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Title: Student Media Leader: Sean Meehan
Author: Jordan-Marie Smith
Subtitle:
Abstract: Current Dean's Intern and The Eagle's web editor shares some of his most rewarding experiences at SOC.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 11/11/2014
Content:

American University student media leaders share their experiences and lessons learned working at various AU media outlets, and discuss how SOC has contributed to their success.

Year: 2015
Major: Print Journalism and Literature
Internship: Current Newspaper


Where are you interning/working?

I'm the Web Editor at The Eagle and a Dean's Intern at Current newspaper which covers public and nonprofit media.

What do you do, specifically?

At The Eagle, I make sure that the website stays up and running and troubleshoot any problems on the site. I also help copy edit. At Current, I write articles about public radio and TV professionals and new projects in the field.

How did you get involved with The Eagle and Current?

I got my internship at Current by applying to the Dean's Internship program. I got involved with The Eagle during Welcome Week of my freshman year. I contacted the editor-in-chief and said that I had some experience with web management on my high school newspaper and that I was interested in helping out with the web staff of The Eagle. I was then told that the Web Editor was planning to leave in a few weeks for an internship, and so I became the new Web Editor and learned the job as I went with a lot of help from upperclassmen on The Eagle.

Have any SOC classes helped you with your internship/job? What specific skills/classes?

Any SOC class that has you actually write articles is going to help immensely if only because you so rarely get someone to read your writing so critically and attentively. Editors will tell you where you messed up, but they won't give you the kind of in-depth feedback that SOC professors do.

What else has SOC helped you with?

I've met a lot of faculty who have not only taught me how to be a better reporter and writer, but how to think like one all the time.

What's the most rewarding part of your internship at Current?

The most rewarding part of any journalism job to me is being able to talk to people and hear their stories and spread them to a wider audience, and this really applies to any field of writing I think. Covering public media, it's rewarding to know that you're recognizing people for their hard work and helping spread best practices around the industry. I also hope to work in non-profit or public media after graduation, so it's been really cool to cover the whole industry and get a better understanding of how it all works.

Fun Qs:

What do you like to listen to when you work?

If I'm doing research I like to listen to whatever is playing on WVAU. If I need a pick-me-up I listen to dancier synth things like Erasure and New Order. If I need to write really quickly - and I acknowledge that this is cheesy - I put on either Meatloaf or some really hardcore stuff like Leftover Crack or Body Count, anything that's too fast and loud for it's own good.

Best place to study in McKinley?

On the rooftop and anybody who says otherwise is lying to you.

Best SOC Professor?

This is a question that is designed to get me in trouble. I don't like to pick favorites, but some that have made a big difference for me are Jane Hall, Roger Streitmatter, Lynne Perri and Charles Lewis.

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Title: War in the Reel World
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: Army veteran and AU alum Mike Hardy put his experience to work on critically-acclaimed movie.
Topic: Television & Film
Publication Date: 11/11/2014
Content:

A Script to Believe In

While attending American University's School of Communication for graduate school, Mike Hardy took a course on screenwriting. Yet this educational experience extended far beyond the boundaries of one classroom. Before he knew it, he was dealing with Hollywood actors and working on a critically-acclaimed motion picture.

So, how did this happen? Hardy's professor, Claudia Myers, was preparing to direct a film about an Army medic returning from Afghanistan and reconnecting with her son. This was familiar subject matter to Hardy, who had a long military career. He approached Myers, and she would later recruit him to work on her movie, Fort Bliss.

Hardy had a number of responsibilities on the film. He read through parts of the script to make sure it accurately depicted the military. He helped Myers gain access to military equipment and filming locations by working with the Army's liaison office in Hollywood. Hardy, who had previously dealt with that office, remembers calling to make his pitch. "I said, 'Here's a script. And I'm not giving it to you just because,'" he recalls. "'I'm giving it to you because I believe in it. It's a great script. You guys need to look at it.'"

Hardy also got heavily involved in fundraising for the film. And while on location, he was a driver for the movie's star, Michelle Monaghan. He later took part in some of the opening festivities when the movie ran at the West End Cinema in Washington, D.C. At one of those screenings, he met the evening's surprise guest, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

An Army Life

Fort Bliss explores the human side of war for military service members and their families. Hardy could certainly relate, as the U.S. Army has influenced almost every aspect of his life. His Vietnam vet-father was a career Army sergeant, with Mike Hardy living the military brat life in California, Japan, Germany, and other places. He has an early, harrowing memory of coming home from school one day to see a hearse—which he feared was for his father—parked outside his house. (It turned out to be a false alarm, and he says a neighbor was using it.)

Hardy eventually enlisted, serving 24 years in the Army and rising to the level of lieutenant colonel. He's served in a number of conflict areas: Somalia, the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

On overseas assignments, he's seen how societies get all too accustomed to violence and death. During one potential standoff in Mogadishu, with Americans on one side and the enemy facing them, a man appeared out of nowhere in beach clothes. "In between us walks this super tall Somali, wearing a scuba mask and flip- flops, and just kind of like whistling. He was so oblivious to the fact that he's walking in between this thing," Hardy recounts.

Yet back in the U.S., civilians are less acquainted with wartime atrocities. This makes getting re-acclimated to American life an arduous process for many veterans. "When you first get back, for most of my peers, it's alien to be here. To be able to walk into a store and get coffee and not have the idea that, 'Let me see who around here is wearing a suicide vest.' And the fact that life goes on," he says. Hardy says that, over time, it's gotten easier for him to return from war zones. "The first time I went to combat, when I came back to the U.S., any noise I had to react to and I had to watch just to make sure it wasn't a threat," he says. "This time coming back I wasn't so hyper-alert. It was just strange to be in a society that's not necessarily paying attention to the war."

For the occasion of Veterans Day this week, Americans will honor men and women for their military service. Yet for a country with no draft and a noticeable civilian-soldier divide, does clapping at a sporting event during "God Bless America" really suffice? Hardy definitely appreciates the support from the broader public. "When someone says, 'Thank you for your service,' in my mind I hear, 'Thank you for your sacrifice.'"

Building His Portfolio

Hardy's involvement with Fort Bliss should help his career. Claudia Myers's movie has garnered rave reviews and currently holds an 80% favorability rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes. The Washington Post wrote that "Fort Bliss joins Coming Home and The Best Years of Our Lives as a movie deeply in sync, not just with the military characters it depicts, but also with the civilian world that awaits them with such confoundingly mixed messages." The Philadelphia Inquirer gave it 3 ½ out of 4 stars, writing that it "addresses big issues, in ways that are never simplistic or dogmatic." The Los Angeles Times described it as an "unflinching and complex character study" and a "vividly drawn psychological profile."

Over the weekend, Fort Bliss won the Peer Gold-Independent Feature award and the Best of D.C. award from the Television, Internet & Video Association of D.C.

Hardy got invaluable experience on this movie and was credited as associate producer. Hardy earned his master's degree in producing film and video from AU in 2012. Earlier in his career, he did film production at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. Hardy was recently spotlighted by the District of Columbia Office of Motion Picture and Television Development as October Filmmaker of the Month. These days, he's picking up freelance video projects and hoping to build up his portfolio. What's the ultimate goal? Make his own Hollywood military movie someday.

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Title: Kill Screen Founder Inspires Students
Author: Domanique Jordan
Subtitle:
Abstract: Jamin Warren argues that video games are the new research and development for future-facing brands.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 11/10/2014
Content:

Nearly 100 students from American University and visiting colleges filled the Forman Theater on Saturday, October 25, for the second annual Games for Good, Games for All summit, "Launching your Career in Games and Gaming."

