Class of 2020 Commencement events to be held Sept. 17-19

Syracuse University will host a Commencement ceremony—delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic—and other celebratory events for the Class of 2020 during the weekend of Sept. 17–19.  

Commencement will be held Sept. 19 at 10 a.m. at the Stadium. This University-wide ceremony, where Syracuse University Chancellor and President Kent Syverud will formally confer degrees, is for all undergraduate, graduate and doctoral candidates. Doors open at 8 a.m.

Following Commencement, all 2020 Newhouse graduates and their families are invited to join Dean Mark J. Lodato and the faculty and staff for a celebratory reception. The event will include a dean’s welcome, recognition of participating graduates and an opportunity to reconnect with faculty. A precise time and location will be announced soon; stay tuned for details.

For more information about Commencement activities for the Class of 2020, see the event listing.

Forever Orange: Matt Brodsky Explores Intersection of AI and Graphic Design 

Matt Brodsky is fascinated by questions about how generative artificial intelligence can be used to foster his creativity as a graphic designer. 

How can responsible use of AI provide visual examples that spark new ideas? How can AI be used to turn a static website design into a fully working digital product?  

Matt Brodsky (Photo by Genaro C. Armas)

Brodsky’s talents have been recognized by Graphic Design USA, which named him a 2023 Student to Watch. In fall 2022 during his senior year at the Newhouse School, three of his digital portraits celebrating sneaker culture were displayed at the Sneaker House art installation in Detroit.  

But, after graduating from Newhouse in May with a bachelor’s degree in visual communications in the graphic design track, Brodsky thought he had much more to learn about the role of AI in his field. He didn’t go far.  

Brodsky enrolled in the advanced media management master’s program at Newhouse in fall 2023, opting to continue studying the emerging technology with Adam Peruta, the program director and associate professor of magazine, news and digital journalism. Peruta also served as a mentor to Brodsky as an undergraduate.  

“I thought there were really big shifts happening in the world and, quite frankly, if I wasn’t going to pursue a master’s degree now, I would have to do it later anyway,” Brodsky said.  

But developments in AI can emerge quickly. And Brodsky feels he and others like him who are part of Generation Z (classified generally as those born between the late 1990s and early 2010s) bear an urgent responsibility to lead the way in the responsible use of AI and other emerging technologies. 

“We’re a generation that was old enough where we still had to learn to write with pen and paper, and learned reasoning, critical thinking and other real skills that the generations before us had to learn,” Brodsky said. “But we’re young enough to adapt to this generative AI transformation.”  

Two people stand together with a framed photograph between them
Brodsky and Adam Peruta (right) stand with one of Brodsky’s digital portraits celebrating sneaker culture. (Photo by Genaro C. Armas)

Brodsky was also eligible for a Forever Orange Scholarship, which provides half the tuition for students who enroll full-time in a qualifying graduate degree or certificate program at Syracuse University. The scholarship is automatically available to graduating seniors who are eligible for admission and commit to attend graduate school immediately after graduation. 

Brodsky’s interest in graphic design started while growing up in Chicago, where sneaker culture is strong because of NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. He started making sneaker art in high school, eventually creating an independent study project making sneaker portraits and creating art on commission for family and friends. 

His passion for graphic design has expanded as he learned more about visual media and different ways to incorporate emerging technology into his skillset. 

Brodsky is grateful for how Newhouse faculty members like Peruta, Reneé Stevens and Ken Harper fostered his creativity and encouraged him to explore. He credits the interdisciplinary focus of Newhouse’s visual communications program with honing his storytelling skills through design.  

“Matt’s approach to integrating AI with graphic design is not only innovative but it’s also reshaping how we think about creativity in the digital age,” said Peruta. “His ability to harness AI to enhance and expand his graphic design talents has set a new bar for what is possible, making him a standout student here at Newhouse.”  

