What’s it Like to Speak to Your Entire Graduating Class?

The Newhouse School’s 2024 Convocation speakers reflect on the excitement and responsibility of the moment.

Jared Dowling ’24

Public Relations

When I received the message announcing that I had been chosen to give the undergraduate student address for the Newhouse Convocation, I nearly dropped my phone out of sheer excitement. Graduation speeches are normal, but the Class of 2024 is so unique in the fact that many of us never experienced a high school graduation because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just four years ago I was senior class president, forced to give my graduation speech to an empty football stadium for a virtual ceremony, so the opportunity to unite my peers with a celebratory message was not something I took for granted. 

a person in a graduation gown stands outside and smiles
Jared Dowling

As I researched and viewed previous convocation speakers’ speeches, I knew that I wanted to leave my classmates with a relatable and motivational message that would empower them as they reflected on their journey through Newhouse and Syracuse University.  This central idea is how I eventually developed “The Power of a Melting Pot” – to illustrate how the Syracuse University community allowed each and every one of us to embrace all of the parts of our personal identities and how maintaining that community as we enter our adult lives is paramount to future success. 

On the actual day of graduation, I was filled with nervous anticipation as all of the soon-to-be graduates made their way toward the JMA Wireless Dome. I meticulously double and triple-checked all of the parts of my regalia to make sure that everything would be perfect while sitting on stage. But as Dean Lodato introduced me to speak, all of my nerves went away as I looked through the crowd and saw so many familiar faces – friends I’d shared countless memories with, faculty members who’ve provided priceless guidance and even my family sitting front-row cheering me on.

three people in graduation gowns stand and smile
L-R: Dowling stands with fellow Newhouse graduates Nicole Aponte and Annie Levin (Photo Genaro C. Armas)

The most surprising thing to come from my speech, however, was the number of people who genuinely loved it and resonated with the personal messages I shared. Over the next couple of days on campus, there was an outpouring of love and appreciation as people not only congratulated me on a job well done but took time to be vulnerable themselves and shared how my message had caused them to truly reflect on the people and place Newhouse and Syracuse had become in their lives. 

As a proud graduate of the Newhouse School, I will be working as a senior communications specialist at ADP (Automatic Data Processing) in Roseland, New Jersey, on their public relations and marketing team to forward their mission of amplifying the ADP brand. I look forward to leveraging all of the experiences gained during my time at Newhouse to be a fearless communicator in the workforce!

Gloria Rivera G’24

Goldring Arts Journalism and Communications

When I first received an email asking if I’d like to be considered to speak at the Newhouse convocation, I was flooded with so much angst and excitement. I often forget to push myself to be bold and do things that bring me out of my comfort zone. However, I saw this as an opportunity to share my story and talk a bit about my journey to Newhouse.  

a person in a graduation cap and gown holds their diploma
Gloria Rivera

I fully believe that as people, we’re not singular. I’m not just a first-generation Latina student, I am not just a New Yorker, I am a complex blend of the generations before me. Their hard work, challenges and dedication has paved the way for me to land where I am today. 

I was honored to stand in front of my peers and share that story. We have been reminded multiple times that the state of journalism today is challenging and complex. We are reminded that entering this world is an immense feat. And yet, I have watched my peers approach these challenges with such grit. Which is why I have no doubt that we’ll be more than okay. However, I wanted to be sure to include a reminder that while we’re entering this world, we have a duty to think about more than just us. We have a duty to grow, rehabilitate these relationships and be better for the generations to come. 

a person in a graduation cap and gown speaks at a podium
Gloria Rivera gives the graduate student address. (Syracuse University photo/Angela Ryan)

“As journalists and communicators, our stories are told – and our integrity is all we have. Not everything we do will change the world, but we have to make sure we’re enacting the change that we want to see in the world. Who we are today is what determines the future generation’s tomorrow, whether we get to see it or not.  

As you enter a world still riddled with inaccuracies, hypocrisy and a lack of representation, remember that you get to choose to be better. You get to determine your legacy and how you tell the stories that deserve to be told.” 