The free event brought out gamers and graphic designers with different levels of experience to learn more about the trade through lectures, workshops and invaluable tips from keynote speaker Jamin Warren.

Warren, founder of video game arts and culture company Kill Screen and former culture reporter for the Wall Street Journal, coached the attendees on how to inject game design into national conversation. 

He asserted that video games are the new research and development for future-facing brands. 

"The future of games isn't technology, it's culture," said Warren. "Games are desire-based use cases for technology. If you watch what's happening in games, you'll see future trends." 

Warren said that gaming involves more than just enjoying them in their free time, it's about uniting diverse people.

"People like video games because of the rules of the game," said Warren. "Rules create a sense of community for everyone playing."

For graphic designers, Warren pointed out how many games are developed based on how people view the world. 

For those students who were more interested in the technical part of game development, Warren offered two suggestions for what needs to be done for games in the future:

1.   When you develop games, "look at them from the outside in. Meaning, look at other conversations that are happening in other mediums outside from your own." Then, think of ways to make your games "applicable to your everyday job whether you work for a university or a law firm," said Warren. 

2.   Future game developers need to make it their job to make "the invisible, visible." Games play an important role in "building bridges to islands and lay the stones for the foundation of gaming," said Warren. 

The event was coordinated by American University School of Communication in collaboration with Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications at Hampton University.

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Title: Dean's Picks: Elections v. Zombies: Which is Scarier?
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: In this issue of Dean's Picks, SOC's new political communication co-director discusses the midterm elections.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 11/05/2014
Content:
Katie Couric


Passion & Politics: A Q&A with Molly O'Rourke


SOC's new political communication co-director discusses her background, midterm elections. Read more

 

Wikipedia


Who's Afraid of the Dark?


SOC Assistant Professor Kyle Brannon discusses the enduring popularity of the horror genre. Read more

 

Stand Up Planet


WVAU Named Nation's Top Online College Radio Station


AU's student radio station is simply the best, according to the College Music Journal. Read more

In the News

America's Best Colleges for a Major in Film
In a USA Today ranking, American University was featured as one of the best colleges to major in film within the U.S. The film and media arts program offers a combined bachelor's and master's degree in film and video. Read more

Behind The Scenes: Ethics of Wolf Wars and Turtle Travels

For NPR online, Center for Environmental Filmmaking director Chris Palmer discussed his upcoming book "Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker" where he exposes ethical violations committed in the wildlife entertainment industry. Palmer also criticizes a number of wildlife films and TV programs. Read more

American Forum with Chris Cillizza

The Washington Post
in association with AU's American Forum, livestreamed the School of Communication and the Kennedy Political Union's discussion with students about voting and the midterm elections. Read more

'The Salinas Project' Portrays City in a Kinder Light

School of Communication professor and filmmaker Carolyn Brown spoke to the Monterey Herald about her new documentary, The Salinas Project, which features four children of immigrant farm workers who are succeeding in spite of their challenging life circumstances such as poverty and crime. Read more


Upcoming Events

International Cinema Series: Czech Films
November 7-16
Learn more

Classroom in the Wild: Film Screening and Q&A
November 11, 7:00 p.m.
Learn More

SOC Faculty Forum with Benjamin Stokes
Games to Empower Neighborhoods
November 18, 11:00 a.m.
Learn More

DC Startup Forum with Jean Ellen Cowgill
Build Your Own Brand By Building Someone Else's
November 18, 7:00 p.m.
Learn More

 

FOLLOW SOC Facebook Twitter YouTube

Please send your suggestions for Dean's Picks to Dani Rizzo.

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Title: SOC Senior Gets 'Ready for Hillary'
Author: Paola Chavez
Subtitle:
Abstract: Izzy Bugatti credits her public communication skills with her success as a 'Ready For Hillary' intern.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 11/04/2014
Content:

In the midst of the midterm elections, School of Communication senior Izzy Bugatti prepares for the 2016 presidential elections.    

The Public Communications major and Marketing minor, is currently an intern for Ready For Hillary, a Super PAC encouraging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016. The group is also responsible for laying the groundwork for her candidacy.   

Bugatti joined the organization in June, after accepting an internship to work with college campuses in South Carolina and Nevada to encourage students to start 'Students for Hillary' groups.   

The Los Angeles native says working as a 'Young American Organizer' in D.C. has shown her how much SOC's Public Communication program has helped her grow.   

"The communication skills I've learned in class have definitely helped me," said Bugatti. She notes she wouldn't have had the courage to call people for campaign support if it weren't for the skills she's acquired through the program.   

“Ready Bugatti holds the 'Ready For Hilary' sign with pride at the final Harkin Steak Fry.

In addition to strengthening her communication skills, Bugatti said professors in the program, like Pilar McKay, have influenced her involvement in the upcoming elections. 

"She has made me more aware and interested in the study of polling and how important it is," said Bugatti.  

McKay says Bugatti's experience has been great for her success in the class.   

"She is actively participating in a political cause, and when students like Izzy are working in the field while also taking the research class, it provides an interesting perspective to the work we do in class."   

McKay encouraged her to share her observations of Iowa and Iowans to the class—given that many students will not have the same opportunity to visit the state during a midterm election year, let alone the Harkin Steak Fry.   

The longstanding Iowa tradition, started in 1972, is essentially a barbeque party established to raise money for Tom Harkin's first congressional campaign.   

"Izzy was very generous to share her story about her trip to the historic Harkin Steak Fry with the class," said McKay, "which helps the collective experience of the students."    

Bugatti says she has been overwhelmed with support by professors like McKay and is grateful for all the experience she's been gaining both in and out of the classroom.    

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Title: Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza talks midterm elections
Author: Jordan-Marie Smith
Subtitle:
Abstract: The Fix reporter and founder gives students a look into what candidates are paying attention to this election cycle.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 11/03/2014
Content:

Chris Cillizza, reporter and blogger for The Washington Post's The Fix, took the Doyle-Forman stage Oct. 23 for the American Forum to talk midterm elections with Professor Jane Hall.

Cillizza answered questions from students about different topics including student loan debt, reproductive rights, national unemployment and health care. The issues discussed were drawn from the #MyMidtermFix social media campaign launched by the Kennedy Political Union as a forum for students to share what they thought candidates should tackle this election season.

When asked how student debt factors into a candidate's agenda, Cillizza said that student debt policy is "paralyzed" and serves as an example of how many hot topics are not on any politician's agenda this season.

"I don't think this election is addressing any big issue," Cillizza said.

One audience member asked if immigration was a subject politicians made time for this election cycle.

According to Cillizza, immigration reform is not a priority this campaign season, but the Republican party is striving to add it to its agenda as a way to gain minority voters.

At one point, the focus changed from what politicians are doing this election season to what media is doing.

Audience members asked if journalists were doing a good job of reporting on Congress.

"The real problem, when it gets to accountability, is at the regional and local level," Cillizza said.

Limited accessibility to politicians and office hopefuls also makes it difficult to present a clear, well-reported picture of what lawmakers are doing, according to Cillizza.

As the event came to a close, Cillizza addressed the Millennial vote while responding to a question about politicians' focus - or lack thereof - on voters in the 18-30 year-old age range. "[M]illennials don't vote," asserted Cillizza, so politicians ignore their concerns. The Rock the Vote campaign and celebrity-packed ads are more important to the media than politics, according to Cillizza.