Now, Brodsky still gets to interact with his mentors, especially Peruta, as an advanced media management master’s student. The Fall 2023 semester included an internship as an AI and design specialist at Get Real XR, which describes itself as a company that leads businesses into the metaverse.   

a person sitting looking at a laptop computer
“We’re young enough to adapt to this generative AI transformation,” Brodsky said of his generation. (Photo by Genaro C. Armas)

Brodsky arrived at Get Real XR just as key members of the company’s marketing department had left. Drawing in part from what he was learning at Newhouse about emerging technologies, Brodsky said he helped the company fill some of the responsibilities left uncovered by the departures, while also contributing new AI-driven marketing content. 

“My background in graphic design has been really helpful in testing generative AI,” he said. “If you don’t get the response you want (from an AI platform,) you go back and tweak. It’s kind of a similar process to design.”  

He plans to continue working with Get Real XR and the AI framework he created to produce content in the spring. At Newhouse, he’s excited about taking a course on launching digital media ventures with Sean Branagan, executive director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Newhouse.  

Brodsky is also curious about issues around copyright and generative AI, including questions such as whether he can copyright AI-generated artwork if he trains an AI model to produce designs or artwork based only on his style and previous work.  

“Why can’t I set that precedent,” Brodsky asked. “It’s something that I’m looking forward to try to achieve in the future.”  

Breaking Barriers: Black Women at Newhouse

As Black History Month unfolds, it is crucial to acknowledge the remarkable achievements of Black women in academia. At Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, Kalaya Sibley, a graduate student majoring in public diplomacy and global communications, and Bilhissa Fadiga, a senior majoring in public relations, stand as examples of resilience and leadership, shedding light on the challenges and triumphs experienced by Black women in their pursuit of excellence. 

Kalaya Sibley (left) and Bilhissa Fadiga

Sibley, a promising graduate student, adeptly navigates the complexities of public diplomacy and global communications. Rooted in her heritage, Sibley’s journey is driven by a commitment to amplify underrepresented voices.

“Being a Black woman in public diplomacy means representing diverse perspectives authentically, fostering understanding and challenging preconceptions on a global scale,” she said. 

Sibley’s academic focus on public diplomacy highlights her dedication to bridging cultural divides and addressing global issues through effective communication. Her journey exemplifies the transformative potential of diverse perspectives in shaping diplomatic relations and narratives on an international scale. 

Fadiga, a senior in public relations, provides a fresh perspective in the dynamic field of communications. Approaching the end of her undergraduate journey, Fadiga sees public relations as a powerful tool for reshaping narratives and challenging traditional perceptions.

“Being a Black woman means actively contributing to the discourse and challenging traditional narratives. It’s about consistently showing up, even when it feels uncomfortable, and rewriting the narrative to be more inclusive and reflective of our diverse society,” she said. 

Both Sibley and Fadiga are integral members of the Syracuse chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), positioning themselves at the forefront of positive change. Actively shaping the narrative surrounding Black women in the ever-evolving field of public relations, their forward-thinking approach and steadfast commitment to inclusivity make them trailblazers within the Newhouse School community. This involvement in NABJ further emphasizes their dedication to fostering diversity and inclusion in the realm of media and communication. 

Integral to the support system for both Sibley and Fadiga is Wes Whiteside, associate director of the Newhouse School’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) office, which has provided a safe space for these women within the Newhouse School. Whiteside’s welcoming approach and the IDEA office’s commitment to fostering an inclusive environment have played a crucial role in making them feel supported and valued in their academic pursuits. 

Jalyss Agosto

Both women openly acknowledge the hurdles they encounter within their respective fields.

“It’s crucial to stay true to yourself and your identity. In the face of challenges, remember that your unique perspective is an asset, not a hindrance,” Sibley said.

Fadiga echoes this sentiment, encouraging fellow Black women to challenge norms and actively contribute to shaping evolving narratives in the field of public relations. 