I’m still immensely humbled by this opportunity and hope that my story is an ounce of insight into how large the realm of possibilities really is. Congratulations to the Class of 2024, it’s an honor to join this industry with you all as my peers. 

2024 Newhouse Student Awards Roundup

It’s student award season! Here are the Newhouse students who have been recognized so far this spring semester for their outstanding work. Check back for updates.

Hearst

The final round of the Hearst Journalism Awards monthly competitions netted three Top 20 finishes for Newhouse students in the Investigative Writing and Team Multimedia contests. 

Society of News Design

Newhouse students and campus media outlets took home 11 awards including three top prizes in this year’s Society for News Design’s Student Design Contest.

Best-Designed Student Magazine

Best-Designed Student News Website

Special Section Design

Standalone Multimedia

Digital Storytelling Design

Magazine Cover Design

Art & Illustration Design

2024 SND Student Design Contest 

Syracuse Press Club Awards

Newhouse School students and members of the WAER staff were recognized with 20 honors including eight First Place awards in this year’s Syracuse Press Club Awards.

Newhouse Students and Staff Shine at 2024 Syracuse Press Club Awards

Society of Professional Journalists

Newhouse students had a great showing at the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Mark of Excellence Awards with 10 winners and 17 finalists. The winners will advance to compete against other SPJ regional winners for the national Mark of Excellence Awards announced this summer.

Newhouse Students Win 10 SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards

Syracuse University Scholars

Nicole Aponte and Yasmin Nayrouz were among the 12 seniors named as 2024 Syracuse University Scholars, the highest undergraduate honor the University bestows. 

2024 Syracuse University Scholars Announced

Hearst

Newhouse School senior Chilekasi Adele took top prize this spring in the Television News competition at the prestigious Hearst Journalism Awards. Adele was among several Newhouse students honored by the Hearst Journalism Awards as the competition announced winners over the past few months.

Newhouse Student Wins First Place at Prestigious Hearst Journalism Awards 

White House Correspondent Association Scholarship

Magazine, news and digital journalism sophomore Danielle Blyn is one of 30 students from 16 colleges and universities around the country to be selected for the White House Correspondent Association Scholarship.

2024 Scholarship Winners Announced

Berlin Indie Film Festival

Alexandra Siambekos ’23 won the Best First Time Director, Documentary award 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. 

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

The White House News Photographers Association

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. 

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

Broadcast Education Association

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. 

Newhouse Students Win 25 Awards at BEA Festival of Media Arts

Graphic Design USA

Seven Newhouse School students each won an American Graphic Design Award for their design projects at the 60th annual Graphic Design USA (GDUSA) showcase. It was a remarkable showing in a competition with over 8,000 entries.

Newhouse Students Win 7 GDUSA American Graphic Design Awards

Graphis

Newhouse graphic design majors and multimedia, photography and design graduate students won 22 awards across several categories in this year’s design competition.

Silver

Stamps
Alex Ryberg Gonzalez 
Nicole Beaudet 
Samantha Swiss 
Hailey Lawless 

Type Design
Darren Cordoviz 
Quinn Carletta 

Honorable Mentions

Poster
Ally Manziano 
Elliot Rosenberg-Rappin 
Charlotte Little 

Illustration
Ally Manziano 

Product Design
Olivia Doe

Stamps
Charlotte Little 
Ally Manziano 
Amelia Flinchbaugh 
Lior Edrich 
Elizabeth Vogt 

Type Design
Ita Kim 
Ethan Rujak 
Dean Lourenco 
Cayla Israel 
Zhengrong Chai 
Jonathan Wideman 

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication

Newhouse students and faculty earned five Gold honors and swept the video/film and advertising categories in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) 2023-2024 VIMFest Contest. The work will be featured at the AEJMC national conference in Philadelphia in August.

Large School (10,000+ )​ Schoolwide/Multi-class Media Project, Gold – Infodemic by The Infodemic Staff
Student – Video/Film, Gold – Murphy McFarlane​, “Full Circle

Student – Advertising, Gold – Brooke Hirsch​ and Charlotte Shea, “Digital Blackout”

Student – Interactive and Motion Design, Gold – Emily Baird, “Metanoia
Faculty – Advertising, Gold – Milton Santiago and Jason Lozada, “Infodemic Launch Spot

This post was originally published on April 29, 2024.


