Fall convocation

Cronkite School convocation recognizes accomplishments of nearly 300 graduates

Friday, Dec. 15, 2023


The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication recognized the achievements of nearly 300 graduates at its fall 2023 convocation ceremony on Dec. 13 at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe.

Louis Carr, president of media sales at Black Entertainment Television (BET), served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony. 

Carr encouraged the graduates to “live out their greatness,” and highlighted the increased opportunities available to journalism and communication professionals.

“Think about everything you have today — all of the opportunities that exist from digital to social media to cable TV to linear TV,” he said. “Every single industry now needs some of your skills.”

In a speech filled with sports analogies, he reminded the graduates that attaining their degrees was just the end of their “training camp,” and they should be prepared to handle the doubts and distractions that await them.

Carr said that while doubt is always lurking, it shouldn’t discourage the graduates from pursuing their desired job or taking a necessary risk for their career. He also encouraged the group to remain intentional and focused on their jobs and careers and not succumb to distractions that could keep them from their goals.

Carr ended his speech with inspiring words from Martin Luther King, Jr., encouraging the graduates to remain committed to themselves.

“Believe in your self-dignity more than anybody else. Believe in your self-worth more than anybody else. Believe that you are somebody more than anybody else. And believe that your significance makes a difference in today’s world,” he said.

The convocation honored student award winners and featured a congratulatory video speech from Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism winner David Muir, anchor and managing editor of “ABC World News Tonight with David Muir.” 

Cronkite School Dean Battinto L. Batts Jr. thanked the graduates for their contributions to the Cronkite School and encouraged them to make a difference as journalists and communicators.

“Our work, our mission and our purpose has never been more important than it is now. Media, journalism and mass communication touch all corners of our global society,” Batts said. “Graduates, we send you forth into this world prepared to be leaders, experts, difference makers.” 

The ceremony also featured student convocation speaker Rebecca Striffler, who reminded her fellow graduates that all of their journeys are going to look different, so there’s no need to compete with one another.

“There are only a handful of degrees represented here today, but hundreds of paths to be followed,” Striffler said. “No two people in this room had the exact same experience or will pursue the exact same opportunities after graduation.”

She encouraged the group to root for each other’s success because when one person wins, it makes the Cronkite School name much more valuable.

“When one person breaks that story, has a client win or cracks the mystery of the social media algorithm, that contributes toward the continued legacy of the Cronkite School,” she said. “We all have unique individual stories to write, literally and figuratively. And, I hope you will all read each other’s stories with pride, just as we will read yours.”

In total, 295 students received degrees, including 77 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies, 50 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication, 31 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Journalism, 60 with a Bachelor of Science in Digital Audiences and three with a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media Literacy.

The Cronkite School awarded 72 master’s degrees. That includes 37 Master of Science in Digital Audience Strategy, 14 Master of Arts in Sports Journalism, 11 Master of Mass Communication and 10 Master of Arts in Investigative Journalism. Two graduates received Ph.Ds in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Outstanding Undergraduate Student
Colton Cagle
Sophia Crevelt 
Mindy Lok
Cassandra Sheerin
Amber Victoria Singer

Outstanding Graduate Student
Trilce Estrada Olvera
Caitlin Thompson

Top Innovator Award
Kaitlyn Parohinog
John Leos

Cronkite Spirit Award
Nikita Chaturvedi
Mingson Lau

Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society
Graduate Students
Erin Ambrose
Sydney Halliwell
Emma Offer
Elizabeth Smith
Tawny Swink
Erica Tinsley
Tami Villa 

Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society
Undergraduate Students
Sierra Andrus 
Nicklaus Hogan
Katelyn Lahr
Mindy Lok
Krystyna Medina
Elizabeth Moore
Ellington Nichols
Nicole Rossi
Aya Shiha
David Simpson
Rebecca Striffler
Noel Svendson
Scott Swofford
Kyle Thurman
Brianna Valles
Samantha Vo Meester
Kadison Willis

Moeur Award
Nicklaus Hogan
Mia Melendez
Ellington Nichols
Camila Pedrosa
Sivan Plotkin
Cassandra Sheerin
Aya Shiha
Rebecca Striffler