newsId: 844EB224-5056-AF26-BE1DC601BD5BF973
Title: Jessie Smith - Message to Fellow Graduates
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Abstract: Jessie Smith has a message for her fellow 2017 graduates.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 05/15/2017
Content:

Jessie Smith 

MA in Strategic Communication

Well, guys – I can honestly say there’s no other place I would have wanted to be this past year. Don’t get me wrong - any year I would have been lucky to be in school with you guys. You’re some of the most brilliant and creative minds I’ve ever encountered. But this year in particular – I feel like we were together, right now, for a reason.

The crazy thing is - I almost missed out on this incredible experience. For my entire life, I thought I was going to go to medical school! In college, communications began tugging at my heart, and for so many years I kept pulling back, wishing it would stop and leave me and my MCAT books in (miserable) peace. But those stubborn little tugs wore and wore, and I finally gave in. By early 2016 I was ready to take the initiative and apply. I would soon be completely enamored with the field of health communications.

“Initiative.” In the dictionary it’s defined as, “an act or strategy intended to resolve a difficulty, or improve a situation.” It’s an attribute that we each strive for in school, at work and in life overall, right? This past year or so, though, the term “initiative” has meant something more. It’s felt like something more. And I know I’m not alone in this. I know because I was with you - and we felt this together.

We have experienced an extraordinary time together as peers, and more importantly, as friends. We celebrated triumphs, supported each other through sadness and confusion, and when differences arose, we truly listened to each other, and became better people for it. Inspired and motivated by each other, we knew this world needed us, and individually and collectively - we took action.

Lucky for us, taking action isn’t difficult when you’re surrounded by our impassioned, trail-blazing faculty. You have Professor [Caty Borum] Chattoo’s “Rise Up for Social Change” initiative exploring important topics such as education and healthcare. You have Professor [Angie] Chuang leading conversations on contemporary themes like American Otherness, and you have an investigative reporter, Professor [John] Sullivan, who provides the amazing opportunity in his practicum class for us to work at his side at the Washington Post during this peculiar time in journalism.

Here, at SOC, we have received training from one of the best communications programs in the world. With mastery of the great power of writing, speech, and film, my hope is that we never take these skills for granted. As we move into the next phase and beyond, let’s not forget this unique time we spent together, the way we felt, and the bonds we formed. Whatever path you go, and whatever work you do - remember to use your voice for unity, and for good. Vow to take that initiative. After all, our world is what we make it.

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Title: MTVU Campus Takeover Hits AU
Author: Juliana Yellin
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Abstract: MTVU Campus Takeover Hits AU, student gain invaluable experience
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 05/11/2017
Content:

Arshum Rouhanian, a junior studying Film and Media Arts who wants to direct music videos one day, saw his work broadcast and got a lot of experience, fast, when MTVU Campus Takeover Project came to American University this spring. MTVU travels to different college campuses in the US and broadcasts content online and to campuses about college life from the perspective of students. Rouhanian heard about the opportunity through his membership at the AU chapter of Delta Kappa Alpha, the national professional cinema fraternity.

Rouhanian was assigned to co-produce a segment called Professors Read Bad Reviews from emailing professors to filming to editing. He was surprised by “how little sense of humor some professors have!” He said that, “for every 10 professors we reached out to, only 2 or 3 agreed [to participate]. Some professors weren't flattered at all with the offer. But the ones who did agree had so much fun with the concept.”

Professors Read Bad Reviews

Not only was the project exciting to work on, it was also a fantastic educational experience. Rouhanian learned the importance of “quick cuts and…large quirky texts” when communicating with a young audience to fight back against a “low attention span.” He has gotten great feedback on his work so far and says students are excited to see their favorite professors featured. “Seeing people I didn't even know share the video on their Facebook feeds was very exciting.”

He said he is most proud of “the framing and lighting of each shot” in the Professors Read Bad Reviews segment and is happy with the result. “I think we managed to capture both the professor's office to get a glimpse of their personality, as well as their genuine reactions to reading bad reviews about themselves.”

Rouhanian’s favorite segment in the AU Campus Takeover is Mob the Quad, which shows four guys ambushing students on campus with quirky questions like, “What would you ban if you were President?” Roushanian said, “Those guys are hilarious and are going to make it big one day!”

Mob The Quad

He is deeply grateful for MTVU for this opportunity and finished by saying,“There was no cooler feeling than seeing something I made broadcast on TV. Seriously, I can't thank MTVU enough for this opportunity. As a filmmaker, my goal is to become a music video director... So hopefully this isn't the last time I see something I made air on their network.” He’s on the right path; this summer, Rouhanian has an internship at Capital Records in LA.

 

 

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Title: Students Hit the White House Correspondents' Dinner
Author: Mirchaye Woldeleoul
Subtitle:
Abstract: Four stand out American University journalism students were seated among the celebrities, journalists and political luminaries at this year’s WHCA dinner.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 05/11/2017
Content:

Four stand out American University (AU) journalism students were seated among the celebrities, journalists and political luminaries at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Daniel Barnes, Stephen Pienciak, Shannon Scovel and Anagha Srikanth were guests of CNN.

“Sitting at a table with members of the CNN digital and production team, Scovel felt encouraged in her choice to pursue journalism.

“The kindness and support from the CNN journalists, along with the overall message at the dinner about the importance of the First Amendment, inspired me to pursue journalism with an even stronger passion,” she said, “The fact that we were extended invitations sends a strong message to the public that journalism isn't dying, and the next generation has something to offer to this field.”

Justin Bernstine, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Academic Services, explained that the students were selected by a committee of journalism faculty and SOC staff members. The selecting committee looked at the students’ academic and professional achievements, as well as their service to the AU and SOC community.

“As these journalism students prepare to graduate from AU, this was a wonderful opportunity for them to network with journalists and hear from titans of the field, including Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, about the continued importance of the journalism profession in our democracy,” Bernstine said.

Stephen Pienciak describes being surrounded by journalists he had great respect for as a “surreal experience.”

Pienciak noted that this year’s dinner was somehow different than previous years. “Everyone was actually more excited for this year’s dinner because it got the focus back on journalism and away from the glitz and glamor of Hollywood,” he said.

The students were invited to the CNN Washington Bureau the day before the dinner for a tour and a meet and greet with CNN Washington’s anchors, correspondents and executives.

Barnes said that he was wondering what a White House Correspondent’s dinner would look like without the President there.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect this year since Trump wasn’t going, but I thought the Association handled it pretty well,” Barnes said. 