More information on the event can be found on Storify.

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Title: WVAU Named Nation’s Top Online College Radio Station
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU’s student radio station is simply the best, according to the College Music Journal.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 10/31/2014
Content:

Number One

At the fall Student Activities fair several years back, then-freshman Brendan Principato spotted and made a beeline for WVAU’s table.

“I always wanted to do college radio,” he recalled. “I walked right up to the table and said, ‘I’m doing this.’”

Now a senior and co-general manager of AU’s student-run radio station, Principato celebrates his decision to join, as WVAU just won the College Music Journal’s national award for best student-run, internet-only station.

WVAU beat out scores of other internet-only stations across the country to earn first a nomination and later the win at the CMJ Awards on October 23 in New York City. Fellow School of Communication senior and WVAU co-general manager Hyunjin Park said she believes the honor was years in the making—not just of her and Principato’s doing, but of those previous GMs as well.

“It’s a real huge deal,” she said. “How we’ve improved over the past few years really sets us apart, especially from other D.C. area schools. We’ve just accomplished so much.”

Learning & Insight

From hardwiring production gear to producing fresh, engaging content for their website, WVAU has made its great strides essentially on its own.

“Everything that we do is done by students, and I think that’s a really powerful and exciting thing,” Principato explained. “It’s more validating at the end of the day to know that even if it wasn’t done perfectly, it was done by us.“

This student-driven programming has included building live, in-studio performances into their weekly schedule. Live in the Hive, a show airing every Saturday night, welcomes local and national acts to WVAU, giving the station a host of exclusive recordings that it releases as fundraising compilations.

Last year, WVAU teamed up with other area college radio stations to put on a sold-out show at D.C.’s Sixth & I historic synagogue, and they plan to do a similar event this spring.

The mix of event planning, promotion, and technical production has been a welcome supplement to the co-GMs’ classroom studies. It’s just another example of the experiential learning AU is known for.

“The stuff that we are getting a degree in is a lot of what we’re doing. It’s just a lot more real than conceptual,” Principato said. “Being a part of WVAU and having to do these things has been much more helpful than any class. It’s taught me a lot more to have to do it than learn about it.”

For Park—like many students involved in on-campus groups—WVAU actually helped her determine what she wanted to pursue both in academics and in a career, as she’s switched from her original major in international studies.

“Before I joined WVAU, I didn’t know I had an interest in media,” she explained. “It really changed the gears. My mind was like, ‘You need to go into communication.’ It helped me realize what industry I’m interested in and which facets I want to work in.”

Greatest Hits

Principato credits in part AU’s new Student Media Board for the award. The board combines and oversees all of the campus’ student media outlets—from the The Eagle news source to the student television group ATV, who have helped WVAU with the technical aspects of their live in-studio performances.

Specifically, Principato points to the Student Media Board site, which houses all the media groups’ web presences. In fact, it’s the only one of its kind in the nation.

“That hub site definitely helped us,” he said. “Our site looks way better than it did before, and as an internet-only station, your website is your lifeline. That’s all you’ve got. So to have that be a strong component of our station has helped us receive more attention.”

Still, WVAU isn’t the only one at AU recently recognized by a national media organization. Student media staff advisor Adell Crowe has been named to the College Media Association’s 2014 Honor Roll for multimedia advising. According to Park, Crowe—a 30-year veteran of USA Today—is student media’s biggest advocate on campus.

“Whenever we’re in need of anything, she’s always there. She’s always willing to help,” she said. “She understands. She’s one of us. She’s one of each of us. She’s in every organization, and she gets it.”

Following these landmark recognitions, both Park and Principato will be passing the torch to their successors this spring as they graduate. Thinking back on the work between when he first signed up his freshman year until now, Principato knows that the future requires just as much effort from those incoming GMs.

For him, there’s no turning back now for WVAU. “It sets a new standard for us,” he said.

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Title: AU a Top Contributor in Teach For America’s Most Diverse Corps To Date
Author: Devin Symons
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU graduates find success and opportunity with Teach For America despite an increasingly competitive selection process.
Topic: Education
Publication Date: 10/30/2014
Content:

For the past several years, AU has joined the likes of Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown University as one of Teach for America's (TFA) Top Contributors, a list that features schools with the most graduates sent to TFA each year.

This year, 21 AU graduates joined the most diverse teaching cohort in the nonprofit's history. Almost half of TFA's more than 50,000 applicants identified as people of color, nearly half received Pell Grants, and more than one-third were the first in their family to attend college.

Despite an increasingly competitive admissions process and an overall acceptance rate of just 15 percent, AU students continue to succeed. 

TFA recruiter Seon Jeon has an idea why AU students tend to do well in the application process.

"[AU students] are very strong candidates: competitive, social justice-driven, and often engaged in the D.C. community," she says. "They really understand the depth and breadth of education inequity, and they want to do something about it."

AU students are often passionate about social issues and looking for ways to enact positive change in the world, and for some, TFA is the best way to do that.

Cheria Funches, SPA/BA '14, started her time with TFA this fall, teaching at an elementary school in New Orleans. 

"My experience so far has been eye-opening," she says. "You learn so much about yourself through this experience, and it is extremely important that you have a growth mindset at all times."

Funches says she first heard about TFA at on-campus information sessions, and that she received support from her mentors at AU and from the local TFA recruiter in deciding to apply. 

"I am passionate about education reform, specifically in urban districts, and a lot of my mentors thought the best place to start would be on the ground level as a teacher," she says.

TFA continues to grow and refine its selection process to recruit top candidates. Its most recent corps had an average GPA of 3.4 and included more than 30 student-body presidents and nine Gates Millennium Scholars. 

"TFA is looking for people with leadership skills and a passion for social justice," says SPA career advisor, Jennifer Carignan. "In your application, you want to show how your background—work experience, internships, volunteer work—demonstrates that kind of passion and commitment to TFA's goals and ideals."

Funches is glad she applied. After TFA, she plans to work as a school administrator with the hope of one day opening her own school and working on education policy at the national level. For now, she is taking it one class at a time. 

"These students will remember you forever, and the impact you make on their lives will change your life as well," says Funches. "The relationships you build with the students in your region will be the start of an amazing journey."

 

The next deadlines to apply for Teach For America are December 5 and January 30.

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Title: Returning to the Other Side of the Table
Author: Devin Symons
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU alumni advise and recruit current students at the Job & Internship Fair.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 10/30/2014
Content:

"There is always more than one way to approach the passion you want to pursue," says Kayla Ma, CAS/SIS/BA '14. "You're excluding exciting possibilities if you limit yourself."

This time last year Ma was starting an internship with the USAID Office of Inspector General (OIG), an internship she found through a Career Center email. After graduating in the spring with a dual degree in Arabic studies and international relations, she was offered a full-time position with OIG. 

Now she's back as a recruiter for her organization, and she's not alone. 

Of the recruiters who came to represent over 140 organizations at the fall Job and Internship Fair, 40 were AU alumni—a fact that Pat Oltmann, the Career Center's alumni program coordinator, says is great for everyone involved. 

"Not only does meeting alumni allow current students to make an instant connection, it also shows them what's possible," says Oltmann. "On the alumni side, they know what our programs are all about, and seem consistently happy with our students and what they have to offer."

These and other recruiting events are also a chance for alumni to provide current students with the kind of opportunities they themselves benefited from. 