Bella Tabak is Fashionably Flying Through Newhouse

In her seemingly rare moments of spare time as a Newhouse School student and co-editor of University Girl magazine, Bella Tabak can be found being launched through the air during athletic events at the JMA Wireless Dome as a member of the Syracuse University Cheer Team. 

a person poses in a cheerleading uniform
Tabak

Tabak was so busy one day this past semester that she even showed up at Newhouse in her cheer gear before sprinting to the Dome to assume her lofty role as Cheer Team flyer. She was determined not to miss class.  

“I try and balance it, but sometimes I have to [prioritize] one over the other,” said Tabak, who will be a junior in the fall. “But if I could be in two places at once, I definitely would be.” 

Like many of her many Newhouse classmates, Tabak balances academics, extracurriculars and personal interests in filling her schedule. Those three areas intersect with her work at University Girl, fulfilling a passion for writing and desire to bring sustainable fashion practices to the forefront. 

A magazine, news and digital journalism (MND) major, Tabak began her journey with University Girl the summer before starting college at Syracuse. When trying out for the Syracuse Cheer Team in her senior year of high school, the eastern Connecticut native heard from a friend on the team who also worked at University Girl. She recommended Tabak for the staff, too.  

cheerleaders pose in a formation on an athletic field
Tabak (middle, top row) cheers on the Orange as a member of the Syracuse University Cheer Team.

“I ended up following [University Girl] and they posted something about how they were taking summer interns. I said, ‘Well, I’m not on campus yet, but I’ll just see. The worst that they could say was no,’” Tabak explained. “Then I ended up interning for them over the summer.” 

Less than two years later, she’s the co-editor-in-chief alongside MND senior Ellie Batten, who graduated this May. They make editorial decisions and provide direction to writers, editors, designers and photographers.  

Tabak’s favorite part of the job is writing and giving feedback to other writers.  

“Being able to make sure that my vision for my own piece is achieved – because I’m the one running the show – is very, very nice,” she said. “So much goes into [the magazine] and to be able to help guide all of the other, amazing talented women into creating something like the print magazine is super exciting.”  

Tabak was undeclared in the College of Arts and Sciences for her first year. Though she always loved writing in middle school and high school, she said she “never thought that it would be a profitable career for me, so I never really looked into it until I got to college.”  

a person in a black dress stands holding a magazine
Tabak at the launch party for the spring 2024 edition of University Girl magazine.

After spending her first year at Syracuse writing for University Girl, Tabak decided to pursue a career in fashion and pop culture journalism.  

“That’s when I was like, ‘I need to switch to Newhouse,’” she said, transferring into the school before the start of sophomore year in fall 2023.  

Within Newhouse, Tabak also joined the Fashion and Beauty Communications Milestone, a partnership between Newhouse and the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). The program gives her priority access to Newhouse and VPA classes about the fashion and beauty industry. 

Using those resources, Tabak hopes to pursue a career in sustainable fashion journalism. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she researched fast fashion, which is cheap, trendy clothing that’s mass produced and quickly shipped to retail stores, leaving massive amounts of waste and pollution in its wake. 

“I found out about how horrible it is for the environment… so I started researching how I can stay away from this. I got super into thrifting,” she said.  

a person poses for a headshot
“Being able to make sure that my vision for my own piece is achieved – because I’m the one running the show – is very, very nice,” Tabak said.

Tabak took a course last semester about sustainable fashion. She said the course gave her the opportunity to combine her new knowledge of sustainable fashion with her passion for journalism. In the spring 2024 print edition of University Girl, which dropped May 3, Tabak wrote an article all about sustainability in fashion and reducing overconsumption, called “A Beginner’s Guide to Slow Fashion.”  

With the magazine finally out, Tabak jumps right into running the University Girl summer internship, which two years ago opened the magazine’s door for her. But she’s also reflecting on the work she’s done.

“Since the semester is over and I’ve looked back on all the stuff that I’ve accomplished with University Girl just this semester, I do feel really proud of myself because it takes so much.” 

