New Public Relations Professor Brings 20 years of Experience, Life Lessons to the Classroom
Nancy Syzdek has come full-circle in becoming one of the new journalism professors at UNLV.
After growing up in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, Syzdek graduated from UNLV with her degree in political science in 1994.
Now, she’s returned to UNLV help students make strides in the field of public relations, a field worked in for 20 years.
“The opportunity became available and I put my name in,” she said. “I didn’t expect to get it, but then they offered me a full-time position and here I am.”
Syzdek originally wanted to write environmental policy and become a policy committee staffer in Washington D.C., but the future would hold different plans for her.
When she graduated from UNLV in the mid-1990s, Syzdek interned for Congresswoman Dina Titus. Shortly after the legislative session ended, Syzdek then went on to work full-time for U.S. Senator Richard Bryan.
“That’s where I got my first introduction into media relations,” she said. “If you would’ve told me back then I was going to be in public relations, I would’ve told you that you were crazy.”
After working for Senator Bryan, Syzdek worked as a contractor in government and media affairs on the Yucca Mountain project for the Nevada Department of Energy. From there, she moved to Denver and worked for the largest design multi-model transportation project in the U.S.
Her experience has also translated well to her students in the classroom.
“She’s a great instructor,” said student Danny Webster. “She’s very firm, but it’s a great thing. She uses a lot of examples in her teachings to make us think more outside of the box regarding ethics. She uses a wide variety of topics so that we can each relate to the situation.”
Syzdek currently serves on the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Board of Ethics and Professional Standards. In 2011, she was the chair of the Western District of the PRSA where she supervised a 10-person committee and planned a two-day conference with speakers from Google, Zappos and NPR.
Since 2008, she’s worked in corporate communications for JT3, a joint-venture company that provides engineering and technical support to the Air Force and Navy’s Joint Range Technical Services test and training ranges in Nevada, Utah and California.
Adjusting to life as a full-time instructor has been hectic for Syzdek, but she said she’s enjoyed it.
“I was very honored that they thought I had the right skills to match up to the students’ needs,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been a great challenge having to prep three classes from scratch. It’s a lot of work and I’ll never feel like I’m caught up, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
In the classroom, Syzdek wants to challenge her students to look at more than just what is.
“I’m hoping they can walk away with a bit of a process to make sound decisions or ask the right questions as they go forward,” she said. “I think they’ve become different consumers of news as well.”
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