ASU Student Top 50 Chosen Nationwide for Public Relations Diversity Program!

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PR student Juana Blackwell best 2021.jpg

ASU Student among 50 Chosen Nationwide for Public Relations Diversity Program!

By Kenneth Mullinax/ASU 

An Alabama State University communication's department student is among 50 chosen nationwide for a prestigious public relations (PR) diversity initiative, which connects students with senior members of advertising/PR agencies for future internships and employment positions. 

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chose ASU student Juana Blackwell, a junior Public Relations major from San Bernardino California, to participate in this program held virtually in Philadelphia, Penn. (overseen by the FINN Agency). Organizers submit the names of all 50 participants to both an internship and employment pool, which PR professionals may utilize for future selection of diverse talent for the industry. The program targets students from both Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI). 

"I was ecstatic when I found out that I won a place in this program," Blackwell said by phone. "This program prepares aspiring PR professionals like me for what it is like to work at an agency. I want to thank all the members of the FINN Agency, especially its CEO, Peter Finn, and Dr. Byrd at ASU, for the generosity shown to me." 


This initiative has as its goal to diversify the PR workplace and increase internship opportunities for PRSSA members like Blackwell, according to Dr. L. Simone Byrd, an ASU professor of Public Relations, and a 2020-21 Fulbright Scholar. 

"I am thrilled for Juana, who is among the University's most talented and dedicated Public Relations and Communications Department students," Byrd said. "She is an ideal student who goes above and beyond whatever she is assigned. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, she has participated in each virtual event that the department has held and her classwork is immaculate." 

Byrd stated that because of her selection, Blackwell and the other students will gain a mentor from the FINN Agency (which oversees this program), and will participate in a client meeting with their mentor, hear from a diverse panel of young professionals regarding their experience at FINN and experience other career-preparedness initiatives.  

"Juana and all participants who complete the program will have an opportunity to apply for upcoming real-world internship opportunities as well," Byrd stated.


Blackwell said that the University has laid a solid foundation for her through her classwork study and interaction with her PR and Department of Communication's professors.

"ASU has taught and treated me well so that I can be an outstanding social media PR professional in the future," said Blackwell.

"Teamwork and collaboration have been taught to me at ASU. All of my Communication Department professors have shared the appropriate methods and resources needed to succeed in public relations and everything that I have been taught will help me succeed in my chosen profession," Blackwell added. 


Founded in 1967, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is the foremost organization for students interested in public relations and communications. It advocates rigorous academic standards for public relations education, the highest ethical principles and diversity in the profession. PRSSA is made up of more than 10,000 students and advisers organized into 300-plus chapters in the United States, Argentina, Colombia and Peru. It is headquartered in New York City, and led by a national committee of members. It has a rich history of support from its parent organization, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), which offers professional development, networking opportunities and news for members. 

News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.