Senior Farewell – Haley Bender

The photos you see above are some of my favorite photos I’ve ever had. What you see in these photos is pure happiness and genuine friendship. 

I joined PRSSA because I had discovered the Scripps PRSSA twitter account as a highschool senior. I knew I was going to be a strategic communication major, and I was already planning what student organizations I wanted to be in because I am a planner. I found Scripps PRSSA’s social media, and I immediately knew that it was something I wanted to be a part of. A group of the best strategic communication students working hard to learn and grow professionally while lifting each other up in the process. 

When I arrived at OU, eager to make the most of my time at college, I was saddened to learn that none of my learning community members would be attending the first Scripps PRSSA meeting of the year. I decided to go anyways, even if I did have to sit alone. I walked into the Friends of the Library room and was met with an energy that I have still only found at Scripps PRSSA events: excitement, passion and joy. Even though I came to the meeting by myself, I didn’t feel alone. Looking back, I could feel deep down that these people would become very important to me. 

Scripps PRSSA helped me get my first internship at the Ohio State Fair and gave me the confidence to move to Columbus, Ohio for the summer and take on big projects that I knew nothing about. It helped me start Sophomore year excited to be back with friends and even more excited for my first PRSSA National Conference in Austin, Texas in October. National Conference is where I became close with people I now call my best friends, and my love for the organization grew even more. 

Fast forward to the end of sophomore year, I will never forget when I first texted my beloved mentor, Emily O’Flynn, that I had gotten my dream internship at Sephora. She immediately called me to congratulate me and tell me how happy and proud she was. I think I did a good job of hiding the fact that this made me tear up with happiness. I never would have thought that small town, shy girl Haley Bender would end up in San Francisco living her dream. I could have never accomplished that without Scripps PRSSA and the confidence my friends, mentors and speakers within the organization have given me. 

I always knew my college experience would be three short chapters instead of four. What I didn’t know is how much it would hurt to leave. What I REALLY didn’t know is that COVID-19 would take away the events and days I was looking forward to the most. I’m not sure that I will ever stop mourning our final fest season, days on the Jackie O’s patio, last liquor pitchers, last slice night, senior send off, crying endlessly with my very best friends, saying goodbye to professors, sitting in Schoonover lobby for the last time, or graduation. My heart hurts knowing I didn’t get to say goodbye to everyone. 

If there is anything I want you to learn from this, it is to take every second of every day of your time at OHIO and try to savor it. Go to that meeting you thought about skipping because you’re tired. Go to slice night even if you are feeling overwhelmed with homework. Sit on college green and just take it all in. The moments I am most thankful for are ones like these, not the ones where I am sitting in my room stressing over my five year plan. 

Thank you Scripps PRSSA. Thank you for the memories, the knowledge, the connections, the encouragement and the lifelong friends. I can’t wait to see you (in person) again soon. As the wise Jonas Brothers once sang, “We were up-and-down and barely made it over, but I’d go back and ride that roller coaster with you.” 

Haley Bender is a graduating senior and served as the VP of External Affairs for the 2019-2020 academic year. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

We thank Haley for her contributions to the Chapter and wish her well in her future endeavors!

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