Stephen Pienciak and Wolf Blitzer
Stephen Pienciak and Wolf Blitzer

Scovel said that the Correspondent's Dinner was nothing like she had expected. “I had seen the White House Correspondent's dinner on TV in the past, but when they show the dinner on TV, they don't show every table, every conversation and all of the connections and celebration that occur on an individual level during the event,” Scovel said.

For Anagha Srikanth it was an honor to be at the dinner surrounded by so many accomplished journalists, but what really made the night special for her was the man who delivered the keynote speech.

She explained, “As a first generation Indian American immigrant, having Hassan Minhaj - a man who shared the same minority background as me - speaking to our experience during this time,” was really special.

 

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Title: Class Makes Media for NBC
Author: Juliana Yellin
Subtitle:
Abstract: Studio Television Production course gives students the opportunity to produce original webisodes for NBC4 and produce a live educational game show.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 05/10/2017
Content:

Professor Sarah Menke-Fish’s Studio Television Production course gives students the opportunity to produce original webisodes for NBC4 and produce a live educational game show. From director, technical director, audio engineer to teleprompter operator, camera operator, floor manager, producer and master control, — students do it all and more in this hands-on course. Students rotate roles and the experience prepares them for entry level TV production positions.

Students also have to pitch their original short TV series concepts to NBC4-Washington for a shot at development by the class. After completing the TV Studio Production course, Menke-Fish wants students to leave with an understanding of the production process and industry experience.

This semester, students produced two shows for NBC 4, titled Walk This Way and Eco DC; and a live game show called Why Don’t You Love Me?

Michelle Coker, a Film and Electronic Media MFA student said that the class is unique. She said she has, “never done anything like this before.” The experience broadened her interest in TV production and helped her make valuable connections in the media industry.

Studio Television Production students prepare to shoot an episode of Why Don't You Love Me on set
Studio Television Production students shoot an episode for NBC 4

Another MFA student, Kayeen Thomas, described the course as challenging and says, “the end result is always good.” He thinks the course has been an “insightful” experience and he especially liked that he got the opportunity to show his non-films friends his work and what life as a film student is like.

Arshum Rouhanian, who is an undergraduate film and media arts major, says that beyond the skills, the course has given him a great opportunity to bond with his peers. “This is the closest I have ever felt with a class,” he said. He also loves the hands-on experience of the course and is grateful for Professor Menke-Fish’s helpful advice.

The TV Studio Production Class has been collaborating with NBC 4 every semester since 2009 to produce original content, including Metro Monsters in 2009, Flavortones in 2010, and Weather Hacks and Tourist Traps 2016.

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Title: Killian G. MacDonald - Message to Fellow Students
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Abstract: Killian G. MacDonald has a message for her fellow graduating students
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 05/08/2017
Content:

Killian G. MacDonald

Public Communication & Religious Studies (Dual Degree)

Before I was asked to write this message, I thought nothing could be more difficult than an assignment from professor Watson. However, now I've been charged with covering everything I love about SOC in just 500 words!

Professor Watson, even you weren't that tough!

Professor Chattoo once shared a favorite quote of hers from an idol of mine, Joseph Campbell. He said, "Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open."

What immediately struck me was that here at SOC we have the gift of professors and administrators who are continually opening doors that guide us to what will most enrich our lives.

Every experience, from internships to study abroad adventures, enhanced every class we shared. The SOC requirement for a second major or minor is a brilliant way to open even more doors, because as a class we gained exponential exposure to other fields of study. For example, as my peers followed their own bliss, they taught me everything from environmental policy and global finance to computer science.

Today, I'm writing about my own experience as a proxy for all of us.

The SOC community helped me see doors when I thought I was in dead-end hallways. Those doors led me to China, India, Thailand, and a semester working at APCO worldwide, a global communications firm founded by AU alumna Margery Kraus.

Professor Doshi, your own passion for public diplomacy inspired me to spend a summer running external communications for the state department's office of religion and global affairs.

And professor Kirkman, talk about the ultimate way to open doors – you taught us all to be networking ninjas. From that, I landed a dream internship on the protocol team at Homeland Security and spent time supporting global leaders such as Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Loretta lynch.

Thanks to the scheduling wizardry of my advisor Tara Flakker, I'm coming out with two degrees and a minor.

Professor Chattoo, you gave me the courage to combine those degrees and my love of fiction into one capstone. When my young adult novel is published, and helping fight Islamophobia in America, know it never would have happened without your dedication to a student with one crazy idea.

Many of us are familiar with the Buddha's quote, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." And Dean Rutenbeck's leadership fosters an organization that enables just that.

Here at SOC, we've learned there is no such thing as leadership without communication. We'll be the ones who tell stories that capture imaginations. We'll work collaboratively to help disparate groups come together. We'll craft beautiful films, and hit every detail on the next groundbreaking journalistic expose.

As we graduate, I'm excited to stand beside each of you.

Tomorrow, as we set out to shape the world, I'll be excited to see what doors we hold open for those who come behind us.

Congratulations to the class of 2017!

Learn more about the BA in Public Relations and Strategic Communication
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Title: Alumni Linda Daly and Jackie Cirillo Meisenberg
Author: Helen Dodson
Subtitle:
Abstract: Best friends, and supporters of the College
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 05/05/2017
Content:

For Linda Daly and Jackie Cirillo Meisenberg, decades of friendship began with a horrendous haircut. The year was 1984. Linda was a freshman and Jackie a sophomore at American University, both living on the third floor of Hughes Hall.

Jackie had just gotten what she calls a "part mullet, part punk rock" fiasco of a haircut, with a perm added in for good measure. She stood in front of the mirror of the third-floor bathroom, screaming, "Can you believe how horrible my hair looks?" Linda thought it looked a little orange, but what she said was, "It's not so bad." In that moment of kindness, a deep and lasting friendship was born.

Daly and Cirillo Meisenberg soon became roommates, sharing an off-campus apartment with another Hughes friend, Linda Lupo Rodriguez.

Daly graduated in 1990 from the College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in literature, and Cirillo Meisenberg in 1987 from the School of Communication. Today, they are still best friends who text every day, talk every few weeks, and see each other once or twice a year. And both are deeply involved with the College of Arts and Sciences.

Life took them to separate coasts and careers after graduation. Daly went west to Los Angeles, where she taught children with learning disabilities. She was also a freelance writer, and worked with non-profit and international relief organizations. In 2014, she published her first book, The Last Pilgrimage: My Mother's Life and Our Journey to Saying Goodbye, a moving chronicle of her mother's battle with pancreatic cancer.

Cirillo Meisenberg launched an advertising career in New York until her daughter Hannah was born. She is currently on the advisory board for Big Brothers Big Sisters in Westchester County.

