Class of 2013, congratulations. Today we come together to celebrate our incredible achievements here at AU, and prepare to enter a brave new world of communications. I don't know about you, but I couldn't be more excited about this opportunity.
And that's because I believe that communications is more than just a career. It's a mandate for us to empower others, by telling the stories that impact them most.
In our brief time here at AU, we have each been empowered with the skills to tell these stories. We have developed our skills not only by learning from our professors, but by working with each other--our mentors and our peers--to put our skills into practice.
I have been so privileged to have been a leader of student media here at AU. For the many of us who have participated in student-run publications like ATV or The Eagle, we joined because we wanted to learn more about how to work in media, and to make lifelong friendships with our peers who shared our interests. Then, once we realized that student media helped us develop a passion for our work in communications, we stayed so that we could give back to our organizations and empower the next generation of student media leaders.
I have learned that as practitioners of communications, we each have the power to give a voice to those who have none. We can share a story that we care about and make thousands of people care about it. We can make a lasting impact on our culture and our understanding of our world, and of each other.
I remember in January of 2012, I was with a class of SOC students that reported from events at the New Hampshire primary. One morning a few of us went to a Ron Paul meet-and-greet event at a local diner for breakfast. But the diner was so overrun with reporters and cameras that Paul's security detail had to whisk him back to his motorcade before the event even started.
But that didn't stop one local woman from furiously expressing her disappointment and disbelief at the situation. While the rest of the media ran off to follow Paul like members of the paparazzi, one of my classmates took the initiative to interview this woman and learn her story, and learn about how she and her elderly mother took seriously their opportunity to meet with each candidate so they could make an informed vote. I learned a very meaningful lesson that day about the power that media can have to break through the noise of politics and celebrity, and connect with real people to tell their stories.
Today, we prepare to go out into the world empowered to use media to give a voice to these everyday people, and to do good in our society. Whether we create films or TV shows, write for newspapers or magazines, take photos or put out press releases, or simply spend our days figuring out how to convey messages in only 140 characters, we know our work will make others laugh, cry, or help them learn something new.
On Pennsylvania Avenue stands the iconic building of the Newseum, on which is etched the text of the First Amendment. Those revolutionary forty-five words guaranteeing our freedom of speech and of the press empower us to communicate freely. It is through our hard work that we ensure that we bring those freedoms to life, not just for our own benefit, but for everyone.
Class of 2013, let us go forth and use our skills to do good and to empower others. After all, our story is just beginning.
What have you gained from your time in SOC?
I used to be a lot more cynical about the state of media in our country, but my experience in SOC has helped me discover the real value of media, in all of its forms, to further our ability to communicate effectively with each other. In particular, my SOC experience has given me a new respect for the importance and relevance of local news media and the service that they provide to local communities across the country, which has helped me decide that that's where I want to pursue my future career interests.
What is the one experience you've had at AU/SOC that you feel will best prepare you for your future career/education/life?
It's really hard for me to narrow down to just one experience. However this past year, I took my ATV experience in a different direction by joining ATV News and becoming a beat reporter covering Student Government. And I think the most meaningful project that I've worked on at AU was an in-depth news package I produced last fall covering the campus debate over the university budget. The opportunity to explore a wide range of issues and viewpoints on a rather complex topic, and then present them to students in a way that would help them better understand the issues at hand was incredibly empowering and motivating for me. It really for the first time gave me that sense of passion and responsibility that is what being a journalist is all about.