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CNN Senior Latin American Affairs Editor Rafael Romo encouraged graduates of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to “give journalism all you’ve got,” saying anything is possible with the education they received from Arizona State University.
Romo, a 1995 Cronkite graduate who delivered the keynote convocation Friday evening, said he had come to ASU from Mexico knowing little English. He credited ASU and the Cronkite School as major factors in his road to success.
“At ASU, my development went beyond academics,” he told an audience of more than 1,000, including 100 graduating students. "Here I learned about American values, about progress and hope, and about always giving your best effort to what’s important in life.”
The Cronkite alumnus and 2010 Cronkite Alumni Hall of Fame inductee started his 18-year career as a reporter at KPHX Radio 1480 AM in Phoenix and later became general assignment reporter for the Chicago CBS affiliate and executive producer at Univision in Chicago before landing his current slot as a CNN international correspondent covering Latin American issues for a global audience.
In his speech, Romo shared stories of the struggles he had overcome, which included battling a cancer diagnosis he received just five days before graduating from ASU, working nights and weekends, and studying relentlessly to learn English and improve his speech.
Romo said Cronkite professors, including Associate Professor Craig Allen and Assistant Dean Mark Lodato, then an adjunct faculty member, had taught him not just journalism values but also professional lessons that helped him move ahead.
“I would be fooling myself if I thought I accomplished this on my own," Romo said. "Throughout my life, God has surrounded me with key people who took me by the hand and showed me the way; people who mentored me, inspired me and patiently taught me the lessons I needed to learn to move ahead."
He said Allen was one of several professors who had inspired him to think big.
“Professor Craig Allen convinced me that I had what it took to compete in the Hearst Awards, a national journalism competition,” Romo said. “The Walter Cronkite team brought home the first (place) prize in 1995, and I was among the top 10 broadcast students who competed that year.”
Romo encouraged students to follow their ambitions and look for the future of journalism while never forgetting the values taught at the Cronkite School.
Natalie Podgorski, the student speaker at the convocation, echoed Romo’s sentiments, urging her class of 2010 cohort to follow their dreams to their destinations.
“Our professors have given us everything we need to be great. Now we just have to go out and do it,” Podgorski said.
Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan told the graduates, "You are Walter Cronkite’s greatest legacy."
STUDENT AWARD WINNERS:
Outstanding Undergraduate Students
Outstanding Graduate Student
Highest Grade Point Average
Kappa Tau Alpha Honor Society
Students represent the top 10 percent of graduating journalism students.