As the years passed, both decided to renew their relationship with their alma mater. Cirillo Meisenberg says she "fell in love with it all over again." The love was catching: her daughter (and Linda's god- daughter) Hannah enrolled in the College, earning a degree in art history in 2015. She now works at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan.

Today, both women contribute significantly to AU students through their support of scholarship and the Academic Support and Access Center, which helps students succeed. Daly says, "School was extremely difficult for me. But AU was extremely supportive when I needed help. I will always be grateful." Cirillo Meisenberg is also a founding co-chair of the Legacy Alumni Network, along with their third roommate, Linda Lupo Rodriguez.

AU's academic services were also of help to Cirillo Meisenberg's daughter Hannah. "Our gift to CAS," Cirillo Meisenberg says, "is a thank you to its professors and administration for providing not only Hannah, but all of its students, the opportunity to pursue their academic passions."

Both women are also members of the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Council, parents and alumni who provide guidance on College initiatives.

When the two friends look back on their college years, they are thankful. "I met my best friend there," says Daly. Cirillo Meisenberg says, "As I get older, it becomes more and more apparent that AU was one of the most important experiences of my life. It's where I met my best friend Linda." 

Tags: Academic Services,Academic Support Center,Alumni,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,CAS Connections,College of Arts and Sciences,Legacy,Literature,School of Communication
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Title: POLITICO Fellowship Goes to American University Student
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Abstract: An American University journalism student, has been named the 2017 fellow for the POLITICO Journalism Institute program which aims to increase and support diversity in Washington newsrooms.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 05/04/2017
Content:

Ambar Pardilla, an American University (AU) journalism student, has been named a 2017 fellow for POLITICO Journalism Institute (PJI) program which aims to increase and support diversity in Washington newsrooms. For the past four years POLITICO has partnered with AU School of Communication to hold this intensive program for students interested in covering stories on government and politics.  

Selected students will get the opportunity to experience interactive lectures, listen to panels with industry leaders, gain a valuable mentor through pairings with POLITICO journalists, and the potential to get their work published by POLITICO.

American University and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education will again aid in the development of the program's curriculum, select applicants and facilitate classroom sessions.

Jeffrey Rutenbeck, dean of the American University School of Communication stated, "Our partnership with POLITICO continues to play a crucial role in identifying and empowering the next generation of storytellers who will take the profession to the next level"

When PJI concludes, the POLITICO Residency Program will give two students the opportunity to write, edit and produce content during a three month residency in the POLITICO newsroom.

The entire program is free for participants, including room, board and transportation. During the program, students will spend their time both at American University in Washington, D.C. and POLITICO headquarters in Arlington, Va. The residency positions are paid.

Read about last year's fellow, Alejandro Alvarez.



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Title: Bloomberg BNA Bureau Chief Named Outstanding Adjunct
Author:
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Abstract: SOC sat down with Paul Albergo to ask a few questions about his work at Bloomberg and teaching at AU.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 05/03/2017
Content:

Paul Albergo is bureau chief for Bloomberg BNA, a subsidiary of Bloomberg L.P., which provides professionals with a unique of news and authoritative analysis, comprehensive research solutions, and proprietary business data and analytics. He is also an adjunct professor of journalism at American University School of Communication (AU SOC), and he recently was honored for outstanding teaching in an adjunct appointment by the Provost.

For many years now, Albergo has served as an advisor to the AU chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, the national co-ed service fraternity. “It’s profile on campus is low, but it’s impact is big. These are an incredible group of young women and men who fan out across the D.C. area trying to make this city a better place. I’m not doing anything special with them. I just like to recognize these incredible students whenever,” he said.

SOC sat down with him recently to ask a few questions about his work at Bloomberg and teaching at AU.

What valuable and difficult lessons would you say you have learned as a journalist?

Early in my career, I fell into that common trap of viewing the world in black and white, in a bipolar way. You are right or wrong, red or blue, left or right, this side or that side. Of course, the world is much messier than that. My company’s audience won’t tolerate that sort of naïve view of the world, especially of Washington. My editors pushed me to embrace the complex, messy reality of the areas I covered (pushed is a nice way of describing it). It’s much harder to capture that messiness in an 800-to-1,000-word story, but you do offer a more honest look at whatever issue you are covering.

Would you say teaching was a natural progression in your career?

I originally imagined myself teaching. Journalism was supposed to be a short-term thing, a way for me to save up money so I could finish my Ph.D. in history. I didn’t count on falling in love with the work. Once I caught the news bug, I pretty much forgot about that Ph.D. Being on the front lines as history unfolded became much more interesting to me than studying it. I am grateful that Rose Ann Robertson took a chance on me in 2000. She gave me the opportunity to marry my career in news with my original interest in teaching. I will say that journalism and teaching share much in common. You need to know your audience so you can give it the information it needs. You need to break down that information in a way in a logical, coherent way. And, to be successful, you need to wrap that information in a compelling story.

How did you manage your longevity with Bloomberg BNA?

This month I celebrate my 31st anniversary with BNA. If I didn’t imagine remaining in journalism long, I assure you I never planned to stay at any organization for over three decades.  

As I said before, I’ve had a front-row seat to history. Among other issues, I’ve covered the incredible transformation of the Medicare program; the evolution of retirement plans from traditional pensions to 401(k)s; the long birth of the Family and Medical Leave Act; the various attempts at health care reform, from before the Clinton proposal right through Obamacare and now the American Health Care Act; the enactment of the Patriot Act; the financial collapse of 2008 and the response, including Dodd-Frank. It’s been incredible.

But, I could have covered any of those at many other news outlets. I stayed at BNA for one reason: it’s a great place to work. It’s full of smart people, and it treats those people well. And, its approach to news is as smart as its people: we cover Washington seriously, focusing deeply on policy while avoiding the spectacle of personalities and scandal. Our acquisition by Bloomberg in 2011 hasn’t changed that. I may not be an AU alumnus, but the wonk moniker fits me. You might even call me a geek. Bloomberg BNA has been a perfect fit for me.

Is there any particular advice you would give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career path?

You need to know the craft of journalism to launch your career. To grow and sustain that career, you need an insatiable curiosity. The best journalists are those that read broadly, understand history, expose themselves to a diversity of voices and viewpoints—even unpleasant ones, and engage in the world through volunteerism and exploration.

Follow Paul Albergo on twitter @palbergo

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Title: American University Announces Spring 2017 Commencement Speakers
Author: Kelly Alexander
Subtitle:
Abstract: Ceremonies will take place in American University’s Bender Arena and feature an impressive roster of commencement speakers.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 05/02/2017
Content:

American University will hold to tradition and host its 133rd commencement ceremonies on Mother’s Day weekend. The ceremonies will take place in AU’s Bender Arena and feature an impressive roster of commencement speakers who will offer advice and congratulations to roughly 3,500 graduates. AU’s 2017 commencement speakers demonstrate compassion, integrity, and unwavering commitment to public service. Individual school ceremonies will be held on May 13 and 14, followed by a ceremony for the Washington College of Law graduates on May 21.

