Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass PRSSA becomes nationally recognized chapter

The University of Massachusetts Public Relations Student Society of America is a chapter for students interested in public relations and communications
Shilpa Sweth
Daily Collegian (2023)

Previously known as the Public Relations club, the University of Massachusetts Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) recently became a national chapter.

Providing resources such as career fairs, networking and professional experience, PRSSA serves as a community for students with similar interests by highlighting their creativity in the field.

Ava Aldrich, a junior journalism major with a public relations concentration, has been involved for three years and will be the chapter’s president next year.

“Because we’re now a chapter, we can offer members a lot of things that we couldn’t before, such as exclusive job opportunities like career fairs,” Aldrich said.

“Our mission is pretty much the same as it’s always been but now we can do all this cool stuff.”

Aldrich said that the chapter’s mission is to give people firsthand experience in the field that they might not be getting in their classrooms.

As secretary, Aldrich said she enjoyed designing and sending out all the PRSSA emails. “I started to do graphics and stuff for [PRSSA] and included pictures of the club and the membership,” she said. “So that was my main project this past year.”

Shermarie Hyppolite, a senior communication and journalism double major with a concentration in public relations is the PR director of the UMass PRSSA chapter.

Hyppolite has been a part of the club since her sophomore year in 2020 and PR director since her junior year.

She said that the PRSSA chapter is an organization that’s focused on creating a community for people interested in public relations.

“Our mission is we want to build a good community here on campus for people interested in PR,” Hyppolite said. “And we want to be able to provide them with resources so they can build their resumes and work experience before they graduate.”

Now as an official chapter, Hyppolite said that the group hosts different events and workshops, along with inviting guest speakers to talk about their careers.

Recently, Michael Kaye, the communications director for the OkCupid dating app, spoke with the chapter where he talked about salary negotiation throughout his career, according to Hyppolite.

Aside from the event with Kaye, the chapter also held workshops on formatting a resume, preparing for an interview, using Canva and taking headshots for LinkedIn, said Hyppolite. In addition, the chapter held a diversity and inclusion meeting.

Within her role as public relations director, Hyppolite creates all of PRSSA’s social media posts for PRSSA on Instagram and Twitter and manages the website on her own. In addition, Hyppolite said that she works to create connections with other clubs.

“In the past, I attended an event that the Collegian had where they were trying to improve their relationships with other clubs,” she said. “I’ve also volunteered a lot of time to improve our relationship as an organization with the department.”

Alana Zeilander, a senior journalism major with a PR concentration, was the president of PRSSA for the past two years and has been involved in the club since 2019.

Zeilander said it was a “very rigorous process” of creating a PRSSA chapter, where the group had to register as a student organization, and then apply for the chapter.

According to Zeilander, there were originally five students in the PR Club her freshman year and throughout the pandemic, but the group “persevered” to get to where they are now.

“Even though we’re a PRSSA chapter now, I think it’s important to highlight how far we’ve come,” Zeilander said. “Especially in the last semester of my senior year, I’m just so proud of reaching this goal we’ve had since the beginning. I’m just so proud of everyone that has had a part in it.”

The chapter holds meetings twice a month and Zeilander said that the group has “really tried” to help students secure more internship opportunities through workshops, guest speakers and peer learning.

For next year, Aldrich said that she wants to create more opportunities for involvement within the club.

“It’s a little bit harder for our general members right now to feel that sense of community,” Aldrich said. “And I want them to participate.”

Aldrich said that the most rewarding part of the chapter is making long-lasting friendships.

“We all carry ourselves to some degree of professionalism, but we also like to have a lot of fun,” she said. “I want people to know that.”

Sarah Yi can be reached at [email protected].

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