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Five Years After Obama’s Visit to ASU, Cronkite Class Reflects on Professional Success

May 4, 2014

Five years ago this month, President Barack Obama addressed Arizona State University’s graduating class as uncertainty lingered among the 9,000 graduates and their families at Sun Devil Stadium. The country was in the midst of a historic economic recession. In the face of these challenges, the new president posed a bold proposal to the graduating class.

“Graduates, it is now abundantly clear that we need to start doing things a little differently,” Obama said during his commencement address. “In your own lives, you’ll need to continuously adapt to a continuously changing economy: to have more than one job or career over the course of your life; to keep gaining new skills — possibly even new degrees; and to keep taking risks as new opportunities arise.”

Today, ASU’s class of 2009 at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication has blazed new career paths, succeeding at new jobs and opportunities – some that did not even exist before the recession.

Samuel Burke

Samuel Burke, CNN anchor and correspondent
Samuel Burke has made a name for himself in the burgeoning field of Spanish language broadcast journalism. He is a technology correspondent at CNN and also anchors technology news programs at CNN en Español. He reports on how technology and social media affect the business world and consumers.

Burke has constantly had to adapt in the news world, moving nearly a dozen times, living in London, New York and Atlanta, acquiring different technology skill sets to succeed in his career. He said the Cronkite School and ASU gave him the training and technical skills needed to make sound, ethical decisions in the 24-hour news environment.

“Nothing could have prepared me more for my work at CNN than the Cronkite School,” Burke said. “Cronkite truly prepared me for the many lenses a journalist must look through when working on international news stories.”

Amanda Chan

Amanda Chan, Huffington Post senior editor
Cronkite School graduate Amanda Chan found a career in health journalism as a senior editor for Health News at The Huffington Post, which was a nascent online publication in 2009.

Chan’s path to The Huffington Post started because of a staff writer position with another online publication, MyHealthNewsDaily.com. Along the way, she became skilled at social media, which she said is very important for consuming and sharing news online. Chan said her ASU education gave her the skills and experience needed to excel at her job.

“The Cronkite School provided me with a strong base in journalism,” she said. “After all, reporting, writing and editing skills are vital to my job. And because I work in online media, speed is everything. But it's no use being fast if you aren't also accurate, or if your sentences don't make any sense.”

Jonathan J. Cooper

Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press statehouse reporter in Salem, Ore.
Jonathan J. Cooper launched his career at The Associated Press through immersive professional experiences offered at the Cronkite School. In the past five years, Cooper has risen through the ranks to become an AP statehouse reporter, where he covers government and politics in Oregon.

Since 2009, Cooper’s responsibilities as a reporter have evolved with the rise of social media and mobile devices. When he started, he primarily wrote print-style articles. Today, he develops stories for a variety of mediums, including the AP Mobile news app. Cooper said his ASU education provided him with the journalism skills necessary for success.

“I got a solid grounding in the mechanics of journalism from ASU,” Cooper said. “I have all of the skills to succeed in the industry as the technology changes.”

Shannon Rae Green

Shannon Rae Green, USA TODAY video editor
Shannon Rae Green has been at the forefront of USA TODAY’s push into multimedia journalism. She is an on-camera reporter and technical director at USA TODAY, anchoring and producing several popular video series.

Green said the Cronkite School prepared her for success at one of the nation’s largest news organizations. She added that she took President Obama’s advice to heart. To keep up with the ever-changing landscape of journalism, Green enrolled in online classes at ASU to sharpen her video and programming skills through a master's degree from the College of Technology & Innovation.

“Believe it or not, I often think of the president's speech from my graduation in 2009,” Green said. “ASU’s challenges campaign has really inspired me to do more with my career.”

Ashley Panter

Ashley Panter, Desert Botanical Garden digital content manager
Ashley Panter started at a public relations agency when she graduated from the Cronkite School in 2009. Her job quickly transformed from traditional public relations to online media management, focusing on websites and search engine optimization.

Panter took those skills with her to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix where she manages an e-commerce website with more than 200 pages as well as email marketing and numerous social media channels. She said her ASU master’s degree has helped her adapt to today’s changing job market.

“The current job landscape requires you to continue to learn and adapt as technologies change,” Panter said. “During my time at ASU, I worked for different professors in different capacities, which taught me how to quickly access what was needed and change how I do things to be more efficient.”