COLLEGE PARK (5/24/19) — More than 130 students celebrated their completion of degree or professional certificate programs Thursday during the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism commencement ceremony at Ritchie Coliseum.
The ceremony, presided over by Merrill College Dean Lucy A. Dalglish, recognized the graduates, award winners and their families. Students have plans to start jobs in newsrooms around the country, to attend graduate school or to work in related fields.
Students asked Chelsea Janes, who was The Washington Post’s Washington Nationals beat reporter for four years before shifting to cover the 2020 election campaign, to give the commencement address. She encouraged the new graduates to believe in themselves, especially when others do not.
“There’s no reason to think that your perspective isn’t the one you should be listening to,” Janes said. “There’s no reason to think that that guy who says ‘you’re not going to be a writer, you can’t do broadcast journalism, you can’t do this,’ is right.
“Because for all you know, you might be the one who’s right about you. And it would be an absolute shame if you didn’t listen to you.”
Two students received special recognition during the ceremony: Merrill College faculty selected Danielle Stein to receive the Outstanding Broadcast News Senior Award and Katherine Brzozowski won the Outstanding Multimedia News Senior Award.
Capital News Service Broadcast Director Sue Kopen Katcef — attending her final commencement before retiring as a Merrill College faculty member — presented Stein with her award. Associate Professor Ira Chinoy presented Brzozowski’s award.
Ten students — Kathryn Brown, Jennifer Casale, Jordan Fox, Scott Gelman, Erin Nebbia, Samantha Rosen, Evan Silvera, Georgia Slater, Carly Taylor and Kelly Zheng were recognized by the journalism academic honor society, Kappa Tau Alpha, for outstanding academic achievement. Zheng was the Kappa Tau Alpha top scholar.
Karin Assmann was the lone Ph.D. student to participate in commencement. Assmann’s dissertation, “Learning to Love the Audience: How Journalists and Newsrooms Adjust to Audience Inclusion and Engagement,” was developed through visits to numerous newsrooms, where Assmann learned how those organizations approached audience engagement.
Daniel Oyefusi, chosen by fellow seniors as the student speaker for this commencement, reminded his classmates of the importance of journalism.
That importance was hammered home for Oyefusi this past semester, when he worked in the CNS Annapolis bureau alongside professional journalists who survived last June’s shooting in the Capital Gazette newsroom.
“We live in a time when journalists, and frankly journalism, is under attack. But I want every graduate to know, even today, that wherever you are and whatever you do, it’s important, it’s necessary and it’s valuable,” said Oyefusi, who will join The Baltimore Sun this fall to cover the Baltimore Ravens.
“That’s from a White House correspondent holding the president accountable, to a little sports writer like me, asking a few tough questions after a game.”
Three awards were presented Thursday in memory of Gerald Fischman (‘79), John McNamara (‘83) and Rob Hiaasen, an adjunct lecturer at Merrill College. They were among the five people killed in the Capital Gazette shooting.
Keombré McLaughlin won the Gerald Fischman Award for News Commentary and Criticism, Andy Kostka won the John McNamara Sports Writing Award and David Lightman (‘71) won the Rob Hiaasen Adjunct Faculty Award.
Dalglish, the college’s dean, concluded the ceremony by reiterating the new graduates’ obligation to facts and their duty to truthfully and fairly inform the public.
“You know that your communities, indeed our democracy, need timely, factual, fair and insightful coverage of the issues that matter, whether they be a presidential election or a local zoning commission controversy,” Dalglish said. “We are counting on you. We need you. Be proud.
“Remember, journalism is an act of citizenship.”