Truth and justice go hand in hand. Journalists tell truth to power; public relations professionals offer accessible information about organizations and officials to the public; filmmakers can show the plight of the marginalized and tell the stories of the silenced. All when many would turn their backs in the face of fear, in the face of uncertainty.
School of Communication graduates not only care about telling stories, they care about telling the truth. Finding truths, revealing them, protecting them. Truths, which not only impact the lives of the people who live them but impact the lives of the people who hear them. Yes, truth and justice go hand in hand, but truth also aligns itself with education. Our education. One that we have received from our professors, our friends, and everyone we’ve had the privilege to learn from in our time as American University students.
This year we had so many truth tellers to look up and learn from. Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of the New York Times nailed down the story of Harvey Weinstein’s repeated assaults. Reporters at CNN were the first to break the news that the first charges had been filed in the special counsel Russia investigation, the first time that the public realized people in Trump’s orbit would go to prison. It took countless spokespeople in Puerto Rico to help tell the story of how U.S. citizens were suffering after Hurricane Maria.
As Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan put it, to tell the truth, we need to be “stronger, more courageous, [and] stiffer-spined.”
I know as a class we are nothing if not grateful for the people who fostered our inner selves, our inner truths... everyone who got us to American. We are indebted to the community who helped us stay here, thrive here, grow, prosper and discover what the truth means to us.
Success is not the exception at SOC, but the rule, because the students who graduate from SOC are all exceptional.
SOC faculty and staff have given us everything we have by being committed to educating truth-tellers and nurturing them, placing us on many individualized roads of success. Professors not only give out their personal phone numbers, but they expect students to use them. They focus on outreach, communication, dignity, and commitment to justice.
They know that they’ve given us the tools to go out into the world and tell the truth. American University School of Communication graduates will become the communicators who remind the world that there is a clear difference between truth and propaganda, between fact and falsehood. Between us and the obstacles that we will face.
Class of 2018, we are the ones who will cast away the shadows of the future. American University, thank you, so much, for the light. We will carry it with us always.
Shira Stein is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a minor in Biology. Over her time at American University, she has been the Dean's Intern at The Washington Post, Bloomberg BNA and The Durango Herald. She has covered Congress, an Inauguration, a gubernatorial election, marches on the Mall and had four stories on the Bloomberg Terminal. Shira also attended the Online News Association's 2017 conference and spoke on a panel at the Newseum about making the workplace safer for interns in the wake of the Me Too movement. Starting in June, Shira will be working at Bloomberg Law as a health care reporter.