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Barry Gordemer

Barry Gordemer Message to the class of 2012

Well, here we are. It’s hard to believe it’s over. Professor Amy Eisman said it would go by fast. She wasn’t kidding.  

I’d like to talk about something I know we’ve all experienced at American University, terror. When you feel your heart beating in your chest, it’s usually a sign that something meaningful in your life is happening and over these past two years AUs has gotten my pulse racing a number of times.  

I work in broadcast news and over my 30-year career I’ve helped cover five presidents, two gulf wars, September 11th, and hurricane Katrina. I’m used to measuring deadlines not by hours, but by minutes and even seconds. 

I’ve often said that covering breaking news is like bungee jumping. At the time you’re doing it it’s terrifying, but after it’s all over there’s this incredible rush, this incredible feeling of accomplishment and a sense that you’ve done something meaningful.  

That’s the feeling I’ve gotten a number of times at AU. I remember the intensity of Melanie Bender’s web studio class as she hurled snippets of HTML code at us like 90-mile-an-hour fastballs.  I remember feeling my pulse in my fingertips as I typed up in-class reporting assignments in Amy Eisman’s writing course. I also remember—after exhaling—the feeling of pride and accomplishment.  

This would be a good time, on behalf of all my classmates, to thank the world-class teachers who generously shared their talents and got my blood flowing. I’d like to give special mention to a few of them. First, the aforementioned Melanie Bender who, on day one, set the tone and standard not only for her class but the entire program. And she was the first to scare the pants off me. 

I’d also like to thank Ashley Messenger who combined the complexities of communications law with a wickedly wonderful sense of humor.  

And finally, I’d like to thank Amy Eisman for her infectious smile and boundless enthusiasm. She’s given me the support and encouragement I need to move forward in pursuit of a career as a teacher.   

As you move forward with your lives and careers, remember the leap you took when you decided to come to American University. It was a big decision. It was like committing to a bungee jump and not knowing if you’d hit bottom or have enough elasticity to land in the right place.  

Remember the plunge you took and be proud. Remember how you leaned to not only conquer the rapid heartbeats but to look forward to them.  

You made it. We made it.  

The bungee jump is over. Enjoy the rush.  Here’s to the next leap.

What have you gained from your time in SOC?

The SOC has strengthened my foundation. Over the course of my 30 years in broadcasting, I learned by doing. I learned by getting it wrong over and over again.  These days, I get it right more than I get it wrong, but it wasn’t until my time at American University that I understood why I know what I know.  

AU has helped me better understand the underlying principles of journalism and given me a greater appreciation for what I do every day.

What is the one experience you’ve had at AU/SOC that you feel will best prepare you for your future career/education/life?

I had a wonderful encounter with a lovely lady named Iris. Iris is an orangutan. For Professor Amy Eisman’s class on writing for convergent media, I wrote a story on primate research at the National Zoo. Iris is part of a study on how apes learn. 

The study was detailed and it required me to distill complex concepts into clear and concise language. It required me to carefully think through each word of each sentence. It was a challenging and rewarding experience, an experience I will carry with me through the rest of my career. 

Plus, it left me with a craving for bananas.