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Honors Senior Harkeet Pannu Wins Edelman Award
Good Press [UPDATED]

Honors College senior Harkeet “Kittu” Pannu

Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, has named LSU Honors College senior Harkeet “Kittu” Pannu from Louisiana State University as the recipient of the 2012 Daniel J. Edelman/Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Award.

“The Daniel J. Edelman PRSSA award recognizes an outstanding student who best demonstrates the leadership, commitment and strong work ethic exemplified by my father to be successful in a career in public relations,” said John Edelman, managing director of Edelman’s global engagement and corporate responsibility. 

“Needless to say, I was on cloud nine when I got the call,” said twenty-one-year-old Pannu. “I was so happy about the amount of prestige and opportunity I had been able to bestow upon both Manship and the Honors College … I really could not have done any of this without the support of my colleges and family.”

Pannu is majoring in both biochemistry and public relations, working as an Entertainment writer at The Daily Reveille, and serving as the president of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) at LSU.  As an undergraduate, Pannu has maintained 3.5 GPA, served as a legislative aide at the Capitol, started a blog, interned at Warner Brothers in Los Angeles, and studied abroad in Europe.

He is also involved in campus activities as resident assistant to Residential Life, member-at-large of Belle Terre Civic Association and group leader for the Honors College Service Initiative. 

He insists that he’s not an overachiever. 

During his time at LSU, Pannu has certainly achieved a lot.  When he was still only a freshman majoring in biology, he got a job working alongside representatives and senators as an aide at the Jefferson Delegation Office at the Capitol.

“I started as a biology major [because] I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I came to college, and I truly haven’t ruled it out of my life, but Political Communications was the first major I pursued that I thought would be a legitimate career for me,” he said. “I was drawn in by the idea of creating a message that will affect so many different people.”

At the Capitol, Pannu wrote memos, sat in on meetings, and got a firsthand look inside the legislative process. Although Pannu enjoyed the work, his time as a legislative aide ultimately made him realize that he didn’t want to pursue a career in politics.

Immediately following his internship at the Capitol, Pannu embarked on a summer study abroad trip to Europe, where he traveled to Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Dresden, Budapest, and Vienna.

In Europe, he took courses on German Culture and Introduction to Mass Media — and the latter led him to a new path and a new major: Public Relations.

“In Public Relations, you can kind of pick and choose which fields you want to go into,” he said. “I feel like people do not give PR practitioners the benefit of the doubt — we’re not all there to ‘spin,’ … and I’ve noticed a lot of PR practitioners who actually do go out of their way to be advocates for various causes.”

Since finding a field that allows him to do what he does best, Pannu has been more determined than ever, and his hard work has paid off.  While attending the PRSSA National Conference in Washington last year, he met the publicist for the CW network, who asked for his business card. 

A few months later, he was driving to Los Angeles to start his internship with Warner Brothers Consumer Products, Worldwide Marketing and Public Relations Department. 

“Before my time at Warner Brothers, I had never gained so much hands-on PR experience — they entrusted me with a lot of responsibilities and I was really proud of that,” he said. “I worked on press releases for Green Lantern, I got to plan the Harry Potter premieres … I got to craft tweets for the ThunderCats Twitter, and I helped plan the Supergirl Pro Junior Surf Contest … It was such an amazing opportunity, and I learned a lot.”

As winner of the prestigious Edleman Award, Pannu will receive a $500 cash award along with a paid, three-month internship at one of Edelman’s U.S. offices. After starting his internship, he will receive an additional $1000 cash bonus.

He’s not sure yet whether or not he’s going to medical school, graduate school, or business school, but no matter what decision he makes, he knows his family and friends will be supportive.

“My parents want me to experience life to its fullest, and they always want me to finish things that I start,” he said. “I think that’s been the biggest influence on me in my life… I believe that if you haven’t tried something, you need to try it before you discount it — do what you want to do, and never regret taking choices that you have.”


Story by Elizabeth Clausen, LSU Honors College

For more information, contact the Honors College at 225-578-8831.

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