In honoring Black History Month, the stories of Sibley and Fadiga showcase the remarkable contributions made by Black women at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. Their academic journeys exemplify the power of representation and the transformative impact that diverse voices bring to the fields of public diplomacy and public relations. Through their passion and commitment and supported by the welcoming atmosphere of the IDEA office, they pave the way for future generations, inspiring a more inclusive and equitable future in academia.

Jalyss Agosto is a graduate student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.

Reflecting on the Importance of Critique in Photography

Surya Vaidy headshot
Surya Vaidy

Photography, as I have come to understand from my mentors and personal experience, is not only clicking the shutter button at a subject that interests you. While there is an aspect of serendipity in the practice of photography, it is far more about learning how to see. Be it fashion, photojournalism or anything in between, photographers are people who learn how to see in a particular way and make images from that way of seeing.  

No one, however, learns in a vacuum, least of all aspiring photographers. I firmly believe that. How can we as students learn how to see if the only input in our work is our own?  

Like many art forms, photography is an iterative process. Photographers can produce work and, through critique, refine their practice and style. Rarely have I met a student in my time here at Syracuse University who simply picks up a camera and knows what their creative voice is with clarity. I am not making an understatement when I say having another set of eyes look over your work is important. Students especially benefit from review and critique. If, for example, a student is working on a project that isn’t communicating a concept or story well, how would they know if they never receive feedback? Review and critique are how we begin to understand our strengths so that we better capitalize on them, as well as being made aware of our weaknesses so that we may improve upon them.  

I began taking photography seriously my sophomore year of college. Being admitted into the photo, video and design minor in Newhouse’s visual communications program introduced me to teachers and peers who challenged my ideas about my photography. Needless to say, I did not take it very well at first. To me, my work was personal, and any critique seemed to be an attack on me as photographer. It was a difficult mindset to shed, but once I was free of it, I felt as though my work improved more steadily.  

It would be remiss of me to forget to note that critique is very subjective. Anytime someone offers critique of a photographer’s work, they are offering a perspective that is informed by their own experiences and tastes. I myself have shown my work to others whom I couldn’t guarantee would like my work. Nevertheless, perspective is important, and just because someone doesn’t outright like what I make, doesn’t mean its wholly wrong. It does, however, make me double check what I have produced with a more critical eye. I know firsthand how hard it is to separate yourself from your own work. It can be extremely difficult to see the broader picture, see how images work together, or even if the technique you are using is effective. In these instances, critique has always provided clarity and the opportunity to refocus my goals while working as a photographer. It has been an invaluable part of my education as an undergraduate and even now as a graduate student pursuing visual communications. 

Surya Vaidy is a student in the multimedia, photography and design master’s program at the Newhouse School.

Designing for Good: Newhouse Alumna Creates Mindful Work in Cape Town Internship

Shannon Kirkpatrick ‘23 wants her designs to make a difference. 

Shannon Kirkpatrick portrait

From high school art enthusiast to visual communications major to graphic designer at the Kolisi Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa, her journey encapsulates a narrative of continuous learning, evolving interests and the pursuit of meaningful design anchored in social impact.  

For Kirkpatrick, creativity in art has been a passion since childhood. Growing up in Syracuse, she leaned into her inclination towards visual modes of expression through printmaking, drawing and painting in high school. After her acceptance to the Newhouse School, she initially pursued a degree in television, radio and film, but the film industry didn’t feel like the right fit, she said.  

She attended a presentation about the power of design in storytelling by Bruce Strong, a visual communications associate professor, and “it sparked something deep down,” she said.  

Following a recommendation from Strong, Kirkpatrick met with Claudia Strong, a visual communications adjunct professor. The meeting steered her towards the realm of graphic design—a pivot that felt more aligned with her evolving interests. 

five people stand and smile together
Kirkpatrick (far left) with friends during her Kolisi Foundation internship. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Kirkpatrick)

“I walked into Professor Claudia Strong’s office hours the same day, and she must have given a compelling case to join the vis department because I switched my entire career path shortly after,” Kirkpatrick said. 

