By Nikki Vergakes, Chapter President
On Monday, April 24, Salem State University recognized its student leaders at the “Student Leadership Awards.” There, individual student leaders, as well as groups, were recognized for their tireless work. Assistant Director of Student Involvement Melissa Arroyo stated, “it was an amazing year for student leadership”, and so it was. Students performed peaceful protests, traveled to places such as Tennessee, Texas, Indiana and Washington D.C, they hosted conferences, put on performances and participated in many marches. Not only was it a great year for student leadership on SSU’s campus, but it was also a productive year of growth for our chapter.
Over the past four years that I have been a part of Salem State University PRSSA, every year has been different. Membership has fluctuated quite a bit. Through the ups and downs, however, my passion for the organization has not quivered. I would even say that my love and passion for the group even grew during the tough times. Whether we had two or 20 members at one meeting, our goals stayed the same – to provide quality professional development and industry knowledge to our members.
There has been overwhelming support from the ever-dedicated executive board, upcoming executive board and true blue general body members. This group has so much potential to grow on an SSU and PRSSA National level and the grit, power and “spunk” is there. If only I could be a fly on the wall next year to proudly oversee the new board and members that I know they will recruit flourish. I’m only a phone call away.
Our chapter did two things that it had never done before this year. Our chapter always comes back from National Conference with bright eyes and driven hearts after hearing about all the exciting initiatives other chapters put on. After the first National Conference that myself, Rajira, Dominique and Lizzy went to in Atlanta in 2015, we knew we wanted more. Us and the current president Karoline brainstormed some ideas and figured that if we didn’t have the resources to host a Regional Conference, we would host a New England area “meetup”. That’s how the meeting of the minds behind Mass Chapter Meetup began.
We spent this entire year working tirelessly to make a name for us and PRSSA on the SSU campus for when we graduated. Yes, to Dr. Brown’s dismay, ALL SIX OF US on the e-board are graduating seniors. We definitely went out of our comfort zone. We hosted a panel with pollsters and politicians on political campaigning, trekked up to Burlington, VT to tour the Ben & Jerry’s headquarters, hosted a resume workshop, traveled to Seattle and Indianapolis to represent our chapter, scrounged all our professional contacts together for Mass Chapter Meetup and drank too much Starbucks coffee. All of the group chat messages, trips to the SGA office, emails and more were made worth it on Monday, April 24th.
The last time the Salem State Chapter of PRSSA won a Student Leadership Award was 2014. That time, it was our trusted advisor Dr. Brown winning “Advisor of the Year”. The last time that our chapter won the McILraith Award for Academic Affiliation was in 2010. Our chapter brought back the honor again this year again on Monday, April 24th. Now we can proudly say that the most recent win of this prestigious award was in 2017.
This award is given through Salem State University for student organizations that are very involved in their academic department. PRSSA won because of their outstanding efforts in the 2017-2018 academic year. Not only did we recruit and double our numbers while grooming a new incoming executive board, but we also continued to provide professional networking and developing opportunities for our members.
As a goal for being Chapter President this year, I wanted PRSSA to make its mark. I wanted it to be remembered. By winning this award and attending PRSSA General Assembly in Seattle, I can say that PRSSA stands among the larger groups on SSU’s campus, and the larger chapters in PRSSA National. The Communications department boasts PRSSA as the most active Communications group proudly. Thank you to the amazing e-board members, PRSSA National SSU Admin and SGA and advisors who have helped us get here!