Grant Steinhauser, KSB/BS/BA '13, understands this personally. An AU alum recruited him for a position at Ryan, LLC, the company he now represents. His advice to current students: on-campus recruiting. 

"It's so easy when you have the ability to interview at Kogod or the Career Center," he says. "You've got to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to you as a student at AU. There's no excuse not to."

Steinhauser was active in developing his own professional opportunities. He says he went to multiple interviews as a student and that each experience helped him learn what to expect and how to present himself. 

Roopa Purohit, SOC/BA '04, sees that kind of dedication and energy every time she returns to campus. She is the development and communications manager at Everybody Wins! DC, a literacy education nonprofit where she has been working for eight years. 

"AU students tend to be well-prepared and proactive," says Purohit. "It's good to see freshmen at the Fair, because it means they're already on the right track." Everybody Wins! DC was itself founded by an AU alum who wanted to give back to the community.

Instead of simply adding a student's resume to a pile, Janice Chiverton, SIS/MS '10, gives grateful students tips on how to improve and make their resumes stand out. Chiverton, who works for the Administrative Office of the Courts, says her time at AU played a key role in helping her make her way in the world. After growing up with few economic advantages, she wants to make sure others can benefit from the experience and knowledge she's acquired in her career.

"Every day is a job interview," she says. "Keep your eyes open, read everything, and pay attention. If no one else wants a particular assignment, take it on for the experience. Be smart and engage with the work, and you'll naturally get yourself noticed."

Seuk Kim, KSB/MBA '05, vice president at SunStar Strategic, notices how potential applicants present themselves, and wants current students not to forget about the little things.

"Pay attention to anything that will make you stand out. Like printing your resume on resume paper," says Kim. He also mentions that whether networking online or in person, "Being from the same school gives you an opening."

Marc St. Hilaire, career advisor for the School of International Service, has more to say on that point.

"All good networking starts from a point of commonality," says St. Hilaire. "Current AU students have that potential for instant rapport with alumni, thanks to their shared experiences. People genuinely like to be helpful, and that's especially true for people they have this kind of connection with."

Those connections were easily apparent at the Job & Internship Fair. As Ma accepted resumes from students, a former classmate of hers spotted her through the crowd and ran up, smiling, to give her a hug. 

Networking is a lot friendlier when you call the same school home.

 

Current students and alumni are encouraged to attend upcoming Student-Alumni Networking Receptions. The first reception is November 13, 7:00-8:30 p.m. in MGC 3-5.

Tags: Career Center,Career Center Services,Career Development,College of Arts and Sciences,School of Communication,School of International Service,School of Public Affairs,SIS Career,Kogod School of Business
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Title: Who’s Afraid of the Dark?
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: SOC Assistant Professor Kyle Brannon discusses the enduring popularity of the horror genre.
Topic: Television & Film
Publication Date: 10/29/2014
Content:

"I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily—how calmly I can tell you the whole story."

-Edgar Allan Poe, "The Tell-Tale Heart"

You might watch people holed up in a farmhouse to evade marauding ghouls. Maybe you'll revisit the madman frenetically chasing his family around an empty Colorado hotel. Or view an alien bursting right out of a man's chest. And when this type of thing happens on screen, what do we call it? A fun popcorn movie!

Americans have a longtime fascination with scary movies. And when you peruse your cable and Netflix listings, you'll notice an increasing number of fear-inducing T.V. shows. Is there a sadistic force enveloping the American psyche? Halloween is here, and School of Communication Assistant Professor Kyle Brannon discusses the enduring popularity of the horror genre.

10 (But Really 11) Horror Films You Need to See: Prof. Kyle Brannon's Favorites

Feeding Our Fears

Traditionally, horror taps into the desire to feed and indulge our fears, Brannon says. He suspects that the recent success of dread T.V. reflects societal anxieties. "I do think that there's a bit of a need for a release because the past decade and a half has been so communally stressful—between recessions, wars, terrorist attacks," he says. "We all have to kind of purge stuff when it's in our brains, somehow."

There's a classic morality play inside horror movies: Teenagers partying in the woods get slaughtered, while the two kids playing chess inside are probably safe from the killer. (This has been parodied in the Scream and Scary Movie franchises.)

Brannon remembers those morality tales in 1970s and 1980s films, but he notices that this is changing. "I see a trend of downer endings where the bad guy doesn't get his comeuppance, or maybe the good guy doesn't walk away completely fine," he says. "Not to analyze society too much, but I think that's because there's a lot of moral questioning going on in our world right now…So what do you have to do to be good in a horror film?"

Horror in storytelling is actually quite old. Lest we forget, when Oedipus realized he'd married his mother, he gouged out his own eyes. Now, Brannon says, each successful film or T.V. show creates a community response. "If the reaction is bigger, of course, it makes more money. Then somebody else goes, 'Oh, people really love zombies, I never thought of it. Let's do zombie films now.' And it becomes a trend."

Creeping Onto the Tube

T.V. is being taken pretty seriously nowadays, with scores of websites analyzing shows from every angle, plot line, and double meaning. And during this golden age of T.V., horror is omnipresent: The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Hannibal, Bates Motel, True Detective, The Strain, Penny Dreadful, to name a few.

"It really seems to have blown up in recent years. And it's interesting how it's tiered. You'll get shows that are basically biting off what a horror genre is, like The Vampire Diaries. Or shows doing it the way True Blood does it, which is closer to horror, even though it's very soap opera-y," Brannon says.

Monsters, Werewolves, and Aliens

Brannon's office displays an infographic charting monsters in the movies and a poster of the Swedish vampire drama Let the Right One In. The genre certainly inspires dedicated fan bases. "The people who are really into it usually have memorabilia and decorations and know every line," he says. Yet it's fragmented. Some people like creepy ghost films, while others prefer slasher flicks.

You've got something for everybody, and talented Hollywood directors have pushed the boundaries of horror in cinema. Steven Spielberg unleashed a terrifying shark in Jaws, and Ridley Scott brought nightmares into space with Alien. With the latter, Brannon explains how horror often has a relationship with pop culture of the moment. "They wanted Alien to be a horror sci fi film that was the exact opposite feeling from the audience that you get in Star Wars," he says.

Innovations in technology add new intrigue to old tales. "Somebody learns from a master, and then a new technology comes out, and they create even more awesome monsters or werewolves or aliens," he says. "A CGI Godzilla has a whole different feel than a rubber suit Godzilla."

There's also a low-budget tradition in horror, Brannon says. "It doesn't have to cost you millions of dollars," he says. "It's really useful for filmmakers, makeup artists, cinematographers. Working in horror, they can trip through their craft and learn, and still have people watch it and enjoy it for what it is." Early in his career director Sam Raimi made The Evil Dead, an inexpensive cult classic, before eventually directing the blockbuster Spider-Man trilogy.

New Media, New Ideas

At American University's SOC, Brannon is a full-time professor of film and media arts. He loves teaching, and he's constantly exploring new programs and emerging media. Along with professorial lecturer Greg Smith, he co-hosts a web T.V. show shot by SOC and titled "Greatest Scene Ever." Each episode they talk about a specific genre or topic in film, and last year they did a "Funny Halloween Films" episode. He's also considering a couple ideas for a web-based horror series.

Though sometimes relegated to B movie status, horror is getting much more respect these days from academics, Brannon says. He incorporates some horror into his European cinema class. "If you hold your nose up too much to the 'Top Ten Films Ever Made' and all that, then you're not opening yourself up to what a film can do."

