Public relations student takes Biola to the national stage

Junior Jessica Airey sees public relations as a mission field.

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Public relations student takes Biola to the national stage

| Grant Walter/THE CHIMES

| Grant Walter/THE CHIMES

Grant Walter

| Grant Walter/THE CHIMES

Grant Walter

Grant Walter

| Grant Walter/THE CHIMES

Nicole Foy, Writer

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For the last three years, junior Jessica Airey had dreamed of being elected to the National Committee of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Despite the yearlong nomination process within the network of public relations minded college students, constant prayers and her overwhelming passion for public relations, the journalism major with an emphasis in public relations never really expected to win.

Instead, when Airey prepared to speak to the roughly 300 delegates gathered at the 2012 National PRSSA conference in Scottsdale, Arizona she decided to utilize her speech as a way to communicate her Christian perspective to the organization.

“I didn’t say anything explicitly Christian or quote Bible passages … but I definitely talked about the importance of integrity and humility in leadership,” Airey said. “My platform was pretty transparent. I spelled it out and didn’t try any gimmicks.”

Biblical background provides moral basis for ethics

Airey’s straightforward presentation paid off. As the newly elected Vice President of Advocacy and the first Biola student to sit on the national committee, Airey mentioned that this is her chance to shine a light in the ethical practice of public relations. Her position will require her to mediate ethical dilemmas of chapters around the country, something for which Airey believes she is uniquely suited.

“Having a strong Christian faith really gives me a moral basis for ethics,” Airey said. “I can make absolute decisions that I think are very difficult to make if you don’t have a consistent moral background to go off of.”

Besides ethics, Airey will also be called upon to increase globalization efforts and promote diversity in local PRSSA chapters and their schools. For Airey, this includes distributing a diversity toolkit to chapters, planning a PR conference in Philadelphia for underprivileged high school students and adding more international internships to the PRSSA database. Despite the daunting year ahead of her, Airey is excited to begin.

“I really don’t know what God is going to do with this but he has me in this position for a reason and I am just going to do my best,” Airey said. “I really believe in the stuff that I am working on from the bottom of my heart, and I am very passionate about it. I think that will shine through my work.”

National exposure of Biola excellence

Sydney Bessler, a senior journalism major with an emphasis in public relations and the vice president of Biola’s PRSSA chapter, believes Airey’s passion and skill will reflect positively on Biola.

“It is not only great for Jessica because this is her dream and I think she will add a lot to the national chapter, but it is huge for Biola because our chapter is really young,” Bessler said. “I think she is really going to work to get Biola known as well as Christian universities taken seriously.”

Carolyn Kim, the faculty adviser for the Biola chapter of  PRSSA, also emphasized the incredible exposure and opportunity for growth that will come to public relations at Biola because of Airey’s national recognition.

“It is Biola saying, ‘We are showing up, we are here, we are excellent in the industry and we are formed by our faith. That is how we practice it, and it influences us, and we are going to be very dynamic,’” Kim said.

Shining a light in the public relations industry

In addition to her involvement with Biola PRSSA and now the national chapter, Airey is a member of Tijuana Ministry, the Journalism Honor Society and the track and field team. She also works as a communications coordinator at university communications and marketing, media relations director for the senior art show Sacred Streets and a monitor at the fitness center. Instead of expressing concern over Airey’s busy schedule, Kim found it a refreshing example of community involvement and societal awareness.

“She has her hand in a lot of different places, but to me the fact that she still makes time for those who have nothing, for those who are broken, that is a reflection of what every PR person should be,” Kim said. “Not sucked into the industry but shining in the industry and helping those who have no voices.”

Despite her qualifications, work ethic and passion for her chosen “mission field,” Airey believes her biblically integrated preparation at Biola is the true reason for her success.

“I have a purpose in life that Biola has really helped me formulate and articulate well. They taught me apologetics and how to declare my faith … and just work excellently and do it as a witness to the Lord,” Airey said. “I wouldn’t have been able to get this position if I hadn’t had so many people helping me along the way.”