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Audra Hartges (left) and Morgan Yingst were co-winners of the PR Student of the Year Award.

Audra Hartges (left) and Morgan Yingst were co-winners of the PR Student of the Year Award. Dr. Penning was named PR Professional of the Year.

Public relations professionals of West Michigan gathered on April 24th for drinks, food, and to celebrate achievements in public relations of both groups and individuals. WMPRSA (West Michigan Public Relations Society of America) hosted the event at the Ballroom City Flats Hotel in Grand Rapids.

The School of Communications was well-represented. Members of Grand Valley State University’s GrandPR staff and PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) attended the event as well as Dr. Tim Penning, an Associate Professor in the School of Communications.

Dr. Penning was the recipient of the first award of the night. He was named the PR Professional of the Year, a high honor given out at the PRoof Awards.

Before the awards for campaigns were handed out, two more individual awards were presented. There was a tie for the PR Student of the Year Award. Grand Valley State University students Audra Hartges and Morgan Yingst were both recipients of the award.

Hartges was President of PRSSA as well as Vice President of Operations for GrandPR, the student-run PR firm.

“I was very honored to be chosen as a winner of the Student of the Year award,” Hartges said. “I think that WMPRSA giving out this award every year shows their commitment to helping the next generation of PR professionals.”

Morgan Yingst, the other award recipient, was the CEO of GrandPR and held that position on the PRSSA E-Board as well.

“I am honored to be recognized by WMPRSA as PR Student of the Year,” Yingst said. “My experiences

within the School of Communications, GrandPR, and PRSSA have made me more passionate about my future career and provided me countless opportunities to grow.”

Other students who attended were inspired by the award winners’ drive to succeed in public relations. Joan Giffels, a junior at Grand Valley majoring in PR, spoke of how the event impacted her.

“My experience was a lot of fun,” Giffels said. “It was cool to see the different people from different companies and organizations all interacting in one setting. Everyone that attended was professional and polite and you could tell they knew their stuff. It’s wild to think that some day it will be me, my classmates, and my fellow PRSSA members attending this event and representing where we work.”

The other PRoof Awards recipients can be seen online: http://wmprsa.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/2014-proof-award-winners/

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