The 2016 Communications Media Homecoming event, at the HUB Ohio Room, was a first for the department, giving students the opportunity to meet graduates of the program, make connections for internships, and gain valuable career advice.
The more than 55 alumni and guests attending the event have careers in a variety of media and communications areas, including television broadcasting, video production, radio, public relations, social media management, event planning, health communications, and many others. Some of the companies represented at the event included CBS Radio-Pittsburgh, Forever Media, Highmark Health, George Davison Studios, ROOT Sports Pittsburgh, Gatesman+Dave, Excela Health, Johnstown Tomahawks, Renda Broadcasting, and WJAC-TV, among many others.
Tom Havrilla (2003), a senior media producer with Wix Pix Productions in Johnstown, understands the importance of making connections. “I jumped at the opportunity to share my professional experience with students. The communications field has changed over the decades, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the professionalism and preparedness of the Comm Media students. The students had specific questions and were eager to hear the answers. I wish I had the opportunity to sit down with media professionals one-on-one and hear about their experiences when I was an undergrad. The fact that this event exists is just another example of the leaders of the department, not just teaching, but becoming advocates for their students.”
Jennifer Black (2007), a news anchor and reporter at WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio, is pictured here (right) with communications media students Amelia Atkins (next to Black), Courtney Deems (center), and Kevin Irwin, Jr. (left). Black said this was a motivated group. “Had a blast taking to this trio! They are driven and destined for great things. I told them this photo was a way for me to track their success.”
Atkins, a junior from Pittsburgh, experienced her first networking opportunity. “Meeting Jennifer was awesome. She was very down to earth and so willing to give me knowledge on the reporting field. She gave me a lot of good information and made me excited about my plans for the future.”
B. Gail Wilson, chairperson of the Department of Communications Media, spearheaded the event. “I could not be more pleased with our students or more grateful to our former students for the success of this event. The ‘buzz’ in the room was palpable. So many conversations going on at the same time. It was really very exciting.” Wilson went on to say, “Feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive. Our graduates were engaging, helpful, and willing to answer questions. Some internship connections and job shadowing opportunities have already been set.”
Megan Baker, a 1996 graduate of IUP’s Department of Communications Media, was the featured speaker. Baker is president and CEO of Baker Public Relations in Albany, New York, but started her career in television news as the evening news anchor for Capital News 9 and a news reporter anchor for WXXA-TV; both serving the Albany area. Baker talked to the group about the reality of making career changes. “In this day and age, it’s rare for people to stay on one career path. I transitioned from television news anchor/reporter to founder, president, and CEO of Baker Public Relations.”
An evening social gathering followed the afternoon event where alumni and guests had the opportunity to reconnect with classmates and former professors.