Samantha Rodino is a sophomore in the television, radio and film program at the Newhouse School.

To Live and Learn in LA: The Newhouse LA Experience

If I had to sum up my experience in Los Angeles during the Syracuse University Dick Clark Los Angeles Program—which houses the Newhouse LA program—with one phrase, it would be “more than worth the price of admission.”

As someone who was born and raised on the East Coast, I always wondered what it would be like to live in Los Angeles. Before committing to Syracuse University, I was even interested in attending schools like the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles. The Newhouse LA program allowed me to spend a semester in a city I might never have had the chance to live in otherwise, and now, I have roots here that will extend far beyond my time here this semester.

a person gets mic'd up in a television studio
Joseph gets a microphone attached to his shirt before a practice take at the CBS Station in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Dhani Joseph)

From the moment I arrived at the Los Angeles International Airport, I felt as if I was in a totally different world than Syracuse—and that was OK. There is no doubt that there was a transition period. From the time difference to the lowest temperature being in the mid 50s in January (although no complaints there), I knew immediately that I wasn’t in Upstate New York.

Instead of living in a South Campus apartment, I was treated to a beautifully modern apartment in Burbank with amenities like pools and a gym, among other things. And although certain buildings on the Syracuse campus —like Newhouse—are stunning in their own right, the Los Angeles program campus is brand new and has a premium feel to it. Syracuse University does an excellent job of providing everything a student needs to feel as comfortable as they would feel on campus and it’s very much appreciated.

a person stands in front of a ferris wheel at the Santa Monica pier.
At the world famous Santa Monica Pier. (Photo courtesy of Dhani Joseph)
two people stand on a beach
Joseph and his friend Danie at Venice Beach. (Photo courtesy of Dhani Joseph)

Of course, it would only be a vacation if it weren’t for the classes. I took seven classes this semester, which is definitely more than most students. But if I had to choose the most memorable courses, it would be the sports production and acting classes.

As somebody who is interested in going into the sports media field, the sports production class—part of the Newhouse LA sports media communications program—was right up my alley. Taught by Jeff Proctor, a former producer at CBS and Fox Sports, the class was all about what goes into producing a sports broadcast.

Arguably, the best part of the class was the field trips, including outings to see the Los Angeles Lakers, the G-League’s South Bay Lakers and the Los Angeles Lakers. We got a behind-the-scenes look at the production truck and the work it took to produce live sporting events.

a person gives a sports broadcast standing on a basketball court
Joseph does a live pregame hit at a South Bay Lakers game, which he attended through his sports production class. (Photo courtesy of Dhani Joseph)

In some cases, we even got to do a pregame report from the field of play that was fully produced by the same professionals that produced the game. For those interested in sports television and broadcasting, that class alone is worth the trip to Southern California.

The acting was taught by former actress Barbara Deustch. Prior to this semester, I had never taken an acting class, nor did I have any interest in doing so. However, I’m so happy that I did. Barbara started us off with improv exercises and by the end of the semester I was performing a scene from the 1992 film “A Few Good Men” in front of a large audience. I always thought acting was an innate skill, but this class taught me that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Outside of classes, I interned with Fox Sports as a features intern over the semester. Getting to work in one of the major sports channels was really cool and I got to meet producers as well as talent for studio shows such as “Speak” with Emannuel Acho, Joy Taylor and others.

When I wasn’t working on classwork and internship responsibilities, there were tons of things to do in Los Angeles. The program offered many events for us such as movie premieres, outings to a Los Angeles Dodgers game and more. We also did some community service by doing a beach clean-up at Santa Monica beach.

Without a doubt, this has been the best semester of my college career, and I am so glad I took a leap of faith to travel across the country for this program.

Dhani Joseph will be a senior in the fall in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.

Photo Gallery: 2024 Newhouse Convocation Ceremony

The Newhouse School celebrated the Class of 2024 at the Convocation Ceremony on Saturday at the JMA Wireless Dome. Take a look back at the special afternoon. Congratulations to our graduates!