She found the graphic design program in the visual communications department wasn’t just about aesthetics; it was about narrating stories, articulating ideas and creating a dialogue through design. As she delved deeper into the program, Kirkpatrick found a platform to hone her skills as a designer for The Daily Orange, a student-run campus newspaper. 

three people pose and smile with their hands in the air
“This three-month experience in South Africa broadened my creative horizon—I know what it’s like to design with heart and see the tangible results, and now there’s no turning back.” (Photo courtesy of Shannon Kirkpatrick)

“The opportunity to apply my design and art direction skills to a fully functional, award-winning newspaper like The Daily Orange was an incredibly unique opportunity that you don’t get in other, more traditional design schools,” she said. “Being a part of the DO shaped the designer I am today.” 

In spring 2023, an exciting opportunity arose: a graphic design internship with the Kolisi Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to combat inequality in South Africa, with initiatives focused on food security, education, gender-based violence and access to sports. 

a person sits at a desk and works on a laptop
“I decided to strive towards this career theme: creating designs that make a tangible difference,” Kirkpatrick said. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Kirkpatrick)

“From the first moment I heard about the internship, to the following meetings and interview, I was feeling a mixture of disbelief, excitement and curiosity,” Kirkpatrick said.  

She graduated from Syracuse University in May 2023 and quickly moved to a new continent, living and working in Cape Town for 10 weeks that summer. As a member of the foundation’s graphic design team, Kirkpatrick assisted with a variety of print and digital design projects, including an annual report, promotional materials and animated social media graphics.  

“Working with the Kolisi Foundation team had that real-world connection I sought,” she said. “The work I made mattered, and I could see the communities where my designs went first-hand. I’m happy to know those designs will continue impacting people there, every day.” 

The initial days of living in Cape Town were challenging as she navigated through cultural changes, but an adventurous hike with newfound friends at sunrise to Lion’s Head—a mountain overlooking Cape Town—marked a shift.  

“At this point, about halfway through my time in South Africa, I was finally starting to feel at home,” she said. “I had established strong friendships, felt comfortable with my host family and started finding my favorite hikes and cafes in Cape Town.” 

a person stands at the top of Lion's Head mountain in Cape Town, South Africa
Kirkpatrick hiking Lion’s Head in Cape Town. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Kirkpatrick)

As the internship came to a close, Kirkpatrick found that the designs she was producing, the intention behind them and her future were irrevocably changed. 

“Combining a new cultural experience with a design internship had a profound impact on me—I saw the true meaning behind ‘designing for good,’ where my designs would help this incredible nonprofit tell its stories,” she said.  

“Afterwards, I decided to strive towards this career theme: creating designs that make a tangible difference.” 

a person points to a sign pointing towards New York on the top of a mountain
Kirkpatrick on a hike in Cape Town. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Kirkpatrick)
a person hangs out of a safari vehicle on a game reserve
On a safari on Amakhala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Kirkpatrick)

Now back in the United States, Kirkpatrick remains committed to designing purpose-driven work that creates positive change. She still designs for the Kolisi Foundation remotely and continues to shape the trajectory of her career as she blends her passions for art and social impact. 

“This three-month experience in South Africa broadened my creative horizon—I know what it’s like to design with heart and see the tangible results, and now there’s no turning back.”

Allen Huang is a graduate student in the media studies program at the Newhouse School.

Newhouse Students Honored in Berlin Indie Film Festival, White House Eyes of History Contest

Alexandra Siambekos ’23 won the Best First Time Director, Documentary award in January in the Berlin Indie Film Festival’s monthly competition. She won for her documentary film “The Keepers of Manari,” which served as Siambekos’s honors thesis while she was a television, radio and film student at Newhouse. 

Alexandra Siambekos filming “The Keepers of Manari” in Arcadia, Greece. (Photo courtesy of Alexandra Siambekos)

Eyes of History

Four Newhouse students earned accolades in this year’s Eyes of History contest—sponsored by The White House News Photographers Association—including three wins for broadcast and digital journalism (BDJ) senior Nicole Aponte and a First Place honor for BDJ senior John Perik. This contest is held annually to select the best in visual journalism across still, video and multimedia disciplines, with a division exclusively for students.

