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Margaret Brennan, moderator of “Face the Nation” and senior foreign affairs correspondent at CBS News, challenged the newest graduates of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to grow the public’s trust of the news media.
Brennan, who currently is the only woman serving as a solo anchor of a major Sunday political affairs show, was the keynote convocation speaker at Comerica Theatre in downtown Phoenix, where 339 students received degrees with 2,700 guests in attendance.
Citing a Quinnipiac poll in which a majority of Republicans described the news media as the enemy of the people and not an important part of democracy, Brennan encouraged graduates to earn their trust and respect.
“We need you,” she said. “We need all of you to be the great journalists and communicators that you have been training to be. We need all of you to be (Walter) Cronkites.”
In her speech, Brennan provided a range of lessons to help the graduates in their careers, including being tough, but fair in news coverage. Her speech also touched on the news today involving President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.
“Today the president dealt a potentially fatal blow that landmark arms control deal,” she said. “He did that by announcing that he’ll sanction Iran which -- under the deal -- was only supposed to happen as punishment if that country cheated. Today, the White House provided no new evidence to suggest Iran was cheating.”
The Cronkite School graduated 318 bachelor’s degree students, with 192 earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication and 49 earning a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Journalism. Seventy-seven students received a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies.
The Cronkite School also graduated 18 master’s degree students. Ashley Gimbal, Madeleine Liseblad and Kristy Roschke received doctoral degrees.
Student speaker Isabel Greenblatt discussed the evolving media landscape and how the Cronkite School prepares students for a variety of jobs ranging from broadcast journalism to public relations and beyond.
Greenblatt, who said she initially wanted to be a television news producer and later pivoted to social media strategy, encouraged her fellow graduates to challenge the status quo. “We are the future of media,” she said. “It’s up to us to change the culture.”
Nearly a half of the graduating class earned high academic honors. Forty-eight students graduated summa cum laude with grade-point averages of at least 3.8; another 43 graduated magna cum laude with GPAs of 3.6 to 3.79; and 56 graduated cum laude with GPAs of 3.4 to 3.59.
In addition, 26 students were inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, a national college honors society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism. The top 10 percent of the graduating class is inducted into the society each semester.
Six students received the ASU Alumni Association’s Moeur Award, which is presented to graduates with the highest academic standing who have completed their course work toward their degree while attending ASU for eight consecutive fall and spring semesters.
STUDENT AWARD WINNERS
Outstanding Graduate Student
ASU Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate
Nicole Gutierrez Montes
Outstanding Undergraduate Students
Highest Grade Point Average in Journalism
Highest Grade Point Average in Media Studies
Top Innovator Award
Cronkite Spirit Award
Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society
Adriana De Alba