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Editor inspires students to 'take charge' of their careers

May 16, 2011

The former executive editor of the Detroit Free Press urged the newest graduates of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to take charge of their careers and create their own roles as they enter fast-changing media industries.

“So much of journalism today is about moving beyond the routine,” keynote convocation speaker Caesar Andrews told the 213 Cronkite graduates and some 2,000 guests at a filled Grady Gammage Auditorium on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University. “This creates a dynamic need for innovation and for new hires ready to take on new ways of getting the job done.”

Andrews, who was a member of the original staff of USA Today and had a 30-year career as a senior editor in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Washington and Michigan, was the school’s Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics in the spring semester.

The award-winning editor and 2011 winner of the McGruder Award for Media Diversity told the graduates that the Cronkite School had prepared them well for the media world.

“The accomplished cast of faculty and staff at Cronkite have provided you a tremendous foundation,” Andrews said.

He told students they would be entering a vastly different world of journalism than he had experienced.

“Some of you will still join traditional employers, and you will find most of them hustling to figure out new ways of connecting with readers and viewers and listeners,” Andrews said. “Some of you will link up with, and maybe eventually lead, entrepreneurial organizations.”

But whatever one’s path, Andrews said, “the job of writing the script, of imagining the role that fits for you, is uniquely yours.

“As you write your script, stay mindful of the need to blend the new with the best of what always drives great journalism. So yes, embrace your place in a bold digital world. Be part of the innovations needed to attract audiences – and revenue. And remember that for all that must be urgent and new and different, some principles hold their own in any era.”

Student convocation speaker Gitzel Puente, 22, of Yuma, Ariz., echoed Andrews’ sentiments, reminding her fellow students that they had the power to invent their own careers in the new media landscape.

“Remember that your life’s rundown depends on you,” Puente said, referencing the term broadcast journalists use to plan their newscasts. “You produce it, and the good thing is that you can edit it too, so if you don’t like something now, then change it. Re-order your rundown according to your experiences and your goals.”

In the spring class of graduates, 26 students achieved summa cum laude status (with a grade point average of at least 3.8); another 29 graduated magna cum laude (3.6 to 3.79 GPA); and 41 graduated with cum laude honors (3.4 to 3.59 GPA). Seven students were recognized with Moeur Awards for obtaining a 4.0 GPA in eight or fewer consecutive semesters.

In addition, 25 students were inducted into the Kappa Tau Alpha society, a national college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism. Only the top 10 percent of the graduating class is inducted each semester into KTA at convocation.

Dean Christopher Callahan said the school’s namesake, Walter Cronkite, who died in 2009, “lives on in the values of our graduating students,” and that he was proud of the graduates’ accomplishments.

“You are quite simply the very best journalism students in the United States,” he said.

Student Award Winners:

Outstanding Undergraduate Students
Amy Fleishans
Lauren Gambino
Tessa Muggeridge
Colton Shone

Outstanding Graduate Students
Heather Billings
Lauren Gilger

Highest Grade Point Average
Maria Polletta

ASU Alumni Association Award
Kylee Gauna

Moeur Award
Tara Burns
Elena Difiore
Danee Garone
Kylee Gauna
Maria Polletta
Channing Turner
Chelci Vaughan

Kappa Tau Alpha Honor Society
Tara Alatorre
Alecxandra Boyle
Tara Burns
Elena Difiore
Stacy Dillier
Lauren Gambino
Danee Garone
Kylee Gauna
Lauren Gilger
Timur Guseynov
Taryn Hale
Jessica Hickam
Heidi Homa
Scott Huscher
Jessica Johnson
Alexander MacLean
Staci McCabe
Rudi O’Keefe Zelman
Samuel Pagel
Maria Polletta
Adam Sneed
Kirsten Stubbs
Channing Turner
Chelci Vaughan
Lacey Zellmer

Student Speaker
Gitzel Puente