Winners will be recognized later this spring at the Eyes of History Gala.

Runner-Up – Nicole Aponte
View gallery

First Place – John Perik
Second Place – Nicole Aponte
Third Place – Nicole Aponte
View gallery

Second Place – Collin Bell
Third Place – Murphy McFarlane
View gallery

Newhouse Students Win 25 Awards at BEA Festival of Media Arts

Newhouse School students and their projects had a phenomenal showing at the 2024 Broadcast Education Association (BEA) Festival of Media Arts with 25 awards, including a Best of Festival honor for the The NewsHouse‘s “Infodemic” reporting project and five First Place wins. Among the awards were also honors in the Screenwriting, Animation and Esports Coverage categories.

BEA will recognize the students again April 13-16 during the BEA2024 Convention in Las Vegas.


Best of Festival, Student Interactive Media and Emerging Technologies: “Infodemic” by The Infodemic Staff (Also, First Place Website category)

Multimedia Storytelling, First Place: “Phone scammers wreak havoc on Americans and their wallets” by Alejandro Rosales, Sarah Dolgin, Emily Baird and Matthew Brodsky

Video Sports Story/Feature (long), First Place (tie): “SyraCruz” by Will Birks

Video Sports News Program, First Place: “Syracuse Women’s Basketball Vs. Northeastern University – ACCN Pre-Game Show” by Audrey Glynn

     Second Place: “Syracuse Men’s Basketball vs. Daemen Postgame Show” by Stella Balaskas

     Award of Excellence: On The Bench — April 11, 2023” by Ryan Bridges, Cameron Ezeir and Nick Zelaya

Graduate Interactive Media and Emerging Technologies, First Place: 44 Films Mobile App by Jake Sala

Graduate – Audio, Third Place: “Water Towers (The Color of Her Eyes)” by Mikey Alessie

Graduate – Documentary, Award of Excellence: Bets on a Burning Farm” by Collin Bell

Graduate – Film and Video, Second Place: “Beautiful Daze by Francs” by Timothy Lamar Cato III

Micro-Documentary, Third Place: Sentient Incentive” by Murphy McFarlane

     Award of Excellence: “Primavera Negra: Black Spring” by Jorge Rosales

Animation, Third Place (tie): “Time Capsule” by Jesse Monford

     Award of Excellence: “Echoes in the Sand” by Miles Isgrig

Film and Video – Narrative, Award of Excellence: “The Hunter” by Tim Rose, James McConnell, Daisy Leepson and Kenneth Barrist

Radio Features, Third Place: Phone scammers wreak havoc on Americans and their wallets” by Alejandro Rosales (WAER/Infodemic)

Television Newscast (Less than 3 Days a Week), Second Place (tie): CitrusTV: Market Shares — November 10, 2023” by Jake Morel, Sean Dempsey, Peter Elliott and Bradley Hoppenstein

Television Newscast (4/5 Days a Week),  Second Place: CitrusTV News Live at 6 — April 21, 2023” by Josh Meyers, Teagan Brown and Jake Morel

Television Short Feature, Third Place: “Preaching Pride to the Choirby Nicole Aponte (NCC News)

Television Long Feature, Award of Excellence: Miraculous Marathon Meg” by John Perik (NCC News)

Television Hard News, Award of Excellence: “Syracuse Reacts to Controversial Speaker” by Nicole Aponte (CitrusTV)

Scriptwriting – Narrative Feature, Third Place: “Dance Dads” by Samantha DeNaro

Audio/Video Sports Event: Play by Play Talent, Award of Excellence: “Syracuse Crunch vs. Hershey Bears: AHL Hockey” by Jared Johnston

Esports Coverage, Third Place: Worlds Quarterfinals, NiKo Returns to G2 and Valorant Challengers Announced | The eSports Juice Box” by Hayden Kim and James Wu


Data Journalism Project Launches, Focuses on Impact of Police Vehicle Accidents in NY

Photo illustration of a crash involving a police car
Photo illustration by Peter Pietrangelo/USA TODAY Network

Police vehicle accidents and the impact such crashes have had on communities across New York State are the focus of a new data journalism project involving Newhouse School students working in partnership with reporters from the USA Today Network and Central Current.

