SBU/Journalism Commencement 2010: Our third graduating class

It’s over.

The busy spring semester is finally finished. All the work is graded, all the grades are posted, the orations have been heard and the cap, gown and master’s hood returned to the university bookstore. Our third class of graduates has moved its tassels from right to left.

I’m enormously proud of this group, as I have been of our first two graduating classes, but in some ways of this group just a bit more. These graduates embody not only their own talents and perseverence but also our growth as a faculty and a school.

It’s our biggest class yet (seven majors in 2008, 19 last year, 29 last week). Three are going to prestigious graduate programs in journalism (Columbia, CUNY). One has already started as a reporter for the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder, a six-day-a-week newspaper near his upstate home. One has a job as a desk assistant with WCBS-TV/Channel 2 in New York, which she earned after proving herself in a semester-long full-time internship. Another expects offers from either of two major metro news websites. Another has been called back for a second interview at Cosmopolitan. Another will be attending law school at St. John’s University. For students graduating in this economy at this point in the evolution of the journalism industry, having a quarter of the cohort with something solid ahead of them seems a victory. And I expect to hear more good news in the coming months.

I’m confident because while we as a school still have a lot to figure out about what and how to teach, we’re learning from each class of graduates, making changes and building on our successes. One thing we’re learning to do better is teaching professionalism. We have emphasized resume writing, portfolio construction and mock interviews, and the results show in the confidence with which our graduates are approaching the job hunt. The Cosmo girl (couldn’t help that) practiced with me in our senior-project class. The assignment was to find a job posting online that she really wanted, tailor her resume and cover letter for that position, research the organization and then sit for a mock interview. When she went for the real thing, she was ready, with ideas for the website and a successful senior project on a difficult topic that showed she could report, write, produce a video, take digital photos and add interactivity online.

Our push for every student to have one solid journalism internship, if not two or three, is beginning to show results, too. Fewer students than I would have liked interned, but 14, nearly half, did, 10 more than once, at newspapers, websites, magazines, television and radio stations, the full gamut. A couple “walked,” as they say, in Friday’s commencement ceremony but are postponing their official graduation date until August to squeeze in one last internship that requires academic credit. We have 15 students interning for credit this summer, at last count, mostly juniors, so I expect the percentage with internships on their resumes to rise next year.

On the day of the ceremony, in their red caps and gowns, many seemed both joyful and anxious. Who could blame them for a few jitters as they leave the intimacy of our program for the big wide world? But they’ll do well. I believe this from the bottom of my heart.

    • Rhoda Selvin
    • May 24th, 2010

    A very impressive record! Not only the students, but the faculty must be doing something right.

    • Rachel Shapiro
    • May 26th, 2010

    I got goosebumps reading this because it was me not too long ago and it’s exciting, yet intimidating but a great experience. Wish I could have been there at commencement. So proud of the J-school [tear].

  1. Hey Selvin,

    I really enjoyed reading this. I think a great lesson I learned in college from professor’s like yourself is that if you believe in yourself you can achieve anything. You must be hard-working and dedicated, but you can not be scared to show personality. I have never been a great writer when it comes to grammar and it is still a battle I am fighting. I have realized though that life is not about being perfect because we are all human and employers are more willing to hire someone who is not perfect and can be molded and is eager to listen and learn new things.
    I am happy that I came into my company just for the experience and wanted to one day two years from now work myself up to copy editor. The opportunity came up and I got it. I am so happy. I also feel bad for fellow Jrn classmates you have not found a job and I know they are great writers, but perhaps are too shy and are not making the right connections.
    Anyway I have always loved broadcast and hope to get back into that, but for now I am content. Thanks for everything.

    Christine Vargas
    CCS- Copy Editor/Proofreader
    112 W 34th street, New York NY 10120

    • Thanks for the note, Christine. Good to hear how happy you are. And I can see how much your writing has improved.

      Professor Selvin

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