The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Spring 2022 convocation ceremony featured a number of special milestones for the graduates, alumni and faculty.
Not only did it celebrate the accomplishments of 470 graduates, some of whom weren’t able to walk across the stage in the past couple of years because of the pandemic, but allowed an alumna who missed her graduation celebration 50 years ago to finally attend the ceremony. The milestone event also honored Cronkite’s longest-serving faculty member who is retiring.
Marc B. Johnson, vice president of corporate communications at Meta, formerly known as Facebook, served as the keynote speaker.
Bonnie Bartak received recognition at the convocation as a “Golden Alumnus” who graduated from the Cronkite School in 1972 with a bachelor of science degree in journalism but missed her original graduation ceremony because of her evening work shift at The Arizona Republic.
“Bonnie was among the first wave of young female news reporters at The Arizona Republic, helping to break the barriers that existed then for women in hard news,” said Cronkite School Dean Battinto L. Batts Jr., who led the convocation.
After her tenure at the Republic, Bartak was appointed press secretary for Phoenix Mayor Terry Goddard, marking the first time a Phoenix mayor hired someone for that position.
Bartak, who later founded a business with her husband Richard Weiland, has established an endowment scholarship for future Cronkite students who pursue journalism. The endowment was announced at the convocation ceremony.
The ceremony also recognized Professor John Craft, who retired from the Cronkite School this semester after serving the school for 48 years.
Craft was the director of graduate studies for more than a dozen years and taught more than 6,000 students in 350 classes throughout 90 semesters.
“He will leave behind a legacy of influence on thousands of graduates, many of whom have gone on to successful broadcast careers,” Batts said.
Johnson later addressed the crowd, encouraging graduates to be authentically themselves and embrace every part of their “identity, culture, abilities and disabilities.”
He recalled growing up in Washington D.C. and feeling pressured to change his personality to be more agreeable and disarming after he was bussed to a different school in another part of the city.
“I got smaller as problems got bigger. It took me a long time to give myself permission to take up real space in a room, own my story and claim my voice,” he said. “In this next phase of life, you are going to be challenged to lose yourself to excel at what you are doing. Trust me – if you’re doing what you are born to do, the opposite will happen.”
Johnson emphasized the importance of graduates creating a demand for their skillset and continuously improving their skills to remain current with the market. He also told the graduates to “build a network of people headed in the direction you want to go.”
“Your network and cohort push you to accomplish your highest goals, or they can lock in your lowest ceiling. Find your people where your passion and aspirations are, not your comfort zone,” he said.
Lastly, Johnson called on the graduates to help transform the media and communications industry, especially at a time when there are numerous entrepreneurial opportunities available for content creators.
“We are in the midst of one of the most miraculous shifts in the history of modern communications. The proliferation of sources and opinions has created a new calculus for media professionals. We must be fast and accurate,” he said. “Now is the time to grab a seat at the table and be proactive in influencing the future of this brand of media.”
In total, 470 students received degrees, including 96 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies, 128 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication, 89 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Journalism, 48 with a Bachelor of Science in Digital Audiences and one with a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media Literacy.
The Cronkite School also awarded 108 master’s degrees. That includes 84 Master of Science in Digital Audience Strategy and 22 Master of Mass Communication. Two students were awarded a Master of Arts in Sports Journalism.
Student convocation speaker Sydney Halliwell reflected on the supportive environment she encountered during her time at the Cronkite School, especially after dealing with a number of medical issues as a student.
“Our community at Cronkite is so strong and has enabled me not only to persevere through anything life throws at me, but to graduate early with lifelong friends and an education that will shape me forever,” Halliwell said.
To view more photos go to our Spring 2022 Convocation album
Class of 2022 Awards
Outstanding Undergraduate Student
Outstanding Graduate Student
Outstanding Undergraduate Online Student
Outstanding Graduate Online Student
Top Innovator Award
Cronkite Spirit Award
Highest GPA among On-Campus Undergraduates
Highest GPA among Online Undergraduates
Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society
Diana Arellano Barajas
Ariana Diaz Victoria