Hayden Huffman is a senior at Western Carolina University, majoring in communication with a concentration in public relations and minoring in sociology. 

Huffman chose communication as his major because he always had a passion for sharing stories and information, and uniting people together. “Public Relations allows me to continue that passion and provides me with the skills to do it successfully,” he said. Huffman chose sociology as a minor because sociology was one of the first courses that challenged his beliefs and understanding of society.

A significant part of Huffman’s time in the communication program has been his involvement with the WCU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). 

PRSSA is a student-run organization that hosts networking events, public relations workshops for content programs, headshot events for portfolios, and professional guest speakers.

Huffman first heard about PRSSA through the communication program and the department meetings on advising day. Huffman stated he would not have joined if he had not met any peers within the club.

“I first became involved with PRSSA during my sophomore year when I met Waleed Khalil, a former president of PRSSA. He is a great person and inspired me to take a step forward in my professional life as a student,” said Huffman.

Now being the chapter’s president, Huffman enjoys taking the lead in recruiting new members and hosting meetings. 

“Hosting meetings, taking the lead, and responding to emails is great, but nothing is better than to sit and have a conversation with someone,” said Huffman. “Call me old fashioned, but the in-person opportunities I am able to have as president bring a lot of joy to my position as president.”

Moreover, Huffman describes his experience with PRSSA as a “roller coaster” because there was a period where he felt the club was stagnant. However, the members are taking strides in making the organization thrive again. Overall, his experience has been very positive, being able to network with peers and businesses through the organization. 

One of Huffman’s favorite moments through PRSSA was in 2020 when he met up with the organization at Innovation Brewery in Dillsboro for a networking event. 

“At the time, I was unable to drink since I was not 21, but it was one of the first social events I had been to in a year where social interaction was scary,” he said. “ It helped me come out of my shell again and gave me a confidence boost that I desperately needed throughout the years of COVID-19.”

As far as the semester goes, PRSSA is working on increasing collaboration efforts with other clubs and organizations at WCU. According to Huffman, there have been many times when he had seen clubs needing proper planning, sufficient information, or a backup plan if something goes wrong. 

“I feel like PRSSA can fill a desperately needed gap and can make university or student-run events something to cherish,” Huffman stated.

Additionally, the chapter is working towards providing information on unique career paths that people can use PR skills to succeed in, such as content creators, music managers, celebrity managers, and social media managers.

Just as Huffman gains many opportunities with PRSSA, he encourages students to get involved with the organization. He wants to inform students that PRSSA is not only a professional experience but also a human experience to join a group of like-minded people and create positive environments for each other’s futures.  

 Lastly, there is no fee to join PRSSA, but it costs $50 to subscribe to PRSSA online, which grants access to information, articles, job postings, and professional events. Students can easily transition from PRSSA to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) after graduation if they have purchased the student membership.

Students can reach out to Huffman or department head, Dr. Eldredge for more information and how to join at  hrhuffman1@catamount.wcu.edu and saeldredge@email.wcu.edu

For updates from the WCU Chapter of PRSSA and to learn more about meeting times, follow them on Instagram