Student National Finalist for PR Honor!

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PR student Juana Blackwell best 2021.jpg

Pictured above is ASU's Juana Blackwell.

ASU Undergrad is Finalist for PR News' Student of the Year National Award 

By Kenneth Mullinax/ASU  

An Alabama State University student has been selected as a finalist for PR News magazine's 2022 Social Impact Historically Black College or University (HBCU) Student of the Year Award. PR News is a nationwide industry standard in the field of public relations and communications. ASU's Juana Blackwell is in competition with students from both Morgan State and Howard University. The winner among the three national finalists will be named on April 20 at a ceremony held in-person at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City, Va. 

"It is a great honor to me personally to have made it to the finals of an award that is given in the profession which I have chosen to be my lifelong career," Blackwell said. "I am shocked, excited and proud that our University has a student selected to compete among the final three from HBCU students within the entire country." 


Blackwell, an ASU senior, majoring in communications with a concentration in public relations (PR), was named a finalist for the magazine's HBCU honor by a panel of industry experts, explained PR News' Jessica Dombrowski, associate director of Marketing. 

"PR News has declared Blackwell's entry to be bold, innovative, and deserving of industry-wide recognition for helping to usher in a diverse, equitable future. Congratulations to her on this huge accomplishment," Dombrowski stated.


Blackwell's teacher and mentor, Dr. L. Simone Byrd, a professor of Public Relations in ASU's Department of Communications, is a staunch supporter of her student. 

"I believe Juana was selected for her unwavering commitment to academic excellence and her leadership qualities. Furthermore, she has an outstanding record of community involvement at ASU, as well as lending her talents to volunteer and professional organizations while holding a high grade point average," Byrd said. 


Byrd believes that Blackwell's honor reflects directly on the University’s mission of fostering academic excellence, as well as mentoring its students. 

"I believe that Juana making it to the finals for this prestigious award highlights and promotes her, as well as the strength and legacy of ASU's Department of Communications," stated Byrd, herself a Fulbright U.S. Scholar. 
"As the University begins implementing the Focus 2030 Strategic Plan, I'm always thinking about ways to incorporate these standards, as well as the University's mission, into my teaching. In the PR program, students are consistently required to participate in coursework that accentuates hands on, experiential opportunities to build their portfolios. One of the primary goals is for them to graduate and be able to compete with their peers at a national and global level...initiatives such as what this award stands for and the numerous paid internships that we get our students placed within are extremely beneficial in promoting our students to the right networks and contacts, as well as putting them into the industry's employment pipeline." 


ASU's Blackwell, a native of San Bernardino, Ca., believes that the University has prepared her for this award and her future career in PR, which begins after her graduation in May with a position awaiting her with Wells Fargo in Charlotte, N.C. 

"Without a doubt, ASU has prepared me for my future due to its amazing Department of Communications with its many cutting-edge professors, which has as one of my personal favorites, Dr. Byrd," Blackwell said. "ASU has been very supportive of me and I cannot show it enough gratitude, just like I can't thank Dr. Byrd enough for recognizing and nurturing me as a scholar and as a person."

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