Cronkite grad gets an education – and an adventure – with dual degrees

Mauro Whiteman listening in a News21 meeting

When Mauro Whiteman enrolled at ASU’s Cronkite School in 2010, he suspected it would be an exciting time. He didn’t realize he’d be in for a major adventure.

The 22-year-old senior has covered a major election cycle for The Associated Press, visited Nogales, Ariz., and Mexico to report on complex border issues, witnessed the birth and death of the Occupy Phoenix movement and helped cast a national spotlight on the plight of post-9/11 veterans.

Whiteman will graduate this month from ASU with dual degrees – a master’s in mass communication and a bachelor of arts in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fittingly, he has been named the 2014 ASU Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate at Cronkite.

In addition to his two degrees, Whiteman will receive a pair of certificates in international studies and religion and conflict.

“When I started at the university, I didn’t want to leave here with just an understanding in journalism. I wanted a well-rounded education,” Whiteman said. “I want to make the world a better place through conflict resolution and understanding one another by finding solutions.”

Whiteman was raised in Great Falls, Mont., and says he contemplated the University of Montana, New York University and the University of California, Berkeley as college possibilities, but ultimately chose ASU's Cronkite School because of its state-of-the-art facilities and emphasis on digital media and studies. Whiteman admits he was initially intimidated “coming from a small pond to a big lake,” but overcame his fear through hard work and diligence.

He served as the executive editor at the Downtown Devil, an online newspaper run by students, as a reporter and multimedia producer at The State Press and as an intern at The Cronkite Journal. His talents were tapped by The Associated Press to cover the 2012 Arizona state elections; Reuters News in San Francisco on technology and startup companies; News 21, where he traveled to New York and Los Angeles for an exhaustive package on the challenges facing post-9/11 veterans; and most recently as a video producer for the National Journal in Washington, D.C.

Whiteman also pushes himself hard outside of the classroom. Starting his freshman year, he worked as a mentor at the Community Outreach and Advocacy for Refugees program in Tempe, while also teaching English as a second language at the Somali Bantu United Association of Greater Phoenix. Whiteman also lent his talents to former ASU President Lattie Coor as co-founder and creative director for The Manifesto Project, a statewide initiative to help Arizona retain its young leaders.

“Journalism at its core is about constantly learning and getting to know people who have stories to tell,” Whiteman said. “Many times those are underserved populations, people who are constantly struggling and perhaps don’t have a voice. I want to be able to provide that for them and never lose sight of that goal.”

Now that Whiteman has seen a bit of the world, his next goal is to try and change it. He says his dream job is to start a nonprofit for journalism education in smaller countries that are limiting free press and social media.

“Mauro represents everything that’s best about the Cronkite School. He’s serious about his profession, incredibly hard-working, strong in and out of the classroom and engaged with the community. And he takes chances; he stretches himself,” said Kristin Gilger, associate dean at Cronkite. “Mauro is a leader who is bound to make a difference, and I feel confident about the future of journalism knowing that he will be part of it.”

Whiteman will graduate with approximately 260 other journalism majors at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 15, at Grady Gammage Auditorium in Tempe.