Coming into college, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had attended small schools my entire life, and Ohio University was an unknown place with many unknown people. In the months leading up to my freshman year, I questioned whether I would really find a home in Athens, Ohio. I’d never been away from my family for more than a week. On the other hand, I was excited about the possibilities, and in true Scripps kid fashion, I diligently researched how I could get involved once I was on campus.
My research led me to none other than the Scripps PRSSA website. At the time, I really didn’t even understand what PR was – I was still a news and info kid, but that didn’t last long. Despite my ignorance, everything I read clicked with me. I knew PRSSA made sense for me academically, but I had no idea everything else this organization would bring me in the years to come.
Freshman year was spent religiously attending meetings with friends I had met in my learning community. We sat in the middle of the room, inconspicuously soaking up all of the knowledge shared by every professional that came in. The executive board amazed me so much that I was a little intimidated by them – silly, I know. I grew closer with the other students that filled up Scripps 111 each week and was inspired by their drive and dedication, a theme that would prove itself again and again.
By the next year, I felt a little wiser. I joined ImPRessions and went to Nashville for a regional conference with the “Sophomore Stunnas,” all the while learning more about the future career I’d have. Junior year quickly came. By then, my relatives had stopped asking, “What does your major do again?” but instead checked in by asking what I was doing with that organization I couldn’t stop talking about.
Scripps PRSSA took me to Cleveland, Columbus, Nashville, New York City, Indianapolis and Cleveland (again). In each of these places, my interest in PR grew exponentially, but it was what happened in small-town Athens that kept me coming back. Every Monday meeting taught me something new. Every conversation I had with my mentees was a learning experience for both of us. Our annual Thanksgiving dinners, Pumpkin Carving and PR Bootcamps showed me that I’d found a group that was curious, compassionate and creative, and would push me to be the same way.
For some, Monday meetings are enough. Sure, you’ll get a better idea of what a career in public relations will involve, you’ll gain some Twitter followers from our relentless live tweeting, but what you put into PRSSA comes back to you tenfold. If you make time for this organization, it will teach you lessons, give you the wildest opportunities and introduce you to lifelong friends. I came to OU unsure of what the next four years would bring, but somewhere in between the wide-eyed freshman at the involvement fair to attending eboard meetings every week with my best friends, I found a home both in Athens and with PRSSA. For that, I’ll be forever thankful.
Emily Barber is a senior Strategic Communication major and the VP of External Relations for Scripps PRSSA. This is the first of many senior goodbye blog posts. Give her a loving hug when you see her and follow her on Twitter @EmilyBarbershop!