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newsId: 3A241ADB-C3DC-7F26-99974584FA8EB00B
Title: Alisyn Camerota, SOC/BA ’88, joins CNN
Author: Traci Crockett
Subtitle:
Abstract: After 16 years at FOX News Channel, Alisyn Camerota recently began as an anchor at CNN.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 10/02/2014
Content:

Alisyn Camerota, SOC/BA '88, says she arrived on American University's campus "with a vision of someday, somehow becoming a TV news reporter." And, that's just what she's done. After 16 years at FOX News Channel, she recently began work at CNN, anchoring both morning and primetime programs and covering special stories for the cable news giant.  

"I am loving my new job," Alisyn says. "There's been breaking news on a global scale for months now." In her short time at CNN, she's worked with a variety of co-anchors and producers on both New Day and CNN Tonight. "It's been pretty thrilling. It's been a whirlwind getting to know my new colleagues and getting to know how CNN operates," she says. 

Alisyn is settling in to a new routine –on some level. "Regular hours are not synonymous with news casting," she says with a laugh. She went from being on-air regularly in the early morning hours to anchoring the 10 p.m. newscast along with Don Lemon throughout the month of September. "I feel really fortunate to have this new opportunity," she says. 

Alisyn credits internships and hands-on experience while a student with launching her career. "Because of AU, I was able to achieve what I set out to do," she says. "I got a great internship and it connected me to all sorts of power players in the news business, and that was my launching pad." 

Because of her own experience as a student, Alisyn has remained actively involved with the School of Communication as an alumni mentor, a member of the SOC Dean's Council, and a host for students on site visits in New York. "I'm so grateful that I had a great academic and pre-professional experience at AU that I want to make sure other students have the same," she says. "I know of the goldmine of graduates that American has…And, I just know that if the current students can tap into that resource, then their future is that much easier." 

Alisyn has also made a lasting mark on McKinley, the new home of the School of Communication. Thanks to her generosity, it is also home to the brand new Alisyn Camerota Inspiration Lounge, which Alisyn describes as a one-of-a-kind space where the historic portion of the building meets the with the newly constructed areas –a vantage point showcasing both the past and the present. She's proud to say that the lounge bearing her name is "the bridge between the past American University building and the new School of Communication and all that will be accomplished there in the future."

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,Communication,Journalism,Journalism (SOC),School of Communication
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Title: Keosha Varela: Journey Through Digital Space
Author: Kristena Wright
Subtitle:
Abstract: Alumni Board Member Koesha Varela makes her mark in the digital world.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 08/15/2014
Content:

Keosha Varela, SOC/BA '07, SOC/MA '08, currently serves as the digital producer at The Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. But working in digital production was not originally her career aspiration. "I knew I was going to be a lawyer and later on a politician," Keosha says. "AU was always my first choice school and I couldn't wait to get there. Early on, I realized that rather than campaign to spend a short amount of time on the issue of the day, I could raise more awareness by telling the story and following its development," she explains. Keosha decided to go into journalism, saying that she loves reading and writing. "I still wanted to contribute to society in a meaningful way so I decided to tell people's stories. I wanted to be someone who alerted the world on unjust stories so that we could make a change."

Keosha says she was determined to get as much experience as possible to be able to land a job after graduation. "I used the AU career center and Google religiously" she exclaims, which landed her internships with WAMU 88.5, BBC News, and AARP. Her persistence paid off and led her to the highly competitive NBC Universal News Associates Program in New York City. There she helped to produce segments for the The Today Show, MSNBC, and Dateline. She also worked on the launch team of the African American NBC News website theGrio.com. She went on to become an online news editor for WAMU, an editor and producer for WBUR.org, and the social media strategist for the American Clean Skies Foundation. 

When asked what she enjoys most about her career today, she says, "It's such a multi-faceted position. I'm not doing the same thing every day. I enjoy a little bit of everything versus sticking to one task on a daily basis." Keosha's experience has also opened doors for her to delve into her love of writing and interviewing people. As a freelance writer, her work has been published in Sister 2 Sister magazine, The Grio, AARP's The Bulletin newspaper, msnbc.com, and other media outlets. 

Through her success, Keosha admits she had to adjust to a few things that come with the job. "There's a good chance of getting good paying job, but you quickly learn digital news is 24-7. Jobs are typically 9-5 but if breaking information needs to be released, you're expected to do so no matter what time it is." She sums up her advice to students into three points. 

  1. Get as many internships as you can.
  2. Take initiative during internships. A degree doesn't automatically mean a job. Be sure to suggest positive changes at your internship
  3. Never give up. It's not as easy as it may seem. But those who are successful never gave up.

While at AU, Keosha was involved in a multitude of groups and organizations. She was a proud member of the alto section of the gospel choir and an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Lambda Zeta Chapter. She also served as a resident assistant on the second floor of Letts Hall and in the summers, she was an RA on Tenley campus. 

Keosha moved back to the area from New York with a goal of reigniting school spirit in friends and the AU community. Her first step toward this goal begins with her service as a current Alumni Board member. Keosha hopes to continue in digital space and eventually wants to oversee digital and editorial content and strategy. She has loved AU since her freshman year of high school and has her sights set on someday teaching at the college level.

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Title: Building Upon a Family History
Author: Mike Rowan
Subtitle:
Abstract: After her valuable AU experience—and now her daughter’s—Mary McCarthy Hayford and her family are helping lay the groundwork for the university’s next generation.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/27/2014
Content:

Stroll along the west side of the quad, passing Frisbees floating across the grass and cheerful student organizations camped outside of Mary Graydon, and at either end of campus you will find a building that has been transformed within the last five years. Across the street from the Katzen Arts Center, the Kogod School of Business opened a 20,000-square-foot expansion in 2008. A few hundred yards down, next to Bender Library, stands the newly reopened McKinley building, the state-of-the-art new home of the School of Communication. Though housing separate schools, and situated on opposite ends of campus, there’s a strong thread connecting the two of them—the Hayford family.

Mary McCarthy Hayford, Kogod/MBA ’78, did her graduate work at AU’s business school, but when she attended, it did not yet bear the Kogod name. It was simply called the School of Business Administration. Classes were housed in the Ward Circle Building, and offices were in the cozy quarters of the Hamilton Building (known then as Hamilton Hall).

“I remember picking AU based on my perception that the administrators and faculty were more accessible,” McCarthy Hayford shares as she recalls her AU experience. “I look back not only on the great full-time professors in subjects which appeal to me, but also on several adjunct professors who imparted real world experiences. For me, that exposure to professionals working in industry was essential to seeing how the theoretical was applied in the real world, and to envisioning the type of career I would want to pursue.”

When the Kogod School of Business announced plans for its expansion campaign, Mary and her husband, Warren, signed on to help by making a major contribution to the building. Their generosity is marked by a plaque adorning one of the new classrooms inside, which displays their names.

Then, three years later, when the effort to renovate McKinley began, the Hayfords were there again, eager to give back once more, naming the facility’s new audio editing suite.

Why jump in to support another major project, especially when the family had so significantly dedicated themselves to an effort close to their hearts just a few years earlier? One reason is that their daughter, Margaret, SOC/BA ’13, just finished a very positive undergraduate career in the School of Communication.

“We feel strongly that SOC and AU provided Margaret with the experience she needs to pursue her career goals,” McCarthy Hayford articulates. “AU was one of few schools where she could study film and graphic design while still broadening her education in history, science and social science. She capped off her SOC experience with a semester in the film school in Prague where she worked with a small group to create a professional-quality film.”