The Honorable Patricia Harrison, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), will address the graduates of the School of Public Affairs at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 13. Honored for her commitment to diversity, Harrison established the first Diversity and Innovation Fund for public media—radio, television, online and mobile. Under her leadership, CPB launched American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen, a nationwide public media initiative to help communities across the country identify and implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis, and has been named to the Forbes list of “Women Changing the World in Media” for her efforts to empower women and girls globally.

Ms. Harrison has served as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs and Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, and she is the author of two books, A Seat At The Table: An Insider's Guide for America's New Women Leaders and America's New Women Entrepreneurs. The Honorable Patricia Harrison, an alumna of American University’s College of Arts and Sciences, will receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.

Sir Howard Stringer, former President of CBS and former CEO of the Sony Corporation, will address the graduates of the School of Communication at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, May 13. As long-time journalist, news producer, and head of CBS News, Stringer may be best-known for bringing David Letterman to CBS.

Mr. Stringer has been a recipient of the First Amendment Leadership Award from the Radio & Television News Directors Foundation and the Visionary Award for Innovative Leadership in Media and Entertainment from the Paley Center for Media. He is a member of the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. Sir Howard Stringer will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Patricia Q. Stonesifer, Volunteer President and CEO of Martha’s Table and Lead Director of the corporate board of Amazon.com, will address the graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences, at 6 p.m., Saturday, May 13. After more than twenty years as a leader in the technology industry and the next twelve years building the world’s largest foundation, Ms. Stonesifer joined Martha’s Table in 2013 to help America’s neediest youth and their family members.

Ms. Stonesifer has been a leader in the philanthropic world since 1997. As founding CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, she distributed more than $2 billion annually to public-private partnerships working to improve the health and welfare of vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad. She serves on the board of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and, in 2010, was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the Chair of the White House Council for Community Solutions. She served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS. Ms. Stonesifer will receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.

Carlos Carrazana, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Save the Children Federation, Incorporated, will address the graduates of the Kogod School of Business, at 10 a.m., Sunday, May 14. Prior to joining Save the Children, Carrazana served as a Vice President of the International Health Division at Abt Associates Inc., a global human development organization, and spent more than 20 years in the commercial banking sector and in international health.

Mr. Carrazana served as the Director of the Summa Foundation at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu's emerging markets division, as a Director of the NIH-funded National Initiatives on Cancer Project at the University of Miami School of Medicine, and as a Director of the CDC-funded M-Powerment project, an HIV/AIDS prevention and voluntary counseling and testing program. Mr. Carazzana is an alumnus of American University's Kogod School of Business and he will receive an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree.

Lakhdar Brahimi, former United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary General, will address the graduates of the School of International Service, at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, May 14. A former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria from 1991 to 1993, Brahimi is one of that country’s most prominent diplomats and negotiators.

Mr. Brahimi served as the U.N. Special Adviser to the Secretary General in 2004-2005. He was Algeria’s Ambassador to Egypt and the United Kingdom, and helped to negotiate the end of the Lebanese civil war as an Arab League official. He also oversaw the U.N. Observer Mission during the 1994 election in South Africa, helped to end Yemen’s civil war that same year, and has led the U.N. initiatives in Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, and across Africa. He is a member of The Elders, a group of retired Statesmen created by the late South African President Nelson Mandela, and a member of the Global Leadership Foundation, founded and chaired by F.W. De Klerk. Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi will receive an honorary Doctor of International Affairs degree.

Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), will address graduates of the Washington College of Law at 1 p.m., Sunday, May 21. Mr. Stevenson, a member of the New York University School of Law faculty, has spent more than three decades representing capital-case and death-row prisoners across the American South.

His work has won him national acclaim, including the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship Award Prize in 1995, the ACLU National Medal of Liberty in 1991, and the Olaf Palme Prize for international human rights in 2000. In 1996, the National Association of Public Interest Lawyers named him the Public Interest Lawyer of the Year. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Just Mercy, which won the 2015 Carnegie Medal for Best Non-Fiction, the NAACP Image Award for Best Non-Fiction, and was named by Time Magazine as one of the 10 Best Books of Nonfiction for 2014. Bryan Stevenson will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree.

More information on the speakers is available on AU’s commencement website. Students, alumni friends, and family will be tweeting using the hashtag #2017AUGrad. Those who cannot attend the ceremonies will be able to watch a live stream of each ceremony on AU’s commencement website.

Tags: College of Arts and Sciences,Commencement,Kogod School of Business,Media Relations,School of Communication,School of Education, Teaching and Health,School of International Service,School of Prof & Extd Studies,School of Public Affairs,Washington College of Law
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Title: Lapping the Field: Shannon Scovel Wins the President’s Award
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: The journalism major and swimmer has earned the highest honor for undergraduates.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 05/01/2017
Content:

When she was initially applying for colleges, Shannon Scovel was thorough. In a part college tour-part fun excursion, Scovel and her mother visited 22 different schools. After arriving at American University, she observed some student character traits that she hoped to emulate.

“I was so impressed by everyone on campus,” Scovel says now. “And I remember thinking, ‘This is very fast-paced. People are so passionate. I hope I can be that accomplished by the time I graduate.’”

Years later, she’s passed that test with flying colors, earning the top distinction for undergraduate students at AU. Scovel is this year’s recipient of the President’s Award, given to a graduating student whose accomplishments are truly exceptional and reflect AU’s highest ideals.

“It was all such a whirlwind. I didn’t actually think that this was something that I could win,” she says.

Student-Athlete

Yet, looking at her résumé, getting this award is less surprising than how she managed to navigate such a loaded schedule. She was on the swim team for four years—eventually becoming team captain—and she’s set to graduate with nearly a 4.0 GPA. She also worked at The Eagle and served as editor-in-chief in 2015-2016.

In her view, athletics fueled her scholastic achievements. “I think swimming really helped. I had a team, so I was accountable to them. I was doing my academics for me, but I was also doing it for the team,” she says.

The Patriot League publishes everyone’s spring semester GPA, and AU Swimming and Diving Coach Mark Davin incorporates academics into the team culture. “There’s a sense of pride in doing well in the classroom,” she notes.

Going the Extra Mile

For Scovel, it wasn’t just about getting A’s. She’s learned how much she enjoys learning. “That’s something I didn’t know about myself. I didn’t realize I was that academic-minded. I knew I liked school, but I didn’t know that I’d definitely want to continue with it after college,” she says.