The first two stories from the “Driving Force” investigative series were published last week on The NewsHouse, the result of exhaustive reporting that began in June 2023. The initial stories looked at Syracuse police crashes and emergency driver training for officers in New York State, with more articles set to be published over the next few months.

At Newhouse, the project was led by Jodi Upton, Knight Chair in Data and Explanatory Journalism, and Nausheen Husain, assistant professor of magazine, news and digital journalism. Students in three of Upton’s data journalism classes read hundreds of pages of documents, pulling out details such as the type of conduct, date, officer involved and the resulting discipline in a process called “data tagging.” 

The Driving Force reporting team meets at the Newhouse School in September 2023. (Photo by William Ramsey/USA Today Network)

The exercise helped the students to grasp the importance of how government PDFs can be converted into data for analysis, Upton and Husain said. The team went through the records, court papers and other state and police documents to locate individuals who were injured or killed in police vehicle accidents.

Overall, the reporting collaboration now includes 35,000 records from 115 departments ranging from those in large urban areas to village departments with only a handful of officers.

Upton and Husain said the partnership is building a public-facing police vehicle crash database. It plans to hold workshops to help the public and other journalists inspect local police department documents and understand the impact police vehicle crashes have had on communities. 

The investigation was supported with funding from the Data-Driven Reporting Project. That project is funded by the Google News Initiative in partnership with Northwestern University-Medill.

Master’s Alumni Profile: Justin Maccagnan G’22

Justin Maccagnan G’22

Newhouse Master’s Program: Television, Radio and Film
Current Position: Production Support Engineer at NBCUniversal and CNBC Business Channel

How did you obtain your current position?

This position, weirdly enough, came through a LinkedIn recruiter. My profile was suggested to her as I had a large technical background working as an engineer for trucks, stadiums and universities. I’ll be honest, I thought it was spam, so I ignored it, but after looking her up, I decided to talk to her. We had two interviews and here we are. It has been nothing short of spectacular since. 

What’s an average day like for you on the job?

As a production support engineer, I support all technical equipment for CNBC business channel and NBCUniversal, specifically the New York offices at the NASDAQ. This includes camera equipment, graphics operation systems, INews software, transmission technology and control room operations (any equipment breaks, I am fixing it). Aside from this, our shop has also merged with the IT department. So, I am also tasked with making new employee work accounts, troubleshooting computer programming issues, internet software updates, fixing PC routers and dealing with any issues that may be IT related. 

Any given day can be vastly different, which is why I love this job so much. We are a call support shop, so we respond to whoever calls with an issue, meaning one day I could be working on an INews issue and the next I am working on a camera problem in one of the main studios. On a regular day, I am also working on major projects that the network needs done. These projects come in spurts, but they are very exciting, and I love knowing that I am working on the future studios/equipment of CNBC.  

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current position?

Classes in sports and TV production were what helped prepare me the most for my current position. With professors like Olivia Stomski and Andy Robinson, I was able to obtain base knowledge of how to work in sports production and operate cameras as well as learn technical aspects of production. Specifically with Robinson’s class, the greatest part was staying after our show tapings and studying the technical aspects that went into operating the graphics system as well as the TD switchboard. I never thought staring at wires would be so enjoyable but after seeing how every wire contributed to the broadcast, I was hooked. Without Robinson’s class, I don’t know if I would have gone in the direction I did. 

