Southeast Student Receives Ofield Dukes Multicultural Student Award at PRSA/PRSSA Conference


A Southeast Missouri State University student was honored with the Ofield Dukes Multicultural Student Award at the PRSA/PRSSA Conference Oct. 6-10 in Boston.

Sydney Rodgers of St. Louis, Missouri, a mass communication major, public relations option, accepted the award which carries with it a $1,000 scholarship made possible by the PRSA Foundation with founding donors Prudential Financial and Weber-Shandwick.

“It means a great deal for me to be selected as the recipient of the Ofield Dukes Student Award from the Public Relations Society of America,” Rodgers said. “As a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America-Southeast chapter it feels great to be recognized for my efforts and achievements in my sector. This is only the beginning to what I would like to accomplish in public relations.”

The award is presented to a student enrolled in a journalism or public relations program who is preparing for a career in public relations. The recipient must be at least a junior with a minimum 3.0 grade point average who has demonstrated commitment to service and social responsibility as personified by Ofield Dukes and have African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native American, Alaskan Native or Pacific Islander ancestry.

Rodgers was selected for her academic achievement in public relations and overall studies, writing skills, record of awards and commitment to service and social responsibility. She is marketing manager of the Southeast Arrow newspaper, and has interned with Mekky Media Relations in Chicago, the Public Relations Student Society of American-Southeast Chapter, and Allied Integrated Marketing-St. Louis.

She has participated in Southeast’s First Year Leadership Program, the Emerging Leaders Program, the Presidential Leadership Academy and the St. Louis Sue Sheer Academy, and she has done volunteer work for a number of organizations. She also has served as a PRSSA National Assembly delegate, been named to the Dean’s List and received the LaGrant Foundation Diversity Scholarship.

Rodgers plans to graduate from Southeast in 2018.

Dr. Susan Gonders, professor of mass media and public relations options coordinator at Southeast, said, she is not surprised Rodgers received this honor.

“She has taken the initiative to excel since she first declared her major in mass communication/public relations,” Gonders said. “In her first year, she was selected to represent our chapter at the PRSSA National Assembly in Austin, Texas. Since then, she has been a dynamic leader who has facilitated the involvement of other students in the professional development opportunities of PRSSA. She also has been a productive member of the student newspaper staff and has gone far beyond the norm in her professional development activities. She is a role model to her peers and brings distinction to our University with this award.”

The PRSA Foundation created this award in honor of Ofield Dukes who died in 2011 and was an honorary trustee of the Foundation and a widely recognized leader in the public relations profession.

“Ofield Dukes’ career achievements have been widely chronicled, and he’s recognized as one of the giants of our profession,” said 2013 PRSA Foundation President Lou Capozzi APR, Fellow PRSA. “Those of us who were privileged to work with him through the years knew him as a champion to literally thousands of students and professionals, who turned to him for counsel and inspiration. His work toward making our profession as diverse as the world we serve was unparalleled.”

The scholarship is a legacy to Ofield and reflects his values for excellence in the ethical practice of public relations and his lifelong commitment to helping others.

Weber Shandwick’s CEO Andy Polansky, also a PRSA Foundation trustee, has noted that, “Olfield Dukes made a positive and enduring contribution to the public relations profession and helped to make diversity a priority – opening the door to real dialogue, programs and commitment for the industry throughout his lifetime.”

Dukes’ daughter, Roxi Victorian, has said, said her father’s legacy and his passion for the education of young people lives on through this award.