When Carolyn Kim became the faculty adviser to Biola’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) a decade ago, it had just three members. Today, the chapter averages more than 40 members each year — a testament to how much she’s grown the quality of and interest in Biola’s public relations program.
Along the way, others have taken note. In October 2018, the national PRSSA recognized Kim as the winner of the faculty adviser category in its Dr. F.H. Teahan Chapter Awards, an honor given to just one professor in the nation each year for their outstanding service to a PRSSA chapter.
Over the past decade, Kim (’06, M.A. ’08), associate professor of public relations and director of Biola’s public relations programs, has developed Biola’s chapter into a nationally award-winning group that has produced three students who have become PRSSA national officers, including one student who has served as the national president.
“There are a lot of things I’ve really loved, but I think the heartbeat — the thing that I love — is seeing students find out they can do much more than they ever realized they could,” Kim said. “Whether it’s a student who gets an internship they never thought they’d have a chance to do, or watching someone who didn’t think they were a leader get the chance to be a leader — or we take our students to the national conference — and seeing that they’re able to go and realize that they really can hold their own on a national stage.”
Kim has been pivotal in developing Biola’s public relations programs, doubling its student enrollment and increasing its competitive edge through student-run programs like Biola PRSSA and 6th Street Public Relations, an award-winning student-run PR agency. In the fall of 2018, the public relations major reached more than 100 students.
Tamara Welter, associate professor of journalism and chair of the Department of Media, Journalism and Public Relations, said Kim’s leadership has grown the PR program — formerly just a concentration — into a vibrant major.
“Over the last two years, she has helped guide the program to maturity and preparation for next steps with new concentrations, courses and program proposals,” Welter said. “Her leadership has been instrumental to the success that our program has experienced and to the respect we have nationwide from other schools and professionals.”
“My passion is that here at Biola, we’re developing future leaders, and I’m constantly trying to remind our students that we’re not preparing them for Biola; we’re preparing them for what’s next,” Kim said. “And so PRSSA gives a great opportunity to actually start doing what’s next while you’re still here, because you’re getting out of the Biola bubble, you’re doing something beyond our campus, and you’re engaging with people with a lot of different perspectives and views and learning how to leverage influence.”
Kim currently serves on the Public Relations Society of America’s Educators Academy and is the chief research editor of the Institute for Public Relations Digital Media Research Center. With all her experience and expertise, Kim has authored a textbook titled Public Relations: Competencies and Practice that comes out in March.