In addition to Margaret, the Hayfords are parents to Amanda, a 2006 alumna of Oberlin College, and Warren, who graduated from George Washington University in 2012. Ms. McCarthy Hayford’s husband, Warren John Hayford, is the president and managing director of the software company RatioServices, and is a director of the Warren J. and Marylou Hayford Family Foundation, which his parents founded. The foundation has been instrumental in the Hayfords’ gifts to American University.

Though she has graduated—as have her children—McCarthy Hayford remains an avid learner. While embarking on a path toward starting a new career, she has been steadily auditing courses at the university. “Wherever that takes me, I hope to keep close ties to AU.”

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Title: Alumnus Michael O'Brien's Book Details Symbolic Civil Rights Movement
Author: Ann Royse
Subtitle:
Abstract: Alumnus Michael O'Brien writes an enthralling and historic account of the famous sit-in protest at Woolworth's in Jackson, Mississippi during the height of the civil rights era.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 02/17/2014
Content:

If, during this Black History month, you find yourself searching for a new and enriching story of the civil rights era, look no further than a book by AU alumnus and successful author, Michael (M.J.) O’Brien, SOC/BA ’84. He is the writer of a new and highly popular book titled We Shall Not Be Moved: The Jackson Woolworth’s Sit-In and the Movement It Inspired, a story accounting the infamous and nonviolent protest in Jackson, Mississippi, during the turbulent American civil rights era. The book has received multiple accolades, and, according to Julian Bond, distinguished adjunct professor at AU and former NAACP Chairman, “Michael O’Brien has written a detailed history and fascinating study of one of the iconic moments of the modern civil rights movement and the powerful effect it had.”

The spark that ignited the passion and growth of this book begins with a single photograph found in the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia. While Michael was visiting the center, he came upon the photograph, which features three young people conducting a “sit-in” protest at the counter of Woolworth’s, surrounded by a violent and angry mob of Mississippi citizens. Shockingly, one of the iconic faces staring back at him was that of an old and very dear friend named Joan (Trumpauer) Mulholland. Joan had humbly omitted ever mentioning her historic involvement with the civil rights movement in Jackson to Michael.

With this new knowledge, he set out on a mission to uncover and tell the story behind the faces in this photograph and the grassroots civil rights movement surrounding the iconic protest. In essence, he used this image as the central organizing feature to tell a much larger story regarding one of the most tumultuous times in American history.

When discussing his book, Michael is quick to recognize American University as a major contributor to his success in writing. He specifically attributes his own growth in confidence to the education he received at AU in the School of Communication, saying it was “the best training I’ve ever had.” Michael fondly recalls former faculty member Joe Tinkelman as a primary guide and mentor during his time at AU. Professor Tinkelman encouraged and nurtured Michael’s passion for writing and telling stories about social change and justice, a passion he continues to embrace today.

Michael first met Joan while he was a working as a camp counselor with Joan’s five boys, and the friendship grew from there. Then, on the day he discovered her photograph, he decided to dedicate his work to telling her story and the larger social movement of that time. Indeed, Michael O’Brien’s life and career took an unexpected yet valuable turn after befriending Joan. In fact, AU students should heed this insightful advice of Michael: “Keep your eyes open. You never know who will have a significant impact on your life.” Whether it is a confidant and inspiring professor or a lifelong friend and civil rights activist you meet in the park, Michael says it is clear that certain people and events have the ability to change the course of one’s life and career.

Currently, Michael lives in Virginia with his wife and three adopted children and looks forward to continuing a career of writing about his various passions. He reflects fondly on time at AU, saying, “my education [there] essentially launched my career.”



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Title: AU Alumnus Prepares to Release Film in 2014
Author: Penelope Buchter
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Abstract: Brian Levin SOC/MA '04 is writer/producer for Flock of Dudes
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 11/13/2013
Content:

"I've learned a lot in a short amount of time. I've been lost in the realities of film," Brian Levin, SOC/MA '04, says of his first film, Flock of Dudes, which is set to release in early 2014. This is his first feature-length film, and he says that the process has been an opportunity to put everything he has learned into one work. It has also taken more time than any past project. From the initial idea to make this film until now, Brian reveals that over five years have passed.

The inspiration for the film came from a lot of personal experiences, and Brian thinks they are experiences to which many people will be able to relate. He says, "There's something about the experiences people go through in that time of life; it's a funny and emotional time."  

Now that the film is in post-production, Brian is looking forward to his next projects, some of which he hopes to bring to Washington, D.C. Having grown up in Maryland, Brian has spent a lot of time around the area; he says that there is a special look and feel to D.C. that he hopes to capture on camera. To add to the effect, he hopes to find a cast from around Washington for his next project, which he reveals will be a throwback comedy in the vein of films like The Naked Gun. He expounds, "I'm excited to be making these movies and bringing them back to the area."

However, Brian wasn't always sure that he wanted to go into film. He entered college at Towson University as a mass communications and advertising major interested in commercials. He always loved movies, but film had been merely a hobby for him until he got to college, when he realized that film was where he wanted to make a career.  

There are many aspects of filming, but Brian explains, "I felt pulled more and more toward screen writing as a specialization, then toward producing." To current students, he gives the advice that to succeed you need "persistence, seeing it through to advance in whatever you're doing." And, as it relates to film, he says, "try to be creative every day."

Brian encourages students, saying "take advantage of the fact that you have all this time and these resources." He adds, "AU was a great place for me, to have the tools, teachers, and flexibility to discover what I wanted to do professionally."

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Title: Alumnus Daniel Maree wins Do Something Award for Creating Social Change
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: When Daniel Maree, SOC-CAS/BA ’08, heard about the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, he took action.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 09/12/2013
Content:

When Daniel Maree, SOC-CAS/BA ’08, heard about the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, he knew he had to take action. “I lived in Gainesville, Florida for two years, and I’ve been in positions like [Trayvon was in]. I’ve been stopped in predominantly white neighborhoods in Florida by police or [citizens] just because I was an African American male. … Trayvon could have easily been me or my little sister, and I knew immediately I had to do something about it.”

Daniel definitely did “do something.” He launched the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice movement, and because of its success, on July 31, 2013, he won the Do Something Award, broadcast on VH1, which includes a grand prize of $100,000.

Trayvon was wearing a hooded sweatshirt the night he was killed, so Daniel recorded a YouTube video to launch Million Hoodies Movement for Justice. “We were calling on people around the world to show solidarity for Trayvon’s family with one act – simply by putting on a hoodie and sharing a picture of themselves in the hoodie,” Daniel says.

This sparked a social media firestorm, the fastest-growing petition in the history of the internet, as well as more than 50,000 people participating in more than a dozen protests in different cities across the United States, including 5,000 people in New York City’s Union Square.

Daniel credits American University for giving him the opportunity to create his own interdisciplinary major in history, philosophy, and film so he could study how social change occurs and how to use media to create change. He says some of his mentors are Professors Russell Williams, SOC/BA ’74, Peter Kuznick, and Gemma Puglisi.

“I had the privilege of being taught by some of the best professors. … I look back every day, and I see how their coursework and the conversations I had with them, not only in the classroom but during office hours, helped establish my foundation in critical thinking and exploring issues beyond the surface,” he says, “The School of Communication provided a great basis for my training in interactive media and film, which has been a huge part of the Million Hoodies movement. We leverage media and entertainment every day to galvanize people to the cause.”

