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The University of Miami PRSSA chapter was founded on November 6, 1981, with 15 charter members. Lydia Lopez, a junior, was the chapter’s first president, Dr. Donald Vance the faculty advisor, and Philip Weinbach, APR, the professional advisor. PRSA’s Miami Chapter, founded in 1955,  sponsored UM’s chapter. At the time, public relations courses were taught in UM’s Department of Communication but public relations was not offered as a major. By 1985 UM PRSSA members were attending PRSSA’s national conferences. Professors Stanley Harrison, Don Stacks, Donn James Tilson and Colee Splichal later succeeded Weinbach as faculty advisors. Maria Scott  is our chapter’s current advisor. Subsequent professional advisors have included Nelson Benedico, APR, Inge Sengelmann, APR, Catherine Pacheco, APR,  Tim Dodson, APR,  Sandra Fine, APR and our current advisor Shawn Warmstein.

Over the years UM’s PRSSA members have participated in a variety of professional activities on and off campus, including visits to MTV Latin America, rbb Public Relations, and other organizations, and hosting professional/alumni mixers (the first was held in spring 2000) where members looking for a summer internship or post-graduation job can present their resumes to prospective employers. More important, chapter members also have played a key role in campus and community service, organizing PR 101 workshops for UM student publicity chairs to learn how to promote their clubs on campus (the first workshop was held in the fall 1999), and providing expertise on projects for UM’s Religious Diversity Week and South Florida’s Daily Bread Community Food Bank. Florida Leader magazine gave its 2001 “Best of Florida Schools” Award for Best Religious Mixer, Public Relations Campaigns for UM’s Religious Diversity Week.

UM PRSSA has also created new annual events including Real World PR (spring 2010), where students were able to sharpen their skills and obtain internships, and Practice to Professional: Student Exhibition (spring 2010), where students submitted their portfolios for judging and won prizes for their work.

UM’s PRSSA members also have been recognized and nationally for their achievements. Three members have received PRSSA’s National Gold Key – the highest student honor – in recognition for outstanding academic excellence in public relations and PRSSA leadership qualities: Gabriella Imbimbo (2000; President), Celmira Jamett (2000; Public Relations Director), and Becky Clero (2001; President).

Today, UM PRSSA  has over 60 members and continues to bring members professional development opportunities.

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