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American Public Media Chief Urges Cronkite Grads to Make an Impact

December 18, 2011

The president and CEO of American Public Media encouraged the newest graduates of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to make a conscious effort to have an impact on society as they embark on their journalism careers.

“Journalism is a wonderful opportunity and an awesome obligation,” Jon McTaggart told the 102 Cronkite graduates and nearly 1,100 guests at Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University. “I hold journalists accountable for telling the whole story, and doing so with integrity.”

McTaggart told the graduates that journalists are needed now more than ever to help people understand an increasingly complex world.

“You have the power—and because of that, the imperative—to help America find solutions,” McTaggart said. “And that important work begins by making sure we hear the whole story.”

Student speaker Leigh Anne Zinsmeister, a graduate of Allen High School in Allen, Texas, noted that she and her fellow graduates are entering a profession that is facing a great deal of change and uncertainty right now, but that hasn’t deterred them from pursuing their dreams.

“We are the brave few who went ahead and followed our passion anyway, and we are the few who are going to make this transition in the media world exciting instead of scary,” she said.

In the fall class of graduates, 11 students achieved summa cum laude status (with a grade point average of at least 3.8); another 10 graduated magna cum laude (3.6 to 3.79 GPA); and 17 graduated with cum laude honors (3.4 to 3.59 GPA). Two students were recognized with Moeur Awards for obtaining a grade point average of 4.0 in eight or fewer consecutive semesters.

In addition, 11 students were inducted into the Kappa Tau Alpha society, a national college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism. Only the top 10 percent of the graduating class is inducted into the society each semester.

Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan praised the graduates for their accomplishments and their commitment to journalism.

“You are smart, you are passionate, you are dedicated and you possess an energy and spirit that inspires others,” he said. “It has been a privilege to have you as Cronkite School students, and it will be an honor to call you Cronkite School alumni.


Outstanding Undergraduate Students
• Jordan Johnson
• Siera Lambrecht
• Cassidy Olson

Outstanding Graduate Student
• Whitney Phillips

Highest Grade Point Average
• Cassidy Olson

Moeur Awards
Students attained a 4.0 GPA in eight or fewer consecutive semesters.
• Jordan Johnson
• Leigh Anne Zinsmeister

Kappa Tau Alpha Honor Society
Students represent the top 10 percent of graduating journalism students.
• Patricia Anderton
• Kyle Daly
• Jennifer Hoagland
• Jordan Johnson
• Thomas Lenneberg
• Ando Muneno
• Cassidy Olson
• Whitney Phillips
• Tye Rabens
• Michael Sackley
• Leigh Anne Zinsmeister

Student Speaker
• Leigh Anne Zinsmeister