When asked how he will spend the prize money to continue his activism, Daniel says, “Trayvon Martin is just the tip of the iceberg. … We want to prevent [incidents like this] from ever happening again, so we really have to attack to root causes: racial discrimination and structural violence against young people of color – black, Latino, Hispanic, Asian American, the list goes on. It’s not just African Americans.”

Daniel hopes to accomplish this by educating young people and engaging them in conversations on race and gun violence at an early age. He is in talks now with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create a digital study guide for classrooms to start these discussions. He also hopes to start local conversations about racial profiling and common sense gun legislation because, he says, change must come from the local level.

“We are calling on college students to start Million Hoodies chapters on their campuses, and we will give them the resources they need to have an impact on their local communities. And I want American University to be the first Million Hoodies college chapter. All it takes is one student,” says Daniel.

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Title: A Profile in Compatibility
Author: Rick Horowitz
Subtitle:
Abstract: So many devices, so little time! Alumni couple simplifies cross-platform file transfers, untangles cloud computing.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 07/31/2013
Content:

You have a document on your iPad you need to edit on your Android phone. Or a video on your flash drive you need to send to someone else’s PC. Or a music file over here that absolutely has to be over there.

Welcome to Tech World. And consider the story of two American University grads who continue to bring some much-needed order to this digital jungle while inspiring other young entrepreneurs.

For Donald and Claire Hykes Leka, their four AU degrees—two apiece—are a source of pride. You could also say they’re a source of Glide.

Glide: TransMedia’s computer operating system that seeks to tame the multi-platform, multi-format world of file sharing—moving documents, pictures, videos and music seamlessly across technical borders. And Glide: the subject of a new book the Lekas have co-written to recount the birth and growth and increasing impact of an entrepreneurial techie’s vision, rendered with a storyteller’s eye for detail.

Say the word “Glide” and you think “smooth.” You think “hassle-free.” However, that wasn’t the state of tech world when Donald Leka first started looking at it as an AU grad and Kogod-trained MBA in the late 1990s.

It was quite a different time.

“There was no Dropbox, no SkyDrive, no Google Drive,” Donald Leka recalls. “Ninety-five percent of people had their files on a PC. There was a lot less to connect.”

And now, when seemingly everyone has an assortment of devices and when gigabytes of data reside instantly available in “the cloud”—how does all the data and information move around? And how can you deal with it when it gets where it’s going?

Glide OS is how. When “everything is everywhere,” in Donald’s words, Glide lets “everywhere” talk to, send to, and receive from “everywhere else.” Donald refers to it as “cross-platform compatibility.”

You might apply that same phrase to the Lekas.




Donald, the founder, chairman, and CEO of TransMedia Corporation, had a wide-ranging curiosity and interest in technology from a young age. He recalls learning about the world by watching Walter Cronkite.

Claire meanwhile was several years younger; her own inspiration came from watching Cronkite’s successor, Dan Rather.

That’s what “planted the seeds,” she recalls—the first stirrings of a journalist’s career. When the time came to apply to college, she visited AU and “fell in love with it.” The size of the place—“not too big”—was an attraction. So were the School of Communication’s well-known, well-respected programs in communication and journalism. She could hardly have picked a more eventful time to learn her craft at SOC.

LiveShot 'En Serio'

“A lot of major world events were happening my sophomore year at AU, in 1989— including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Tiananmen Square massacre. Those events really influenced me and inspired me to seek the truth and report it.”

There was experience to be gained closer to home, too.

“Since AU is based in the ‘Journalism Capital of the World,’” she recalls, “I was able to attend Capitol Hill hearings, Supreme Court arguments, events at The National Press Club…”

She graduated with a major in communication, but soon returned to SOC for a Master’s in broadcast journalism. Her first job was as a part-timer in Hagerstown, Md., covering Rotary Club meetings and house fires. Other jobs soon followed—as a business reporter, business anchor, and correspondent—for Reuters and CNN, NBC News, and CBS News—covering everything from the stock market crash and the Great Recession to the Virginia Tech massacre to the 2012 presidential race. In that time Claire has remained an active member of the SOC Alumni Mentoring Program, building on the impact of her SOC degrees.

Donald’s AU degree, in international relations, also had an impact—as did his Albanian roots. Albania was, in 1990, just emerging from decades as a closed society when Donald was invited by the Ministry of Health to help supply the beleaguered nation with Hepatitis B vaccine, and then a computer and phone system for the ministry. These were among the first commercial transactions between the two long-estranged countries. With the end of the Cold War, Donald co-founded a foundation, funded in part by George Soros and by the U.S. Agency for International Development, to bring additional technical assistance to Albania and other Eastern European nations.

Meanwhile, his appetite for all things tech was growing. And, he says, he “really started to understand format and bit rate issues…really started to understand issues of compatibility.” In this still largely dialup world, getting information from one device to another was “a real headache.”

Donald thought, “If we could build an engine that could just do it…”




Paul Barrett 'CloudComputing'

Now, more than a decade and several updates later Glide has garnered more than 3,000,000 users around the world.

The timing is right for a big step forward, Donald believes—so many different kinds of files, so many different kinds of devices. Most people, he says “don’t care” which platforms they’re on at any given time. They simply want them to work together.

“We’re at a real ‘pain point’ for most users. Before, we were solving a mostly theoretical problem. Now, it solves a real ‘pain point’ for most people. It’s the difference between ‘This is interesting’ and ‘I need this!’”

And with public concern increasing over the secret collection of personal data—by the government, or even by online companies—Donald sees people wanting greater control of their own data, all their own data, with “one login, one search box, one system to manage all your devices and services.” He thinks Glide is positioned just far enough ahead of the demand curve, and ready to ride the wave.

If he’s right, Claire will have had a key role, too. She signed on with TransMedia in 2010 to guide the company’s public-relations efforts and its expanding presence on social media. And the couple has collaborated on a book, Cloud Computing: The Glide OS Story, targeted to other young entrepreneurs, and to anyone interested in cross-platform and cloud computing.

Teaming two strong-willed people on a complicated writing project took work, they both concede: some deep breathing, some counting from one to 10—even, says Claire, that old kindergarten standby, “Take your turn.” Donald sees the contrasting styles—he the techie, she the humanizer, the storyteller—as a definite plus: “There’s good resistance there.”

Or, you could say, compatibility.

 

Tags: Alumni,Faculty,Students,School,School of Communication,Communication,Communication Technology,Information Technology
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newsId: 497D2FA6-03C5-429A-0EF284473D7DFBE0
Title: AU Alumnus Sees Success at SXSW Film Festival
Author: Tyne Darke, SOC/BA ’13
Subtitle:
Abstract: Producer Chris Leggett, SOC/BA ’08, wins the SXSW Film Festival’s Audience Award for The Short Game.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 07/12/2013
Content:

You could say things have been going pretty well for AU alumnus Chris Leggett, SOC/BA ’08. In March, he won the Audience Award at the South by Southwest Film Festival as a producer for The Short Game, a documentary following eight seven-year-old golfers vying for the top spot at the World Championships of the Junior Golf tournament in North Carolina. The film received a second Audience Award at the Maui Film Festival this June.

But before he was an award-winning producer, Chris was a student in visual media at American University. Chris was attracted to AU for many reasons including the inviting community, the experienced professors, and the connection he developed with the university’s swim team.

