Congratulatory banners hung in Meredith Hall this past week to applaud Drake University’s public relations program for its recent accomplishments.
As of Sept. 4, the program has officially received Certification in Education for Public Relations, CEPR. Only 34 public relations programs in the world have earned this honor.
The Public Relations Society of America, PRSA granted the CEPR, a major-specific certification. This October, Drake will go to Washington D.C. to receive the prestigious award at the PRSA International Conference.
The road to CEPR certification has been a long one. The process began a year ago in January, and consisted of curriculum reviews, self-evaluation, an extensive application and a site team visit this past spring.
“This has been one of my goals since I arrived at Drake,” said Kelly Bruhn, assistant professor of public relations.
Bruhn explained that Drake’s public relations program underwent a curriculum review in 2012, which put them in a better position to be eligible for the award.
“(The faculty) have really tried to seek out recognition for our students,” Bruhn said.
Awards and accomplishments like CEPR provide more opportunities for students to make their resumes shine.
“[Graduates] know they have one more feather in their cap to separate them from others on the job market — the fact that they graduated from a CEPR certified school,” said Jennifer Konfrst, also an assistant professor of public relations at Drake.
Some of the standards that CEPR certified programs must meet include preparation for real world application, quality faculty and students, highlighting global awareness, a focus on diversity, possessing a set of standards to quantify success and having professional connections.
The site team that visited Drake in the spring, spent three days examining the program and talking to faculty and students.
Drake public relations majors are unique. They work with real-world clients in almost all of their classes, which helps them stand out from other schools.
Bruhn mentioned that because of this hands-on experience, the portfolios that younger Drake students have already built especially impressed the assessment team.
The certification was exciting news to students in the program. Laura Plumb, president of Drake’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter, said her organization helped the professors prepare for the evaluation. The PRSSA chapter also had the opportunity to meet with the site team when they visited.
“As a student, it’s a really big deal,” Plumb said. “It’s a huge honor to be able to put this on your resume.”
For Kelly Tafoya, a senior public relations and politics double major, the award brings her journey through Drake’s public relation program full circle.
“I feel like we’re asked a lot why we came to Drake, and most of us say because of the awesome PR program,” Tafoya said. “It’s so nice to finally have some recognition to back up that statement.”