By Ashley Jordan and Lexi Stickel

Thirty years ago, Eastern Illinois University’s PRSSA program (Public Relations Student Society of America) was founded by Daniel E Thornburgh. On March 21, 2014, students and facility celebrated the program, which benefits students and professionals. They celebrated not only the PRSSA program but the opportunities it has created for the students of Eastern Illinois University.

The PRSSA is a program that allows students to socialize, interact with professionals and network in order to become well known with the business world. Facility advisor Brian Sowa said PRSSA is “learning about public relations beyond just a lecture.”

The PRSSA program attempts to push students to their full potential so they are competitive in the job market. PRSSA president Stephanie Ciesla said, “It’s a way to get where I want to go faster as well as meet people along the way.” Getting started early and participating in the hands on experience help jump start a student’s potential career, she said.

The members PRSSA invited Daniel Thornburgh’s widow, Adrien Thornburgh, and retired facility advisor Terry Johnson, who also knew Daniel Thornburgh. PRSSA is significant to these two women because they both value the true meaning of the society. Thornburgh and Johnson said students interested in public relations had limited resources before the chapter was started. Referring to a career in the public relations market Adrien Thornburgh adds, “All of your experience can be used in a job like that.”

Providing incoming PRSSA members with one piece of advice, Johnson said, “Get involved early and stay involved and do as much as you can. You are building your resume and starting your portfolio.” Good grades and GPA is also important to an employer, while this extracurricular activity provides professional experience.

The PRSSA chapter provides information and opportunities for students interested in the public relations. Daniel Thornburgh, the founder and first chair of the journalism department, oversaw the formation of the chapter, which has helped members network and gain experience.