She’ll now go to Scotland on a Fulbright scholarship, pursuing her master’s degree in gender studies from University of Stirling. Scovel will continue to focus on her primary interest: media representation of women in sports.

She wrote her AU Honors capstone on that same subject, and she interviewed 25 women and men about sports media—from writers and editors to scholars and athletes. She even got some email insights from Olympic gold medalist swimmer Missy Franklin.

School of Communication Assistant Professor Christine Lawrence, who was Scovel’s adviser for the capstone, praises her discipline and commitment. “She’s just what you want someone in journalism to be. She’s persistent and is willing to call anybody to get the information that she needs,” says Lawrence. “She did remarkable work on that project.”

Why are women underrepresented in sports coverage? Among other findings, Scovel points to the fact that about 91 percent of sports editors are men. “Until that number goes down, and there’s more equality there, we’ll never see more coverage of female athletes,” argues Scovel.

Scovel can now be a part of that change, and she lauds AU for helping her on that path. Adjunct Professor Don Markus helped her decide she wanted to be a sportswriter. And SOC Professor Rodger Streitmatter’s “Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Media” class had a formative impact on her. “That was the first course where I realized that I can use journalism to advocate for gender equality, without being an activist,” she says. “I can just use my writing to showcase inequalities.”

She also got job experience interning with Sports Illustrated and USA TODAY. And AU connections opened up other opportunities, like reporting from the Washington Wizards locker room and a recent trip to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

“It’s just things that you can’t possibly read about in a brochure. They’re such unique things that are offered by professors who just really care and want to put you out into the real world,” she says. “SOC and AU have been so good to me. I can’t even express enough gratitude.”

Scovel will earn her bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in political science. She’d love to do longform Olympic sports reporting, and she’s contemplating a future in academia.

The Long and the Short of It

In a sense, AU was the culmination of a dream she had since she was seven years old. Her parents were athletes at University of Maryland, College Park—her mom was a gymnast and her dad was a wrestler. Growing up in Cary, North Carolina, Scovel also yearned to compete at the collegiate level, and she’d found her sport of choice in the swimming pool. “It’s a sport that really requires you to dig deep and push yourself, and I thought that was so thrilling. So I kept going with it.”

At AU, she swam the distance freestyle, and she seems to have taken the long view throughout her life. But she didn’t divert her eyes from the tasks right in front of her.

When she recently got the call that she won the President’s Award, she was walking to her public speaking class for her last assignment. She was ecstatic about getting the award, and she called both her mother and father to share her moment with them. But Scovel didn’t have time to celebrate, and she kept the conversations brief. It was time to go to class, to give that one final speech.

Tags: Commencement,Featured News,Journalism,Office of Campus Life,President's Award,Provost,School of Communication
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Title: AU Launches Crowdfunding Platform
Author: Joanna Platt
Subtitle:
Abstract: UFUND is a platform the AU community can use to directly fund projects and initiatives.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/15/2016
Content:

American University's Office of Development and Alumni Relations recently launched UFUND, a crowdfunding platform just for the AU community. This is a new way for alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends of the university to directly fund the projects and initiatives they care about most.

AU faculty, staff, and students are planning ventures to shape the future of the community, nation, and world. By making a gift, donors support the development and success of these projects.

Currently, UFUND features five initiatives – The Eagle Innovation Fund, the DC-Area High School Ethics Bowl, an Alternative Break in Cuba, the Skills for Success Career Seminar, and production of the documentary In The Executioner's Shadow.

Members of the AU community are invited to submit new projects to be featured on UFUND.


 

Tags: Alumni,College of Arts and Sciences,Giving,Kogod School of Business,School of Communication,School of International Service,School of Public Affairs
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Title: Non-stop News and A Heart for Helping
Author: Penelope Buchter, SIS/BA '16
Subtitle:
Abstract: Janell Lewis, SOC/MA ’06, has a passion for information and a desire to see others succeed.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 02/10/2016
Content:

Janell Lewis, SOC/MA ‘06, is an alumna whose passion and drive are evidenced by her impressive honors. Her energy and ambition have earned her the titles “Top 5 Under 40 Citizen,” and “Young Professional on the Move” as well as winning an award for dedication and service to the community from the local Courier Eco-Latino newspaper in her former home, Columbus, GA. She has even been nominated for an Emmy. She is currently in Lawton, OK, assisting in the KSWO Channel 7 News transition into a Raycom Media company.

Janell’s work in the news and media industry stems from an unquenchable desire to be informed on issues and know what is going on around her first. But more than just wanting information for herself, Janell wants to be part of informing others about what is going on in their community and their world. It is that get-up-and-go attitude which has yielded her such great success in her field.

Despite all of her success in news, Janell says that she is most proud of her work as a mentor, especially with young people. She started a local non-profit chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in Georgia and has worked with several other organizations, including the NAACP and Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Through these organizations, she has had the chance to talk to students in elementary school through college and had the opportunity “to inspire, empower, and encourage, to give people someone to look up to and to show them that they can be successful.” With the NABJ she has been able to mentor students through college and sometimes even into their first journalism jobs. She says that getting into journalism, especially in places like DC can be incredibly difficult, but Janell loves to encourage people and see them succeed in getting these tough positions.

When Janell came to AU, she says that she maintained good relationships with her professors, made sure they knew her career aspirations, and allowed them to help her achieve those goals. This is the same advice she has for students hoping to pursue a media career, “have good relationships with your professors and do internships.” She says that “The best way to figure out what you want to do is to do it.”

It’s easy to see that Janell has been running full speed ahead, and she doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. Right now, Janell is looking into starting her own business for event planning, and hopes to do media consulting.

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Title: SOC Alumna Gets a Running Start
Author: Megan Olson and Nicole Mularz ’14
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Abstract: Anne Mahlum, SOC/MA ’03, shares her passion for entrepreneurism, fitness, and strengthening communities.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 11/18/2015
Content:

Whether it is going for a mid-day run or teaching a class at Solidcore, working up a sweat has led to success for Anne Mahlum, SOC/MA '03. As founder of Solidcore boutique fitness studios, Back on My Feet, a national nonprofit serving the homeless community, as well as noted motivational speaker, Anne is nothing if not entrepreneurial.

A native of Bismarck, North Dakota, Anne was drawn to graduate school in Washington, DC for its politics, and to American University for its reputation. As a student in AU's one year Master of Public Communication program, Anne was very diligent and took advantage of all of the opportunities available to her on and off campus. While taking a full course load, she balanced work as an intern at Widmeyer Communications and as a server at a local restaurant. 