A woman is shown speaking on a video screen above a stage during a convocation ceremony
Weijia Jiang G’06, senior White House correspondent for CBS News, delivers the keynote address at the 2024 Newhouse Convocation Ceremony. (Syracuse University photo/Angela Ryan)


Samantha Parrish (light blue stole) and fellow seniors Corey Chun and María Nido sing the national anthem as the stage party watches. (Syracuse University photo/Angela Ryan)



A woman dressed in a graduation cap and gown speaks at a podium during a convocation ceremony
Jiang returned to Syracuse to deliver the featured address at convocation after graduating in 2006 with a master’s in broadcast journalism. (Syracuse University photo/Angela Ryan)

A man dressed in a ceremonial cap and gown shakes hands with graduating students
Dean Mark J. Lodato greets Class of 2024 graduates on stage before they pick up their diplomas.
(Syracuse University photo/Angela Ryan)

A woman in a graduation cap and gown smiles while holding up her diploma
A Newhouse student smiles as she holds up her diploma. (Syracuse University photo/Angela Ryan)

Newhouse Students and Staff Shine at 2024 Syracuse Press Club Awards

Newhouse School students and members of the WAER staff were recognized with 20 honors including eight First Place awards in this year’s Syracuse Press Club Awards.

STUDENT DIVISION

Print/Digital News Story

Print Digital Features Story

Print Digital Sports Story

Television/Video News Story

Television/Video Feature Story

Television/Video Sports Story

Radio/Podcast Story 

PROFESSIONAL DIVISION

Radio/Podcast – Spot News

Radio/Podcast – Sports 

Radio/Podcast – News Feature or Series

Photography – Feature Photo

Living and Learning in the City

Students experience immersive learning opportunities in the heart of New York City.

Syracuse University students prepare to thrive in a changing global society by gaining hands-on learning experiences around the world. In addition to a range of study abroad options through the University’s highly ranked study abroad program, students can also take courses and do internships at locations around the United States.

This includes opportunities to live, learn and work for a full semester in the vibrant hub of arts and culture, innovation and enterprise: New York City. Students enrolled in a semester program in NYC take courses at the University’s academic space in midtown Manhattan, learn from working professionals in their fields, make connections with supportive alumni networks and gain practical experience in one of the world’s most diverse and dynamic cities.

Gain Professional Experience in Journalism and Media

a person stands in front of Madison Square Garden in New York City
Ava Vulopas ’24 interned at Madison Square Garden and honed her professional skills via Newhouse NYC. “It was a whole semester of learning how to position ourselves so that we’re in the best possible spot when we graduate,” says Vulopas.

During the Newhouse NYC semester, students from S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication work prestigious internships and take courses that include tours of media companies and learning sessions with working professionals. Students build professional skills, gain meaningful work experiences, and make connections that prepare them for a successful transition into the media industry after graduation.

“The professors are all super well-established and well-known in the industry,” says Ava Vulopas ’24, who dual majors in advertising in Newhouse and entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises in the Whitman School of Management. “I learned so much from hearing my professors’ perspectives and feel so much more confident now about what I’m going to do after graduation. I feel I am qualified, and I have connections in the industry that I can reach out to.”

For Vulopas, it was particularly meaningful to connect with alumni of the program. “They talked about when they were in our shoes, how they navigated their semester in NYC and their job application process. Seeing where they are now, just five years later, it was really cool to realize that I can follow their lead and do this too!”

Whitman School Shows Its Commitment to Entrepreneurship by Hiring Student-Run POV Digital Marketing Agency

If you’ve noticed some additional content on the Whitman School of Management’s social media platforms lately, it’s likely the work of POV Brand Management, a student-run digital marketing agency working with the school’s marketing and communications department this semester.

From left are the following: Whitney Krayer, Phoebe Gullingsrud and Fiona Connolly.

“Fostering emerging entrepreneurs and supporting their ideas are at the heart of the Whitman School. And, what better way to promote our commitment to entrepreneurship than to hire some of our own?” says Executive Dean J. Michael Haynie, who also is vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation for the University and a faculty member in Whitman’s Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises (EEE). “We identified a need in our efforts to market to Gen Z and filled that need this semester by hiring POV, a digital marketing agency founded by a Whitman/Newhouse student and run by other students across the University. It’s been a terrific partnership that has benefitted both Whitman and POV.”

