Connect, Enhance, Launch

Through the Public Relations Student Society of America, students can launch their public relations careers while at K-State 

Connect. Enhance. Launch. This is the threefold mission of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter at Kansas State University. PRSSA is a pre-professional society that offers students unique career preparation opportunities. Through a variety of professional development events, students get the opportunity to connect with industry professionals, enhance their education and launch their careers. Ultimately, the preparation provided by PRRSA sets students apart from other entry-level candidates when entering the workforce.

At the core of PRSSA are meetings that take place two to three times each month. The meetings include diverse presentations from industry professionals who play an active role in shaping the public relations (PR) landscape.

In addition to meetings, career tours and a job shadowing program create space for students to gain real-life exposure to public relations work. By traveling to different agencies and organizations, students are offered a glimpse of the daily life of PR professionals. Another resource for PRSSA members is the guidance of Dr. Danielle LaGree, faculty advisor for K-State PRSSA.

PRSA ICON is a conference that connects K-State students to both industry leaders and other students across the nation and throughout the world. Debra Peterson, APR, serves as the professional advisor for the K-State PRSSA chapter and is an alumna of the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Debra is involved with PRSA nationally and has served in many roles, including being elected national chair in 2019 and currently serves as the chair of the National Nominating Committee. This year, she generously funded the entire registration fee of multiple PRSSA executive board members to the virtual PRSA international conference.

Having worked for Fortune 500 companies throughout her career, Debra’s experiences assist students in networking and launching their own professional careers. Debra said that students’ involvement with PRSSA provides a great opportunity to learn, lead and network. Additionally, Debra attests to the benefits of transitioning to being a PRSA member after graduation. PRSA offers a variety of professional resources, including opportunities specifically for new professionals, such as association memberships and a New Professionals Section.

“I enjoy the opportunity to meet and help students as they transition from college to the work world,” said Debra. “My PRSA involvement also has provided me with a broad network, and my colleagues and I are always willing to help PRSSA members.”

Grayson Gilbert, senior, joined PRSSA during his freshman year. After one semester of involvement, Grayson began serving as a co-chair on the executive board and now is president of K-State PRSSA. Grayson has loved attending ICON and traveling to Kansas City for the 2020 Career Tours.

“The friendships I’ve made with my fellow exec members will last a lifetime, and my connections with past exec members have landed me two internships,” said Grayson. “Serving as president has been an incredible learning opportunity, and I’ve grown as a leader and person.”

The past three K-State PRSSA presidents have achieved the PRSSA National Gold Key award, the highest honor a PRSSA member can receive. With the investment of these presidents and other PRSSA members, PRSSA has substantially grown its offerings, earning Star Chapter status for three consecutive years. Less than 10% of the more than 300 PRSSA chapters have earned Star Chapter status for three consecutive years. Last year, the introduction of the job shadowing program allowed students to sign-up for shadowing days with local PR and communications professionals. A few of the organizations that got involved were K-State Athletics, Fort Riley Public Affairs Office, JNT Company and Flint Hills Discovery Center.

In the future, K-State PRSSA can continue to grow and support students through the introduction of scholarships. Attending one of PRSSA’s national conferences provides a unique opportunity to learn and network, but students spend anywhere between $500 and $1,000 on travel, boarding and registration fees. With funds raised, PRSSA will offer a semesterly scholarship to support one student’s registration fee to a professional development event. Additionally, smaller, equal allotments will support other members’ attendance to a designated event each semester. PRSSA also plans to implement a needs-based scholarship to cover the PRSSA membership dues for one student. Contributions will directly support the mission of PRSSA in enhancing student success and offering professional development.

To learn more about the Public Relations Student Society of America, contact Danielle LaGree, faculty advisor, at To support PRSSA visit Kansas State University · GiveCampus or contact Heather Strafuss at or 785-775-2146.

Written by: Ariana Brancato

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