communications is to promote and manage recognition of PRSSA as a credible, professional organization, and to manage the flow of information from PRSSA nationally to all its internal and external publics through digital channels. Specific duties include, but are not limited to, the following: managing and promoting PRSSA Style Guide and PRSSA Brand Identity Guidelines and managing PRSSA social media and the monthly update.
Q: What would you recommend to current students looking to follow in your footsteps?
KB: My biggest advice is to never stop learning and challenging yourself. I truly believe one learns the most in uncomfortable situations. I originally told myself I was not going to run, even though everyone was encouraging me to. It wasn’t until one of my fellow executive members at SHSU PRSSA told me to be selfish for once- that made me run. She reminded me that this is my last year in college, and I needed to do what is going to make me happy, challenge me the most, and look the best to employers. I knew she was right. I was telling myself every reason to say no, but the one reason to say yes was the deciding factor. So, believe in yourself, and surround yourself with a strong support system who can help you make decisions unbiasedly. If you have goals to get somewhere, set them, review them, and accomplish them. I truly believe I am where I am today because of the passion I bring to the table in PRSSA, but also in PR as a profession. Passion and drive will take you places, so utilize it.