In November 2013, Anne followed her passion for health, fitness, and its community to launch Solidcore. Today, she serves as the company's founder and chief motivational officer, empowering a community of more than 10,000 members. Just a few miles from American University's campus, Solidcore offers rigorous classes that encourage participants to push themselves to be their best physically. Anne says, "Solidcore is not just a workout. We are on a serious mission to help you create the strongest version of yourself inside and out."

As Anne continues to push others to be their best selves, her own success seems to have only just begun. Anne plans to make Solidcore a national brand with hopes of inspiring individuals across the country. In addition to Washington, DC, Solidcore has locations in Virginia, Maryland, and Minneapolis.

Prior to opening Solidcore in 2007 at 26 years old, Anne's commitment to service led her to start a non-profit, Back on My Feet. With a mission of serving those facing homelessness, her vision was to help as many people as possible and empower them to redefine themselves so they could redefine their lives. Anne found that by using running as a tool, participants could gain the endurance to meet and exceed their goals as well as promote a healthy lifestyle both mentally and physically. Under Anne's leadership, Back on My Feet has enabled 1,942 members to obtain employment and 1,350 to obtain housing. 

For American University students looking to get a running start like Anne, she encourages them to take big risks, ask themselves what the worst thing that can happen is, and to not be afraid to try something different.

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Title: SOC Alumna Kelsey Marsh Experiences Success at Cannes Film Festival
Author: Melissa Bevins ’02
Subtitle:
Abstract: SOC Alumna Kelsey Marsh experienced success at the Cannes Film Festival with her film, NonCritical.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 09/04/2015
Content:

When she was in the Kingdom of Lesotho serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, Kelsey Marsh, SOC/MFA '15, knew that her next career move would be to head to graduate school and study documentary filmmaking. Kelsey spent her days working as a community health and economic development volunteer and a primary resource teacher, but she had her sights set on American University and was thrilled to learn of her acceptance while still in Lesotho. 

As a student at AU, Kelsey says she was constantly busy. She made it a point during her tenure to avoid saying no to opportunities. In fact, she held three different jobs one semester (as a fellow at Center for Media and Social Impact, intern at Voice of America, and student worker at the Academic Support and Access Center), all in addition to being a full-time graduate student. 

As a result of her reputation for working hard and getting the job done, Kelsey had the opportunity to work with Professor Brigid Maher on a film she was producing and directing, The Mama Sherpas. Kelsey credits this opportunity to AU's culture of blending theory with practicality and encouraging students to work in the field. In the case of The Mama Sherpas, Kelsey's involvement and responsibilities continued to grow, and she earned credit as an associate producer on the film. 

Kelsey made every effort to emulate the experience she had working with Professor Maher as she produced and edited her own thesis film, NonCritical. The film, a short documentary about America's ambivalence toward finding missing black adults, earned Kelsey an invitation to the Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase, where she won the Jury Choice Award. As Kelsey said, "The majority of filmmakers participating were from USC's famed film school, and my success proved to me that AU students are on the same level and do belong in international filmmaking competitions."

Kelsey now works full-time at Maryland Public Television as an associate producer. She loves the excitement of the position and the fact that every day is a little different. Currently, Kelsey serves on the arts and culture team and works on two half hour shows, Chesapeake Collectibles and Artworks

Kelsey also continues to freelance on many projects. She is currently producing a film called Women with Balls, about the D.C. Divas professional female, full-contact football team. The Divas had an undefeated season this year and just won their league's championship. Since the final game was played in Los Angeles, Kelsey was able to engage with three other American University alumni to help her with shooting the championship game.

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Title: AU Alumna Recalls Powerful Katrina Experience
Author: Ann Royse, SIS/MA '14
Subtitle:
Abstract: This month, AU is honoring the anniversary by remembering and sharing the firsthand experiences of alumna Rebecca Callahan, SOC/MA ’91, an American Red Cross public affairs liaison.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 08/11/2015
Content:

The news today is filled with images of treacherous weather patterns all across the country—from raging wildfires in the west to blizzards, floods, and storms in the east. Ten years ago, however, it was a single, violent storm covering the news outlets, a storm now infamously referred to as Hurricane Katrina. Whether you watched the horror unfold on television, responded to the national call for help, or actually lived amidst the chaos, the devastation Katrina caused will forever remain etched within the nation’s memory. This month, AU is honoring the anniversary by remembering and sharing the firsthand experiences of alumna Rebecca Callahan, SOC/MA ’91, an American Red Cross public affairs liaison.

As a communications student in both her undergraduate studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and graduate studies at AU, Rebecca’s venture at the Red Cross began with a simple volunteer role updating the organization’s database. However, due to her strong communications background, she found herself at a disaster relief call center the week of August 23, 2005, warning anxious Gulf Coast residents to immediately head inland. As the date of the hurricane’s landfall drew closer so did the intensity of calls and questions from residents frantically wondering where to go, what to do, and how to leave—even as many said, their instinct was to remain in their own homes.

While Rebecca worked with a range of people on the ground—from parents to children to soldiers and reporters—her skills were truly put to the test. However, she soon found herself particularly concerned with the psychological trauma and effects on the younger children, specifically the six- to 12-year-olds.

One young girl’s struggle to process the unfolding events inspired Rebecca to communicate and connect. Rebecca provided the girl with a job, instructing the 10-year-old to stand at one of the Baton Rouge River Center's entrances with a large bottle of medical grade sanitizer, ensuring that everyone entering or exiting was thoroughly disinfected. The job soon became too large for one person so, under Rebecca’s direction, the young girl led a team of purpose-seeking children to help guard and sanitize multiple entrances of the Center. As Rebecca explained, “People need that sense of empowerment…if you have all of your control taken away, one of the most therapeutic things is to give them a sense of control over something, even if it’s in the smallest, most unexpected ways. For kids, that was easy. For everyone else, that was hard.”

This story is only a sampling of the profound experiences Rebecca endured during her time volunteering with the Red Cross in New Orleans. From assisting in the search for family members, to counseling children, to being thrust in front of the cameras on behalf of the Red Cross, it is apparent how vital Rebecca’s communications skills were to her survival and success in such treacherous environments.

Today, Rebecca continues her passion for public and strategic communications as a public affairs strategist at Booz Allen Hamilton. She also continues work with the Red Cross as a public affairs liaison for the National Capital and Greater New York regions. Her time at AU prepared her for a much greater purpose, and she says that purpose lives on in the memory of those she aided during one of the most tumultuous disasters in recent American history.

