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CBS News President Tells Graduates to Stay True to Cronkite’s Values

May 6, 2012

The president of CBS News encouraged the newest graduates of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to stay true to the values embodied by the school’s namesake as they embark on their journalism careers.

David Rhodes told the 196 Cronkite graduates and more than 1,600 guests at Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University Friday that Cronkite’s values are still highly relevant for today’s journalists.

“Cronkite represented certainty in an uncertain world, trust in an untrusting world,” Rhodes said. “Tonight I want to tell you that those values, our values, aren’t antique. They’re timeless.”

Rhodes said that a generation of journalists defined by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy Jr. is giving way to one defined by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

“All of us at CBS hope that Walter Cronkite’s memory will continue to inspire this new generation and generations of communicators to come,” he said.

Rhodes also urged the graduates to challenge themselves to make a significant impact as journalists.

“(I) encourage you to follow what you’ve learned here, but get outside your comfort zone and do something really meaningful,” he said. “Get noticed. Be different.”

Student speaker Isaac Easley, a graduate of Peoria High School in Peoria, Ariz., encouraged his fellow graduates to "always remember to be the best you that you can be."

Cronkite School Spring 2012 Convocation
CBS News President David Rhodes speaks at the Cronkite School's spring 2012 convocation ceremony.

Easley also spoke about the special sense of community at the Cronkite School.

“This school teaches us how to be good reporters, but more importantly, (it) teaches us how to be greater people," he said. “It’s not about awards or recognition,” he added. “It’s the love we have for one another and for this business that makes us the best.”

In the spring class of graduates, 30 students achieved summa cum laude status (with a grade point average of at least 3.8); another 27 graduated magna cum laude (3.6 to 3.79 GPA); and 45 graduated with cum laude honors (3.4 to 3.59 GPA). Three students were recognized with Moeur Awards for obtaining a grade point average of 4.0 in eight or fewer consecutive semesters.

In addition, 18 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,” Callahan said. “In short, Walter would be incredibly proud of you.”

Outstanding Undergraduate Students
Gardenia Lamadrid Coleman
Jordan Moon
Daniel Neligh
Nathan O’Neal
Salvador Rodriguez
Jessica Testa

Outstanding Graduate Student
Brandon Quester

Highest Grade Point Average (Undergraduate)
Kiali Wong

ASU Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate
Dustin Volz

Moeur Award
Students attained a 4.0 GPA in eight or fewer consecutive semesters.
Krystal Klei
Daniel Neligh
Stephanie Russo

Kappa Tau Alpha Honor Society
Students have GPAs that put them in the top 10 percent of the graduating class.
Gardenia Lamadrid Coleman
Morgan Cox
Adriana DiMatteo
Beth Easterbrook
Jaclyn Gettinger
Krystal Klei
Shala Marks
Meghann McKendry
Daniel Neligh
Christina O’Haver
Brandon Quester
Stephanie Russo
Roshanak Safarmehdi
Elias Small
Jessica Testa
Emily Timm
Jessica Von Schell
Kiali Wong

Student Speaker
Isaac Easley