This year I have the opportunity to lead the Temple University Chapter of PRSSA. One of my personal goals for our Chapter is to lead in diversity and inclusion by truly committing to the best practices. This summer, as the Black Lives Matter movement was picking up, I realized how important it is to stand by our members and push for change within our industry. With my commitment, our Chapter led the way for other student organizations by becoming the first pre-professional student organization to join the Diversity Action Alliance.
The Diversity Action Alliance is working to bring together leaders of public relations organizations around the world to achieve the critically essential goal of improving representation of underrepresented groups as measured by recruitment, retention and representation in management. By joining initiatives such as the Diversity Action Alliance, PRSSA Chapters can signal to their members that they are welcoming and inclusive places where no student feels alienated or underrepresented.
PRSSA Chapters can be change leaders within their communities by recognizing the lack of diversity represented in academic and professional spaces and actively working to change that. My goal this year is to continue creating a safe space where our students feel welcomed and respected at each of our events. I am so incredibly proud to be leading this Chapter toward these initiatives while also working alongside an executive board just as passionate about D&I as I am. As a biracial woman, I have struggled myself with my own identity and being true to myself, which I recognize is quite common with many students. If I am able to work to educate and embrace diversity within our members, I will walk away from leading this Chapter knowing that I was successful. I encourage other PRSSA Chapters to do the same — first educate yourselves, then educate your members and then your surrounding community. Diversity, equity and inclusion is an ongoing community effort.
Alumni Haniya Shariff was the Chapter’s first director of diversity and inclusion. Today she is the PRSSA national vice president of diversity and inclusion, implementing new initiatives nationwide. She has set a great example for our Chapter and continues to do so for PRSSA Chapters across the Society. If you have questions about where to start in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion, she is a fantastic resource.
As a part of our Chapter’s renewed commitment to diversity and inclusion, the Chapter is implementing a diversity and inclusion committee in the spring of 2021. We want to encourage our members to participate and continue shaping the future of our Chapter at Temple.
Our Chapter is committing to adopting best practices, championing the cause and to tracking diversity. I cannot wait to see what the Diversity Action Alliance allows us to do outside of the classroom, alongside our industry partners. For Chapters interested in following in our footsteps, you can sign the commitment today at this link.
Mackenzi Hockensmith is the Chapter president of PRSSA at Temple University. She is currently a senior public relations major with a minor in political science. Hockensmith is also a public relations and content development intern at Flackable, an award-winning public relations agency.