POV was created by Phoebe Gullingsrud ’24, the firm’s CEO. Her entrepreneurial talents date back to high school, but once she started her first year as a dual major in the Whitman School and the Newhouse School of Public Communications, her brain was racing with ideas on how her courses in business and communications could help her establish a real business. At the time, the pandemic was in full force, but Gullingsrud understood that companies were struggling, and there was an urgent need to adapt to online business. Knowing she couldn’t do it all herself, she brought on others with diverse skillsets, and by Gullingsrud’s sophomore year POV Marketing Consultancy was launched.

Gullingsrud continued to run POV, even while studying abroad in Barcelona in spring 2023. Upon her return, she thought about getting an internship but quickly realized what she really should be doing was building out her own company.

2024 Newhouse Student Awards

Each spring, the Newhouse School recognizes those students whose dedication, ingenuity, academic excellence and creativity exhibit extraordinary talent and effort. We congratulate our 2024 award winners!

Undergraduate Awards

Advertising Awards

Deborah Fink Green Award

Harry D. Meyers Memorial Prize in Advertising

Most Promising Advertising Student

Newhouse Advertising Department Award for Academic Excellence

John Philip-Jones Advertising Student of the Year Award

Bandier Program Awards

Bandier Leadership Award

Bandier Innovator/Operator Award

Broadcast and Digital Journalism Awards

Don Edwards Broadcast Journalism Award

The Radio-TV-News Power Producer Award

Magazine, News and Digital Journalism Awards

Heather L. Fleishman Memorial Scholarship

Henry J. Leader Memorial Prize in Editing

Henry J. Wolff Prize

Lauretta H. McCaffrey Journalism Prize

Maria Riccardi Scholarship

Newhouse Award for Journalism Excellence

The Samuel V. Kennedy III Award for Newspaper Editing

William Glavin Award for Excellence in Magazine Writing

The John Mitchell Award for Sports Reporting

All Journalism Awards

Bob Heisler Award for Excellence

Photography and Graphic Design Awards

Bertram J. Davis Scholar Award

Dr. Frank Meola Photography Prize

Society for News Design/Marshall Matlock Designer of the Year

The Visual Communications Department Prize in Design

The Visual Communications Department Prize in Immersive Media

The Visual Communications Department Prize in Motion Graphics

The Visual Communications Department Prize Video Production

Public Relations Awards

Julie Mendez Diversity and Inclusion Award in Public Relations

The Public Relations Department Chair Award for Leadership

The Public Relations Public Service Award

The William P. Ehling Award

Television, Radio and Film Awards

Edward L. Hersh Award

Glenn Steinfast Award for Excellence in Documentary Film Production

Gordon J. Alderman Memorial Prize

Irene M. Sholkin Prize in Script Writing

Oscar Micheaux Filmmaking Award

Stan Alten Excellence in Audio Award

The Zach Trifone Love of Life and Music Award

Armando Doreste Award

All Undergraduate Majors

Dean’s Service Award

The Beth Mowins ’90 Award in Sports Media

Excellence in Web Development and Coding Award

Newhouse First-Year Achievement Award

George Plavocos Radio Achievement Award

David Rubin 1st Amendment Prize

Class Marshals

Newhouse Scholars

Graduate Awards

Graduate School Master’s Prize

A. William Bluem Award

Catherine L. Covert Research Award

Charnice Milton Award for Community Journalism

Public Relations Certificate of Achievement

The Magazine, News and Digital Journalism Graduate Achievement Award

The William Doescher Outstanding Public Relations Master’s Degree Student

Forever Orange: Aaron Partnow ’23

While completing a bachelor’s degree in political science and geography at Syracuse University, Aaron Partnow developed an interest in documentary film. During his senior year, Partnow learned of the Forever Orange Scholarship, which provides half of 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 all Class of 2024 graduating Syracuse University seniors who are eligible for admission—no separate scholarship application is needed. Graduating seniors who have already been admitted to a qualifying graduate program are also eligible.

