Fall Into ICON: Harvesting Growth at the Conference

As August slips away and the cool autumn breeze starts to make its presence known (especially here on the East Coast), there’s a certain enchantment in the air. Students return to lecture halls and corridors. Their hands are wrapped around warm cups brimming with pumpkin-infused brews — an annual ritual marking summer’s retreat and autumn’s triumphant return. In this season of change, my thoughts dance toward the possibilities that await at PRSSA ICON on Oct. 13–17 in Nashville, Tennessee. Although I can’t promise anything about our unpredictable Southern weather, the sentiment remains. 

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I’m absolutely thrilled at the thought of the speakers coming in from around the globe to teach us about various public relations industries and the profession as a whole. I’m sure that the insights they’re going to share with students are going to be incredibly valuable.

The idea of connecting with new peers during our networking events and in the Conference hallways fills me with joy. I can’t wait to interact with fresh faces and make new connections. I’m also incredibly excited to showcase what my committee has worked so hard to put together. It’s a chance to demonstrate how the skills we’ve acquired in our department have prepared us for success. Meeting more professionals and finally getting to meet those I’ve only interacted with online is something I’m really looking forward to. The opportunity to connect face-to-face with people in the field is truly thrilling!

That’s what I’m excited for, but what about everyone else? 

“I’m most looking forward to the networking! Seeing all of the incredible PRSSA members and hearing their stories about their Chapters is something I value so much. Also, I absolutely love seeing all the PRSSA students interact with each other both during and after ICON hours. Seeing everyone get close and build friendships and relationships that will last them a lifetime makes ICON so much fun!” – Sankalp Sharma, PRSSA National President

“I am most looking forward to ICON because it is my first time experiencing an event of this caliber, especially because so many speakers and PRSA attendees could be the gateway into my future. I am also looking forward to meeting peers from other PRSSA Chapters and getting to create bonds with like-minded pre-professionals that could last for years to come.” – Ro Lane, ICON logistics director.

Recently, I had a meaningful conversation with a fellow student. We delved into the idea that even the smallest actions we take can lead to something bigger and better. It’s a lesson that became crystal clear to me through my experience with PRSSA, especially as I organized this Conference. The connections I’ve carefully nurtured over the span of five (or more) years have proven to be remarkably genuine and valuable throughout this entire process. I take pride in the fact that many of these connections will either be speaking at ICON or have contributed in some way. It’s remarkable how these seemingly small actions can ultimately transform into monumental achievements, much like the transformation PRSSA ICON facilitates.

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Nature often teaches us powerful lessons. As we step into autumn, a season of change and transformation, the parallels between nature’s cycles and self-investment become strikingly clear. Just as trees let go of their leaves to make way for new growth, participating in PRSSA ICON is akin to shedding old limitations and eagerly embracing the opportunity to nurture fresh skills and connections. Just as autumn’s beauty lies in its vivid colors and the promise of new beginnings, ICON holds the promise of an enriching experience where you can expand your knowledge, widen your network and embark on a fresh chapter of your personal and professional journey. Just as nature readies itself for a fresh cycle, attending ICON sets the stage for your own revitalized cycle of growth and accomplishment, nurtured by the investments you’ve dedicated to yourself.

Nurture that investment — register for ICON now! Visit this link:


Oakley Weddle is a graduate student at the University of Memphis, studying strategic media. He serves on the National Committee as the vice president of Chapter development and as the 2023 ICON Conference coordinator. Oakley works as a graduate assistant in his department and works in marketing at ProTech Services Group Inc., a Memphis IT company. 

Oakley was named a Memphis 20 under 30 recipient in 2023, an award honoring up-and-coming professionals in Memphis to look out for. In addition to that, he was awarded his college’s Outstanding Research award for his work on an anti-death penalty research project.   

Beyond his professional and academic endeavors, Oakley is deeply invested in his community. He stewards The PEYitforward Foundation, a nonprofit organization he established in memory of his late brother, Peyton. This foundation extends scholarships at The University of Memphis, collaborates with the unhoused community and initiates projects aimed at aiding those facing personal tragedies. The #PEYitforward project, a brainchild of the foundation, spreads random acts of kindness among strangers, encapsulating their ethos. Furthermore, Weddle dedicates his time to teaching musical theater to approximately 80 students, channeling the arts to cultivate skills in speech, leadership and empathy.

Oakley is proud to be a part of PRSSA on the national level and honored to be this year’s ICON Conference coordinator. 

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