Campus News

UK's Grehan Associates Awarded National Public Relations Student Society of America Affiliation

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 11, 2020) — Grehan Associates, a student-run marketing and communications firm at the University of Kentucky, has been awarded a National Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) affiliation. The firm is housed in and advised by the College of Communication and Information, but firm membership is open to any student at UK.

Currently, there are only 28 other firms nationwide with this distinction. UK’s Grehan Associates joins the ranks of Florida, Alabama, Ball State, Purdue, Ohio State and other prestigious programs in earning national affiliation.

The firm’s 2020-21 membership totals 34 students from five different colleges (Gatton College of Business and Economics, College of Communication and Information, College of Fine Arts, College of Arts and Sciences and College of Agriculture, Food and Environment) across UK’s campus.

To earn PRSSA national affiliation, a student firm must complete a rigorous application process. The application must illustrate how the firm meets or exceeds a list of standards including PRSSA connection, professionalism, measured impact and results and organizational structure.

Part of that organizational structure includes a student firm director. The current director is Shannon Strivieri, a finance and marketing double major. She took over as firm director in 2018, from founder and former director, Morgan Haas. Since assuming the role of firm director, Strivieri has had her eye on national affiliation and is finally seeing her dedication pay off.

“When I took over the firm my junior year, I was terrified,” Strivieri admitted. “It is a lot of pressure to succeed but I could not have done it without all of our current and former members along the way. Achieving the national affiliation will be forever one of my highlights during my time at UK. Grehan Associates has opened up opportunities for me in regard to internships and post-graduation plans that I could only have dreamed of before I joined,” Strivieri said.

“Saying I am proud of these students would be a huge understatement,” Grehan Associates advisor Catherine Hayden said. Hayden, the communications director for the College of Communication and Information, has been the firm’s advisor since its inception.

“I remember talk of creating a student-run firm in my undergraduate days here at the University of Kentucky. Everyone was onboard and excited, but we just couldn’t get it off the ground. So, I know what a monumental effort and achievement this is for these students,” Hayden added.

Grehan Associates also added a co-advisor, Natalie Partin, a PR account executive with Team Cornett, a full-service agency in Lexington, Kentucky. Partin is also the president of the local Thoroughbred Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Her involvement in Grehan Associates has been beneficial in helping firm members bridge the gap between student and professional.

Clients who partner with Grehan Associates receive assistance with social media promotions, event planning, public relations and graphic design needs. Clients thus far have included both local and national clients — GiveButter, Girls Girls Girls Burritos, Wildfire Yoga, Farmbot.Wildcats, Pivot Brewing and On Purpose 86400 by Susan Priest Richlak and others.

The revival of Grehan Associates began in earnest in 2016, and the firm was recognized as a student organization in April of 2017. The first executive board of Grehan Associates took office in December of 2017, with the first official firm meeting taking place the following month in January of 2018.

Even with its relatively short history on campus, Grehan Associates is making a name for itself by providing fantastic opportunities for students and clients alike.

For more information about Grehan Associates visit

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.