Julia Wallace, a former Cox Media Group executive and leading editor of newspapers in Atlanta and Phoenix, urged the newest graduates of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to courageously chase their dreams.
Wallace, who is joining the Cronkite School next month as the Frank Russell Chair, was the keynote convocation speaker Monday at ASU Gammage, where 126 students in attendance received degrees in front of more than 800 guests.
In her address, Wallace shared lessons from the “Wizard of Oz” and her 40-year journalism career to help graduates navigate the evolving media landscape.
“As you head down your personal yellow brick road, you’ll be in great shape if you: Use your brains; listen to your heart; and yes, flex your courage,” said Wallace, who previously led the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming the first female editor-in-chief in the newspaper’s history.
Wallace, who also is a former managing editor at The Arizona Republic, touched on the state of journalism, noting the speed of change in the industry has significantly accelerated. However, she said journalism’s mission remains the same — to inform the public.
“As you sit here today, you have your life before you,” she said. “I need to tell you, I’m pretty envious. You are graduating from the greatest journalism school in the country at a time of great change and opportunity.”
This fall semester, the Cronkite School graduated a total of 184 bachelor’s degree students, with 90 earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication, 83 receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies and 11 earning a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Journalism.
The Cronkite School also graduated 26 master’s degree students, 13 earning a Master of Journalism and Mass Communication and another 13 earning a Master of Arts in Sports Journalism. Miles Romney received a doctoral degree, the fifth awarded by the school.
Student speaker Trever Migliorino of Peoria, Arizona, urged graduates to be in control of their dreams. Migliorino, who served as technical director for the Cronkite News student-produced newscast on Arizona PBS, donned his control room headset during his speech and directed students in tossing their graduation caps at the end of the ceremony.
“Make sure that we continue to put our best foot forward,” Migliorino said. “Help others when they are down. Show cultural relativism and bravery. And lastly, don’t let yourself be caught as something you are not.”
Cronkite Dean and University Vice Provost Christopher Callahan said a quarter of the graduating class earned high academic honors. Sixteen students achieved summa cum laude status with grade-point averages of at least 3.8; another 18 graduated magna cum laude with GPAs of 3.6 to 3.79; and 18 graduated cum laude with GPAs of 3.4 to 3.59.
“Through your immersive learning, you are making a real difference in the lives of everyday Arizonans through your in-depth and innovative reporting,” Callahan said. “We are proud of all you have done.”
In addition, 11 students were inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, a national college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism. The top 10 percent of the graduating class is inducted into the society each semester.
Student award winners
Outstanding Graduate Student
Outstanding Undergraduate Students
Jose Carrera, Heather Hudzinski and Cassidy Trowbridge
Highest Grade Point Average in Journalism
Highest Grade Point Average in Media Studies
Top Innovator Award
Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society
Katy Burge, Giselle Cancio, Alexander Caprariello, Joshua Glatt, Madalyn Heimann, Heather Hudzinski, Amanda Jensen, Celina Jimenez, Catherine Ann Nolen, Preston Scott-Hall and Cassidy Trowbridge
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