Chris acknowledges the influence his time as a competitive swimmer at AU has had on his career, specifically his work ethic. He says, “I may not be the best producer yet, but I definitely work the hardest. It’s all about pushing yourself to the limit, and that’s what you do in athletics. The word ‘no’ should not be in your vocabulary; it should be ‘how.’”

That work ethic shows itself not just in the recent success of The Short Game, but also in the other projects with which Chris keeps himself busy. He covered the 2010 and 2012 Olympics and produced a Webby Award-winning music video for the song “Fjögur píanó” by Icelandic band Sigur Rós. Even though juggling multiple projects often means scheduling “too many meetings, overlapping meetings,” Chris says this makes being a producer “probably the most exciting job in the world.”


For those who are looking to get into the field, Chris’s advice is to “make your own rules” and constantly learn. “The film industry is evolving every day but you’re never doing the same thing twice. Just embrace that,” he says.

The Short Game will be in theaters at the end of the summer. Watch the trailer and learn more about the film.

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newsId: E695C3AB-0B4C-33C8-BCF5FE3ECB42B0DA
Title: From AU to Cannes: Alumna Sonya Dunn Thrives Behind the Camera
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Sonya Dunn produced The Bedroom while at AU. It is the first AU student film to screen at Cannes.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 07/05/2013
Content:

Sonya Dunn, SOC/MA ’13, just returned from the Cannes Film Festival where her short film, The Bedroom, was screened. It is the first AU student film to be screened at the prestigious event.

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I learned so much from the experience, and I was able to network with other production companies and discuss possible collaborations,” she says.

The Bedroom chronicles a marital relationship and how couples struggle to stay connected. “It’s a tragic drama about everlasting love and overcoming obstacles and tragedy. Everybody’s in love and miserable at the same time.”

Filmmaking has been a lifelong fascination for Sonya. “Ever since I was little, I’ve always had the desire to be either in front of the camera or behind the camera. In college [at the University of Central Oklahoma], I learned about production and post-production. I fell in love with being behind the camera and have been there ever since,” she says.

Sonya spent a number of years in the film industry and even started her own production company, JEMH Productions, before pursuing her master’s degree in producing for film and video.

She chose AU because, she says, “I wanted to take my career to the next level. I felt American University was a good fit for me to advance my education in the field of media production. I’d always been on the creative side, and I hadn’t delved into the business side. [Going to AU] allowed me to attend school and continue working on projects. … [AU has] a gold mine of instructors in our field who give us knowledge to expand on our experiences.”

Professor Russell Williams – a two-time Oscar winner – was instrumental, Sonya says, in her education and helped with the post-production of The Bedroom. “With him, I was able to take my [post-production] skills to another level and understand the true collaboration of editing and sound in film. That alone was a priceless lesson for me to learn.”

“Being at AU has been a godsend. I’ve learned so much about the business side of producing. As a filmmaker, we sometimes get caught up in making the film and don’t pay much attention to the strategy of marketing the film once it’s done. … American University has taught me about the whole collaboration from pre-production to distribution and everything in between,” Sonya says.

The Bedroom has an accompanying book that will be released in September, shortly before the film is released. Although Sonya can’t talk about her current and future projects in detail, it’s clear from her success thus far, she is well on her way to becoming a media mogul.

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newsId: A26FABE8-9FE8-486F-05097B28A77CFD3E
Title: AU Students and Alumni Build Skills in the Office and at the Movies
Author: Roxana Hadadi
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU students and graduates make up the ranks at entertainment marketing firm Allied-THA, creating a community that encourages creative thinking and research.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 06/14/2013
Content:

In his three years at the entertainment marketing firm Allied-THA, publicist David Lieberson, CAS/SOC/BA '10, has seen more movies than he can remember. He’s met celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Jesse Eisenberg. And, during a career that has already included two promotions, Lieberson continues to be surrounded by other AU students and alumni. One third of Allied-THA’s D.C. staff is made up of former Eagles, and current AU students consistently dominate the office's intern pool.


Working in film promotion has its celebrity-focused perks, but the firm’s numerous opportunities for creativity and development coupled with the opportunity to work alongside fellow Eagles is appealing enough on its own, Lieberson says.


“It’s been kind of nice to learn different positions coming right out of college,” says Lieberson, who worked on AU’s WONK campaign before joining Allied-THA full time. “And when you’re working with other AU alumni, everyone knows what we’re talking about.”


That connection to AU came in handy not only when Lieberson started at Allied-THA as an intern—he learned about the position from one of his fraternity brother’s friends, who was working there at the time—but when, after working his way up the ranks to junior publicist, he took over the Allied-THA intern program with another AU alumna. For more than a year, Lieberson and his co-worker drew on friends, acquaintances, and other AU students to staff the intern program. Internship responsibilities range from clipping articles and sending out packages to distributing screening passes for films and working on specific releases. 


“In terms of what attracts AU students, it’s a good intersection of communications, entertainment, and film, but we’re also a large PR firm,” explains Lieberson. “We have over 200 employees; we have 15 or 20 offices. It’s not like a little boutique firm. … The only thing we do day to day is clips; other than that, everything is different.”


Now as a full publicist with seven clients including Universal Pictures, Summit Entertainment, and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Lieberson spends more of his day planning press tours and events. Time management is key, says coordinator Jenna Irish, SOC/BA '11, whose responsibilities include working public film screenings, helping prepare reports for studios that include audience feedback, and pitching story ideas to press members. 


“When I was an intern, the things I was concerned about getting done and my responsibilities were nothing compared to here,” Irish says. “The amount of stuff you’re working on is intense.”


But the intern program is engaging because it provides chances for students to come up with their own kind of promotional ideas, Lieberson and Irish both say. If an intern comes up with an idea for a partnership with a local business to promote an upcoming film, they’re encouraged to pursue it—“you get out how much you put in,” Lieberson notes—and that kind of leadership and dedication to a project will look good on a resume. 


And so far Raakkel Sims, SIS/BA '13, has put in a lot. Although her previous internships have been more directly related to her academic focus on international relations—including her internships with the White House in summer 2012 and Finland’s Foreign Ministry while she studied abroad in Brussels, Belgium, in fall 2012—her internship with Allied-THA has provided her more insight into marketing methods and targeted writing. Those skills may come in handy during her internship with the Department of State this fall, Sims says, and for her eventual career goal of joining the Foreign Service.


“It’s really broadened my capacity to think outside of the box,” says Sims, who has worked on campaigns for films like “The Big Wedding,” “Safe Haven,” and “The Purge,” of her internship. “I know I can apply marketing to different SIS aspects; if I’m writing a report, I know how to word it in a certain way so the person reading remains interested.”


The large contingent of AU interns have helped bring a sense of familiarity and comfort to her experience with Allied-THA, Sims says, and she would encourage any student—movie obsessed or not—to consider an internship with the firm for the chance to improve and develop creative thinking, public speaking, and research skills. You may even be small enough for Sims’ favorite part of the job.


“I’ve done a lot for the movie ‘Despicable Me 2,’ and there have been a lot of appearances of the Minion costumes, which I am fortunate enough to be short enough to fit into,” Sims says with a laugh. “So when I think of Allied, I think of the Minion costume. I always volunteer to do it because that’s a fun thing to do. Everyone can be creative—you don’t have to just be a marketing major or minor to be here.”

Tags: College of Arts and Sciences,Film,Film and Media Arts,School of Communication,School of International Service,Career Center,Career Development
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