All of the hard skills I learned were from being an engineer intern for the ACC Network and Syracuse Athletics. I did this job for the entire time I was in Syracuse. Things I learned included how to make ethernet cables, hardwiring cameras, setting up audio consoles, troubleshooting video signal issues and cleaning fiber cables. I developed a very close friendship with the chief engineer of Syracuse Athletics, and that friendship both led to my current job and is a friendship I will have for the rest of my life. In truth, Newhouse as well as Syracuse Athletics helped guide me to what my true-life passion was. 

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspects of your field you may have not considered when applying? 

Through Newhouse, I was introduced to the ACC Network and Syracuse Athletics. At first, my objective was to just get in the door and work live sporting events. Scott Hecht, the then director of ACC Network, appreciated my enthusiasm and asked if I wanted to be an engineer intern. I had no clue what engineers do, but to me, it was an opportunity, so I jumped at it. That one leap of faith was what led me to where I am now. 

The greatest thing that happened to me while at Syracuse was working for Tom White, the chief engineer for Syracuse athletics. Up until I met Tom, I had never known what an engineer does. Tom took every chance he had to teach me something new. As an engineer, your main task is knowing every single piece of equipment, wire and cable that goes into a specific broadcast. You are the line of defense if something falls apart and all eyes look to you to fix said problem, so you are always learning something new. With Tom, we dealt with lots of issues, and I began to realize this is the career path I wanted to pursue. Very few people want to become broadcast engineers, so this helps the field as there are usually job openings for these positions. I saw this as not only an exciting growth opportunity, but one that I could make a full career out of.

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it? 

One of the key features of my program was that I was brought on as an instructional associate. As someone who aspires to be a college professor one day, I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to get some teaching practice. I worked with first year and sophomore production courses and loved every minute of it. 

The television, radio and film program is arguably the most unique program at Syracuse. It is an amazing program in that the objective of both the professors and the curriculum is to allow the student to grow their mind as well as tap into their creative potential. The program’s objective is to help you find your creative voice and run with it. Aside from that, this program also uniquely combines all facets of the film and entertainment industry into the coursework, including screenwriting, pitching films, business models of the film industry, production and law practices that all networks/film houses follow, giving a well-rounded knowledge of the entertainment world. 

Lastly, if you join the program and you feel you may not be bonding with the film material as much, Michael Schoonmaker, the television, radio and film department chair, is more than willing to help find you electives that are in the other programs of Newhouse. I had several graduate friends take courses outside the normal TRF curriculum and they couldn’t have been happier.

Did the Newhouse Career Development Center aid you?  

The Newhouse Career Development Center did help me, both with my resume as well as job leads. Bridget Lichtinger was crucial to my success at Syracuse and my resume looked a lot better once we went over it a couple of times. She is a true asset to the school. 

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field?

A lot of young students that get into the broadcast engineering field may think they just set up the equipment and then leave it for the people to operate. Unfortunately, this is anything but true. As an engineer, your job is to know where everything goes for a broadcast. And when I mean everything, I mean EVERYTHING.  

I’ll use an example: Say you are using a Sony camera. As an operator you just need to know which buttons on the camera do what, how to shoot and what to shoot. As an engineer, you need to know button functions, where do the wires that are connected to the camera go, what signal goes to those said wires, what is the lens type of the camera, what unit powers the camera and what signal sends to the operator so they can see what they are shooting. When you think about this, most people’s minds explode and you’re not expected to know all this right out of the gate- but when you work many years in the field, you are expected to eventually know all the information pertaining to those systems spoken about. 

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far? 

There have been many, so I’ll name a couple:

The engineer job with CNBC and NBCUniversal: This is a position most people don’t get until they are in their 30s due to the level of knowledge required. By a stroke of luck, I was brought on with an expectation they would train me on equipment for the long term, so I am always appreciative that I got such a unique and amazing opportunity. 

Phillies corporate event: This was the first major corporate event I had worked for the Phillies and due to a callout, I was left to man the event by myself. I set up everything, operated all consoles and broke down everything afterward. It was a big moment for me as it increased my confidence that I could do these events by myself.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students?

