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Aminda Marqués Gonzalez, the executive editor and vice president of the Miami Herald, encouraged the newest graduates of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to defend the First Amendment by producing quality journalism.
Gonzalez, who has led Miami’s major news outlet since 2010, was the keynote convocation speaker at Comerica Theatre in downtown Phoenix, where 343 students received degrees with more than 2,000 guests in attendance.
Marqués, who became the Herald’s first Hispanic executive editor in 2010, said journalism is in the midst of a dramatic technological revolution at the same time that freedom of the press is under attack.
“In this time of fake news, alternative facts and truthiness, our core mission has never been more critical,” she said. “We must continue to shine a light; we must continue to dig and demand answers because what we do matters in ways both large and small.”
Marqués commended the award-winning journalism being produced by students in the Carnegie-Knight News21 multimedia reporting initiative and Cronkite News for investigations into voting rights and opioid addiction, respectively.
“You already know why you chose to be a journalist and why so many of us are still at it, despite the difficulties,” she said. “Every day in this business is an opportunity to make a difference.”
The Cronkite School graduated 328 bachelor’s degree students, with 203 earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication and 37 earning a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Journalism.
Eighty-eight students received a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies, 19 of whom were part of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which provides full tuition coverage for employees to earn their bachelor’s degrees online.
The Cronkite School also graduated 13 master’s degree students, two of whom earned Master of Arts in Sports Journalism. Ian Punnett and Ceeon Quiett Smith both received doctoral degrees.
Student speaker Adriana De Alba of Phoenix spoke about the power to overcome adversity, sharing her personal story of becoming the first in her family to graduate from college. “I know that tonight means a lot to all of us,” said De Alba, who is interning this summer at CBS News in New York, “and that many of you had to overcome challenges to earn this degree. To me, it means the world.”
Nearly a third of the graduating class earned high academic honors. Forty-six students graduated summa cum laude with grade-point averages of at least 3.8; another 19 graduated magna cum laude with GPAs of 3.6 to 3.79; and 37 graduated cum laude with GPAs of 3.4 to 3.59.
In addition, 24 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.
The ASU Alumni Association’s Moeur Award is presented to graduates with the highest academic standing who have completed their course work toward their degree while attending ASU with eight consecutive fall and spring semesters.
STUDENT AWARD WINNERS
Outstanding Graduate Student
ASU Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate
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