By: Kelsey Pardue (@kelsey_pardue


My personal journey to public relations was different. I was one semester away from being in the College of Education with the hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher. I slowly discovered that my enthusiasm and passion for the work had diminished, so I began looking into other programs that Grand Valley offered. I had a deep love for all things communications and after a presentation, my English capstone professor told me that I’d do great in public relations; so to the School of Communications I went.

I met with Dr. Tim Penning to discuss the APR program at Grand Valley and knew the second I walked out that door that I had found what I was meant to do. What fascinated me the most was the value that the APR program placed on integrating theory with practice.

Students gain skills in social media, digital communications, communication strategy, counseling management, adapting to international contexts, and the use of analytics for measuring results, which were things I was very interested in.

There were also so many ways to get involved on campus, and thanks to current GVSU PRSSA President Trevor Bryan, I became involved in both GrandPR and PRSSA. After joining both organizations, I realized I had finally found my place and path.

I talk frequently about how grateful I am that I found my passion in public relations, and so I decided to ask local public relations professionals and Grand Valley students how they found theirs.

Stephanie Kotschevar, Public Relations Manager, Experience Grand Rapids & Grand Valley State University APR program Alumna

“I went into school with a plan, but quickly realized that the career path I thought I should do wasn’t something I could see myself doing and enjoying for the rest of my life. Public relations was the perfect combination of writing and relationship building that I had been looking for. I’ve never regretted my decision and couldn’t be happier with my profession and career.”

Chloe English, Grand Valley State University APR student, Vice President of GVPRSSA Professional Development

I found my passion for PR through its range of opportunity. I knew if I went into PR, I could go anywhere and do a variety of things within my career. That’s the beauty of this field.”

Jowei Yek, Grand Valley State University APR Student

“My passion for PR was ignited when I was first introduced to PRSA’s definition of PR. It was then that I truly understood that PR is all about the people; the relationships come before the communications. From PR, I learned to be compassionate, people-centric, and relationship-oriented in my everyday life. “

Adrienne Wallace, often referred to as PRSSA’s “PR Mom”, provided some insight on what motivates her to be so involved and mentor so many of us young, aspiring PR professionals.

“Gratitude, maintain relevancy, building and maintain a network, and the future of my profession drives me to mentor others. Being entrusted as a mentor has grown my own career and added a richness to my own life that I honestly didn’t even know I was missing until I started mentoring young people. Very early in my career I stumbled upon this Hindu proverb and it struck a chord within me: ‘They who give have all things; they who withhold have nothing.’ You could say I embraced it as my personal mantra. I do believe that I have all things.”

Everyone’s journey looks different, but they all have one thing in common: passion.




Kelsey Pardue is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University where she studied both Education and Advertising and Public Relations. During her time at Grand Valley, she was an active member of PRSSA and the Social Media Director for GrandPR. Currently, she is the public relations intern at Priority Health.