One of the greatest assets of Newhouse is the main control room for Syracuse Athletics and ACC Network out of Syracuse. Go inside, look around and talk to the people that run operations there- they are always looking for dedicated students that can work events and want to learn. Whether you are someone that wants to be an on-air talent, producer, replay operator, or even engineer, they always have spots available for people to get involved. 

Even if you don’t enjoy it as much as I did, I promise you the most successful producers and on-air talents are the ones that know about the technical aspects of a TV broadcast. It can only help you in the long run. 

The classes I recommend are any production classes with Olivia Stomski and I also recommend any courses with Kelly Leahy, Robert Thompson and Shaina Holmes. Three of the best professors I had while at Syracuse.

Newhouse LA Student Spotlight: Taylor Chaiken

Taylor Chaiken

This semester, I am working as a wardrobe assistant to a celebrity stylist, as well as a fashion PR intern at CLD PR. This has been such a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I could not be more grateful for. Adjusting to the LA culture has been extremely easy for me and beyond exciting. I have been given the opportunity to follow my dreams of furthering myself and expanding my career in the fashion industry, and am lucky enough to be in such a great position for life after graduation. It is definitely not easy balancing two internships, all while taking 12 credits, but the staff and opportunities are so phenomenal that I wake up excited every day. I highly recommend every Syracuse student to take advantage of this opportunity and all of the experiences that come with it.

Taylor Chaiken is a senior majoring in communication and rhetorical studies at the School of Visual and Performing Arts and minoring in public communications at the Newhouse School.

Student Spotlight: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sophia Simons

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (MC2) Sophia Simons is a student in the Newhouse School’s advanced military visual journalism program and an active-duty service member in the United States Navy. Simons, who is studying advanced photojournalism, joined the 10-month program to learn the civilian side of photojournalism and receive an education from some of the top experts in the industry. During her time at Newhouse, she’s completing coursework in not just photography, but sound, communications, multimedia storytelling, writing and design.

Why did you want to be a part of the advanced military visual journalism program at Newhouse?

MC2 Sophia Simons plays with children while documenting a women’s shelter in Cartagena, Colombia in November 2022. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Simons)

For me personally, I wanted to join the program so I could learn the civilian side of photojournalism, receive education from some of the top minds in our field and to gain experience and knowledge from my peers across the different branches. To be frank, I was simply looking for the opportunity to learn and grow in my field.

What have you been surprised to learn while in the program?

I was surprised to find how similar the world of photography is to that of the Navy. While you can be an amazing photographer, the connections you make are arguably more important to telling people’s stories. In the military, making connections is akin to currency and the ability to forge strong connections can give you greater access to telling people’s stories.

Why is visual journalism important to you?

Visual journalism is important to me because I believe each person’s story deserves to be told. We are all held subject to death one day and frankly it’s the stories we tell of each other that transcend death. Adding a visual aspect to the telling of the story allows the viewer to create a stronger emotional tie, to connect on a deeper level and truly see the story.  

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd class Sophia Simons (far right) poses for a photo with three individuals from the Honduran army while visiting a Red Cross in San Pedro Sula, Honduras in November 2022. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Simons)

You get to complete a lot of photography projects in the MVJ program. What are some of your favorite subjects to photograph?

In the military, we do not have a lot of access to studio photography on a regular basis so many of my favorite subjects to photograph have been people in a controlled environment. But I find that uncontrolled action and emotion shots are still my favorite, as I think they speak more deeply to a person’s story.

One of the most prominent buildings on Syracuse University’s campus, Crouse College, was built in 1888. (Photo by MC2 Sophia Simons)

Once you’ve returned to your military position after the program, how do you envision using the skills you’ve gained at Newhouse? 

When I return to the military, I intend to teach my junior Sailors what I have learned here so that we can improve our craft across the fleet. I also wish to use the skills to one day join the Blue Angels.

What do you hope to do in the future?

When it comes to my future, my main goal it to be able to help people, wherever that may be and in whatever capacity. I wish to make it to a Chief in the Navy and I am striving to create a better future for those that come after me.