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Title: Alumni Board Member Shares Passion for Giving Back
Author: Patricia Rabb
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Abstract: Amy Lampert is an AU Alumni Board member and active volunteer
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 05/19/2015
Content:

 "I fell in love with the campus when I visited. What an exciting place to live and study," says Amy Lampert, SOC/BA '94, about her first visit to AU during her senior year of high school. "As soon as I saw the campus, I knew that I wanted to be there. There's nothing quite like Washington, DC," she adds. 

After arriving on campus, Amy was involved with the American University Resident Hall Association (serving as vice president during her junior year), worked at the Anderson/Centennial Hall front desk for three years and participated in many leadership development opportunities on campus. She also worked on the yearbook and The Eagle newspaper and was active with "AU Students for Choice."  

Her most memorable AU experience occurred during her junior year when President Bill Clinton came to campus. "I was able to sit in the second row and shake his hand," says Amy. Not long before that, she stood along the inaugural parade route while the Clintons walked past. "That's not something you get to do anywhere else in the world. It has to be one of the coolest things I've ever done," she adds.

During her time at AU, Amy secured internships at locations as varied as the House Majority Leader's office, the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, US Weekly magazine in New York City, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "My internships gave me invaluable work experience that I know contributed to being able to get a job right out of college," Amy adds. 

Amy's first job was in the development office at Sidwell Friends School where she worked on publications. "I was able to immediately put my journalism degree to work," reports Amy. "My ability to write and edit as well as multi-task have been essential in everything I've done since graduation whether it's been professionally or in graduate school," says Amy. 

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Amy earned two masters of arts degrees since leaving AU. One degree is in writing and publishing from Emerson College and the other is a business management degree from Webster University. Amy is currently vice president at Time Square, Inc., a family business where she works in real estate and investment management. She manages investments as well as a wide-ranging portfolio of residential and commercial properties. Amy is pleased this position provides her with the flexibility to spend time with her 10-year-old son, describing herself as "a very hands-on mother." She continues to reside with her family in St. Louis and also spends time at a second home in Florida.

An active volunteer, Amy is enthusiastic about giving her time to AU as well as to her local community. She can be found volunteering at her temple, at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, and in many other activities in her region. As an alumna, she enjoys giving back as a member of the AU Alumni Board and as an Alumni Admissions Volunteer. As an AAV member, Amy enjoys welcoming incoming freshmen and their families to the AU community by hosting summer send-off events at her homes in both Missouri and Florida. "I've really enjoyed meeting prospective students and their families over the years and sharing my passion for such an exciting place with people who are as excited about AU as I still am," she adds.

Amy observes that much has changed at AU since she attended in the 1990s. She finds herself wishing she could go back to AU and take advantage of all it has to offer. "As beautiful as I thought AU was back in the 1990s, it's even more beautiful now," she adds. She also remarks upon what she sees as an evolution of the student body. "Everyone was active and passionate when I was there, but today the students are more impressive than ever. They all are so driven, ambitious, devoted, and passionate about everything in life. They have lofty goals that I know they will achieve," she says.

Although she is undoubtedly busy with both work and family, it is clear that Amy is passionate about volunteering in both her hometown as well as for the alma mater with which she fell in love 25 years ago. "I want to do whatever I can to help AU continue to grow and thrive," she exclaims.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Board,Alumni Update,Office of Development & Alumni Relations,School of Communication
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Title: Ron Nessen, Press Secretary for President Ford, Gives Back to AU
Author: Megan Patterson, SIS/BA '11
Subtitle: Ron Nessen reflects on his career in politics and broadcasting, and still loves to come back to his alma mater.
Abstract: Ron Nessen, Press Secretary for President Ford, reflects on his career in politics and broadcasting, and still loves to come back to his alma mater.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/09/2015
Content:

"I love American University. I wanted to stay and get my degree. No matter what I was doing, I always arranged it so I would have time to go to AU." 

Even from the way Ronald H. Nessen, CAS/BA '59, speaks as we sit in an alcove of SOC's McKinley Building, it is evident that he loves his alma mater. Ron has had a distinguished career in broadcasting and journalism –going from a radio journalist in Arlington, Va. to television news correspondent in Vietnam, to Press Secretary for President Gerald Ford. 

Ron put himself through American University by working part time and going to school in the evenings. He knew more than anything that he wanted to get a degree from AU. He graduated in 1959 with a bachelor's in history.

After a several years of news, writing, and reporting, Ron became a television news correspondent for NBC News. He served as the White House correspondent from 1962 to 1965, and then spent time as foreign news correspondent, including five tours covering the Vietnam War. "In war," he says, "you see terrible things that you will never forget." 

After getting seriously wounded by a grenade in July 1966, Ron recuperated and chose to go back to Vietnam and finish his assignment. In 1974, White House Press Secretary Jerald terHorst resigned after President Gerald Ford gave Richard Nixon a presidential pardon. President Ford asked Ron to join the administration as Press Secretary. Ron served as White House Press Secretary until the end of the Ford Administration in 1977. He went on to be a writer, lecturer, and public affairs specialist in Washington. His book, It Sure Looks Different on the Inside, speaks of his time in the White House. 

Reflecting on his career path, Ron says, "Nobody really knows where they are going to go in life. Things have unfolded in a way that I never expected." In one of many interesting twists in his career, Ron was Larry King's boss at Mutual Radio Broadcasting Network, where ran the news department for many years. 

Throughout his career, Ron always had a special place in his heart for AU. He currently gives back as a volunteer for the SOC Mentoring Program, and he enjoys seeing his old stomping grounds. His favorite memory of his time in college, though, is uniquely AU: "When Willard [Scott, NBC News's "Today" weather-person], Eddie [Walker, radio personality and first blind student at American University] and I worked at WAMU. We all wanted to go into broadcasting, and we all ended up in broadcasting."

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Title: SOC Alumna Reports Breaking News for ABC
Author: Nicole Mularz, SPA/BA ’14, and Megan Olson
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Abstract: Cecilia Vega, SOC/BA ’99, discusses her career in journalism and shares advice with students.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 04/09/2015
Content:

As anchor of "World News Tonight" Saturday and senior national correspondent for ABC News, Cecilia Vega's, SOC/BA '99, office is wherever the news takes her. Although she spends much of her time traveling back and forth from Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area to New York, Cecilia says her time in Washington, DC and at American University gave her a start in the journalism field and provided the foundation for her success.

For Cecilia, there is no routine day in the office. Breaking news takes her all over the world. She could start her day in one city and be on her way to another continent by evening. Cecilia has reported from the bottom of the Arctic in a submarine and in London's Olympic Village. She has also covered midterm elections, interviewed Heads of State, and more recently reported on cases of Ebola in the United States. Regardless of where an assignment leads her, Cecilia says that her work gives her a sense of fulfillment as she shares information with the public to ensure they make better decisions as citizens.

After growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cecilia moved to the nation's capital to attend American University's School of Communication, where she earned a degree in French and print journalism. Her busy schedule today is reflective of her experience as a student. Cecilia remembers balancing studying, working, and interning during her time on campus. Though all of these commitments were hectic at times, Cecilia says that her hard work at AU paid off.

Cecilia's job in broadcast journalism came as a total accident. She started her career as a newspaper reporter and worked for publications including the San Francisco Chronicle. When the opportunity to move from print to broadcast at KGO-TV ABC7 in San Francisco presented itself, Cecilia jumped at the chance. Though she had no formal broadcast journalism training, she quickly learned the ropes. Six years later, Cecilia is an Emmy-winning broadcaster and has appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," "Nightline," and "20/20."

Reminiscing about her time at American University, Cecilia shared advice for students today saying, "Utilize what you have at your disposal. Being in Washington, DC, you have so much at your fingertips. Your professors are in the newsroom in the morning and teaching classes at night –it is an invaluable education. The ability to capitalize on these opportunities separates AU students from other students."

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Title: Producer-Director Adam Friedman Discusses Documentary Featuring Meryl Streep
Author: Traci Crockett
Subtitle:
Abstract: Friedman is wrapping up work on a film called “Shout Gladi Gladi,” which Streep narrates.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/12/2015
Content:

"I like to say it was like painting the Mona Lisa without the smile." That's how producer-director Adam Friedman, SOC/BA '79, describes his latest film –before Meryl Streep signed on. "For four months, I had a movie I couldn't proceed on too much because I didn't have my narrator in place," Friedman says. 

In February, Friedman says, he got very lucky when his sister, a New York newscaster, somehow got a rough cut of the movie in front of Streep. "I got an email from Meryl's assistant saying 'hey, Meryl would love to do your movie. She thinks it's great,'" he says. And, the rest, as they say, is history.  

Friedman, owner of production company Vertical Ascent, is wrapping up work on the documentary called "Shout Gladi Gladi." It's a film about one woman's drive to help save African mothers suffering from fistula. That woman, Scottish philanthropist Ann Gloag, a former nurse turned businesswoman, now runs medical facilities in three African countries.

"We recorded her at nine o'clock in the morning on Saturday, the day before the Oscars," Friedman says of Streep. "That's how cool she was." Having booked a studio for six hours to do the voiceover, Friedman says, "she was in and out of there in 56 minutes…She was amazing." 

Not everything went so quickly, of course. The project began with a visit to Scotland to discuss it with Gloag. Then came trips to Malawi, Kenya, and Sierra Leone, where Friedman and his crews filmed what he calls an "immense" amount of footage. Friedman says they visited some "horrific" slums during their time in Sierra Leone, and he believes his was the last crew filming in the country before the Ebola outbreak. 

A lot of time was spent working on the film before the first cut was finished in September. Still, one key piece was missing. Enter Meryl Streep. "Obviously she changes the movie completely because of the way she reads. We were all just blown away," Friedman says. "Before we had a movie about fistula…a subject that most people will turn away from." But, he says, with Streep on board, he thinks the movie will reach "an incredibly large and wide swath of humanity." 

Friedman says he wouldn't be where he is today without AU. "I'm in this business because of AU and particularly because of my mentor, Larry Kirkman…I think differently than most producer-directors, and it's all because of what I learned at AU," he says.

Friedman tells a story about "lying his way into ABC" during his time as a student and working on an Emmy-nominated documentary. "But I didn't want to do documentaries then," he says. "There was a new thing happening at the time called music videos." Music video interested Friedman, so he wrote one for Darryl Hall and John Oates. They liked it and hired him to do more. He continued working in the industry, producing videos for the Rolling Stones and other musical acts. 

Since then, Friedman has gone on to do lots of different kinds of work, including a recent television show about the CIA for National Geographic. "AU gave me a lot of opportunities to play with a lot of toys, and you need that," he says. 

Friedman remains involved with AU, serving as a mentor for the School of Communication and as a volunteer leader with the Entertainment and Media Alumni Alliance. "What AU taught me was a really strong notion that there's nothing you can't do if you really want to," he says. "I met the best people in the world there." 

Friedman says he thinks what's happening with film online is going to change everything about his business so that's where he will turn his focus next. 

And, he says, "Obviously we're aiming for the Oscars next year."

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,Film,Film and Media Arts,Film Production,School of Communication
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newsId: 4D9FB6D6-5056-AF26-BECD1B3F2095E040
Title: Nate Beeler Draws The News
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Alumnus Nate Beeler is an award-winning editorial cartoonist.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/11/2014
Content:

“There is something primal about a hand-drawn image that goes back to people painting on caves. We’ve always had cartoons, and editorial cartooning has a very rich history in the United States. It’s a powerful way to have a voice in the national conversation,” says Nate Beeler, SOC/BA ’02, an award-winning editorial cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch.

By now, Beeler’s cartoons are certainly part of the national dialogue. His depiction of the Statue of Liberty and Lady Justice embracing following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) won the 2014 John Fischetti Editorial Cartoon Competition.

When the news of DOMA broke, Nate says he struggled for inspiration at first, but once he knew what he wanted to portray: the joy of same-sex couples as well as the scope and historical significance of the ruling, he says, “It seemed a natural fit to put Lady Justice and Lady Liberty together because this decision affirmed freedom and also righted an injustice.”

Nate draws five editorial cartoons each week for the Columbus Dispatch and his cartoons are also syndicated internationally to more than 800 other publications. “When you’re an editorial cartoonist, your work is basically a visual column, and you fall into the natural rhythm of the news,” he says.

Nate uses the newspaper and Twitter to track the national news conversation and search for topics that will resonate with his audience. Once he chooses a topic, he does extensive reading to determine how he feels about the topic, which guides his editorial approach.

His first foray into creating a cartoon tied to a national news story was for the edition of The Eagle published after September 11, 2001. Nate drew an image of the Twin Towers with angel wings, and the original drawing still hangs in The Eagle offices today. In fact, the The Eagle was Nate’s first stop when he arrived on campus, and he still stays in touch with his former Eagle colleagues and fellow alumni, including Brett Zongker, Scott Rosenberg, and Andrew Noyes.

American University’s strong journalism program and location in Washington, D.C. motivated Nate, a Columbus native, to attend AU. During his time in college, he was an editorial cartoonist for The Eagle and created two comic strips: Undergrad and Lawn Darts from God. His work with The Eagle earned him the prestigious Charles M. Schulz Award for best college cartoonist as well as the John Locher Award.

Since then, he has won more recognition, including the 2009 Thomas Nast Award from the Overseas Press Club and the 2008 Berryman Award from the National Press Foundation.

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