Emma McClain, a senior communication and social influence student and president of Temple University's chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, won this year's Anne Sceia Klein Award for Professional Promise. The award, sponsored by Philadelphia's chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, recognizes an outstanding junior or senior undergraduate student who takes an active interest in public relations.
For McClain, this recognition was a long time coming. When she started as a student at Klein College of Media and Communication, she was undecided on her major but interested in communication and business. She took classes in both of the subjects but realized that she mostly wanted to focus on making a significant change in others' lives, and found communication and social influence to be a perfect fit. Soon, public relations became one of her vehicles for driving social change.
"My goal is to just pick up as many traits and skills as I can because I do love learning," she says. "I don't really see it as 'I just do PR' or 'I just do communication and social influence.' I think the best thing you can do is have a wide variety of skills."
As president of Temple PRSSA, McClain has networked with professionals who provide meaningful advice about the field and engage with other students who want to follow a trajectory similar to hers. The chapter, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and currently has over 100 members, broadens her view of the possibilities public relations offers for curious students who want to create flexible career paths for themselves. Along with her role as an account executive for PRowl Public Relations, Temple's student-run public relations firm, and various public relations internships, she feels her time at Klein College has helped her become a strong candidate for future opportunities.
"It was kind of astonishing that I was able to come this far," she says. "Looking back at all the hard work I put in it shows you that hard work really does pay off and getting involved...will really take you places if you try."
Gregg Feistman, assistant chair for public relations and faculty advisor for Temple PRSSA and PRowl, believes Emma is the ideal recipient of the Anne Sceia Klein Award. In addition to her leadership roles, Feistman is proud that her win is a part of the long tradition of Klein College student excellence in public relations.
"We haven't had a student win this award, so I'm really pleased that someone from Temple won it," he says. "But we do get recognized. Philly PRSA has been a supporter of our student chapter for a number of years."
McClain was honored at the PRSA Philadelphia Pepperpot Awards on Nov. 5. She was awarded a $500 scholarship. For more information about the Anne Sceia Klein Award and other Pepperpot Awards, visit philly.org/pepperpot-awards.