Ad/PR Student Attends National PR Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit in Chicago

The 2022 Plank Center DEI Student Travel Scholarship recipients.
Courtesy of Breana Hicks

The 2022 Plank Center DEI Student Travel Scholarship recipients.

Breana Hicks, a senior in the School of Journalism and Strategic Media, attended The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations 2022 Summit on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Milestones in Mentoring gala in Chicago. Hicks was one of 18 diverse public relations students to receive the 2022 Plank Center DEI Student Travel Scholarship chosen from universities across the country.      

"I am extremely honored to be one of the 18 recipients of this travel scholarship across the nation, representing the University of Arkansas. I am beyond grateful for the lessons learned and connections made!" Hicks said. Hicks is an advertising and public relations major in the School of Journalism and Strategic Media in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

The annual DEI summit provides a place for PR practitioners, educators and students to further their professional development, network and enhance their knowledge of DEI issues and best practices. The theme of the 2022 DEI summit was intersectionality and inclusion, and industry leaders discussed DEI in the PR industry. The Plank Center was founded in 2005 at the University of Alabama and is "the leading international resource working to support students, educators and practitioners who are passionate about the public relations profession." (

Hicks learned tips and heard stories and advice from current industry professionals about how to better support and cultivate diverse leaders in the field of public relations. As a scholarship recipient, Hicks attended exclusive events, including a breakfast to network with public relations executives, and attended the Milestones in Mentoring Gala at the conclusion of the summit, where industry leaders gathered and talked to students about careers.

"Something that really stood out to me was that one of panelists said that we need to be mindful of the terminology we use for DEI — we need to speak the language of TWT: Total World Transformation instead of DEI," Hicks said. "I learned different perspectives from the summit to see DEI and myself in the ad/PR industry - now I am trying to see broader issues such as how my study and work can diversify this industry; this is my honors thesis topic."

"Breana demonstrates her passion for equity and diversity," said Jee Young Chung, an assistant professor of public relations, who nominated Hicks for the scholarship. The ad/PR faculty supported her nomination. "Preparing her application — a resume and 5-minute short video — challenged her to articulate who she is and her understanding of DEI from the ad/PR perspective, which is her major and future job."

"One of the important goals at SJSM is to prepare future journalists, storytellers and media professionals to craft accurate, fair and compelling narratives that impact marginalized voices and underserved communities. Breana is exemplary of that, has done everything she can to understand and promote diversity, equity and inclusion, and we are so proud of her," said professor Jan LeBlanc Wicks, vice-chair of School of Journalism and Strategic Media and head of the ad/PR major.

Breana has been involved in a number of campus-wide DEI initiatives: she is a club president of DIYA (Diversity, Inclusion, and You Association) on campus since August 2021 and a Fulbright College DEI Student Ambassador representing the school since November 2021. She hopes to pursue a career in public relations after she graduates from the U of A.

About the School of Journalism and Strategic Media: The School of Journalism and Strategic Media is dedicated to excellence in teaching, research and media discourse. Students in our journalism degree programs receive instruction, guidance and access to hands-on experience from our seasoned, award-winning faculty and staff. Areas of study include news editorial and reporting, broadcast, public relations, advertising and digital media. @uarkjournalism



Jee Young Chung, assistant professor
School of Journalism and Strategic Media


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