Partnow saw the scholarship as an opportunity to obtain a master’s degree in television, radio and film at the Newhouse School, where he would get to work with and learn from the school’s experienced and knowledgeable faculty like Richard Breyer,  a professor and documentary filmmaker.

Aaron Partnow

Undergraduate Program: Political Science and Geography, 2023
Newhouse Master’s Program: Television, Radio and Film, 2024

Aaron Partnow headshot

What drew you to Syracuse University for your undergraduate studies? 

My mom grew up about an hour north of Syracuse in Watertown, and so she always rooted for the Orange. When I was looking for schools, I wanted a place that had a strong sporting environment and good academics, something that was really lacking in Alaska. Syracuse seemed like a place where I could be equally passionate about my academics and rooting for the sports teams. The more time I spend here and learn about it, the more I realize it is truly an “everything” school. There is a way to find passion and purpose, even if you never step foot in the Dome. 

What made you want to pursue a master’s degree?    

I had an unusual undergrad experience. My first semester was dictated by a racial reckoning on campus during the #NotAgainSU movement and later by COVID-19, which made the college experience I wanted impossible. I ended up spending a full semester at home managing a political campaign in my sophomore year, and a semester abroad in London my junior year. I then graduated a semester early as I had enough credits. Had the pandemic not happened, I think it may have been easier to take on a minor or double major at Newhouse, something I always wanted to do. For most of undergrad, my goal was just to focus on political science and getting those requirements done. Now that I’m in the television, radio and film graduate program, I see this as an opportunity to gain new skills and focus more narrowly on documentaries than I ever have, even if I do not go into the entertainment industry in the future. 

How did you first hear about the Forever Orange Scholarship and how did it play a role in your decision to attend graduate school?  

I hadn’t heard of it until late in the fall of my senior year. I was certain I was going to be moving on from school, but I thought it might be good to give myself a one-year buffer before going into the “real world.” It also allowed me to stay close with some of my friends on campus who were younger than me and still enrolled as undergraduates. Towards the end of undergrad, I found myself trending more towards the creative side of political discourse, i.e. documentaries, and I eventually learned that SU was a great place for that as well. It would allow me the flexibility to gain new skills while also avoiding the traditional path of law school or consulting, neither of which seemed as meaningful to me. 

The Forever Orange scholarship made a big difference. Especially as someone with a significant amount of student debt, I didn’t want to further burden my mom who had paid for my undergrad as much as possible. The scholarship made it more accessible to obtain a new degree without taking on additional debt, something I am very proud of. 

What unique features of your graduate program made you want to apply?  

I had always heard about Newhouse’s broadcast and digital journalism program but less so about television, radio and film. As I was doing research, I discovered there was a decent amount of faculty also interested in documentaries. In fact, there used to be a documentary, film and history program, an ideal career path for me. While the program no longer exists, I figured the remnants were still intact and it would be a great opportunity to learn more from seasoned professors I had wanted to work with in undergrad, including Professor Breyer. Because of this program, I was able to take Documentary Production with him, the highlight of my first semester. 

It also made a huge difference that this was only a one-year program. It made it easier to sell to myself that this was not a long commitment but more of a pit stop on my journey towards doing something impactful. 

What moments in graduate school have been the most exciting or defining thus far?  

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed being a TA for COM 107. It was really exciting to get to know the students who are the future leaders in communications. I also appreciated the opportunity to develop a solid working relationship with Professor Faren Karimkhan and better understand that teaching is much more than what happens in the classroom alone. I think education is a great form of public service and the unique opportunity to TA as a grad student made me believe that even more so. 

What advice would you give to students that are in the initial stages of deciding to pursue graduate school? 

Come in with a plan. I think the students who find a one-year program most valuable are those who have an idea that they want to fully flesh out and a plan to use Newhouse resources to get there. In my case, I am learning that to make a documentary in a short period of time, you need to do a lot of research and find story inspiration outside of class time. If you just wing it, you are less likely to come away with something you are proud of, and which makes the grad school investment worthwhile. Overall, having a concrete end goal-and writing it out explicitly when applying-is a great way to determine if grad school or any program at Newhouse is right for you. 

For more information on Newhouse School graduate programs, please email nhmasters@syr.edu