Spring 2024 Convocation

Cronkite School honors graduates, retiring faculty at spring 2024 convocation

Friday, May 10, 2024


Trust and truth served as common themes during the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication spring 2024 convocation ceremony held on May 10 at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe. 

The event celebrated the achievements of nearly 370 graduates, many of whom were participating in their first formal graduation exercises because of COVID-19 lockdowns during their senior year of high school.

Cronkite School Dean Battinto L. Batts Jr. praised the graduates for persevering through those difficult times. 

“You have come out stronger and ready to face the challenges ahead,” Batts said. “You inspire us every day. You are the reason Cronkite is such a special place.”

CBS News President Ingrid Ciprián-Matthews served as the convocation speaker for the ceremony. Ciprián-Matthews commended the graduates for their desire to engage with the world as they pursue their careers and urged them to trust in themselves and their colleagues.

“Trusting yourself means learning to see your differences as assets, not liabilities. We all bring something to the table. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise,” Ciprián-Matthews said.

Journalism and communication professionals have to rely on each other and be willing to let peers refine their reporting and storytelling, she said. 

The veteran leader reflected on the daily editorial meetings she attended as a young reporter where each journalist had to be prepared to listen, debate and know every detail about their beat.

“The public cannot trust us if we cannot trust one another,” she said. “You have to be willing to listen to the substance and engage all sides.” 

The Cronkite School recognized five retiring faculty members during the ceremony, paying tribute to Sarah Cohen, professor and Knight Chair in Journalism; Professor Joseph Russomanno, a First Amendment and media law expert who taught at Cronkite for 30 years; and Professors of Practice Steve Crane, Dan Gillmor and Venita Hawthorne James.

Russomanno addressed the audience with a heartfelt farewell speech that included one last lesson for his former students.

“Think for yourself and help others do the same. Provide them the facts. Provide them the truth,” he said. “After all, you are the truth tellers.”

He described the convocation as a “watershed moment” for himself, as well as the graduates.

“I suspect that you and I are about to discover that you can take us out of Cronkite, but you can’t take the Cronkite out of us. And that’s a good thing,” he said. “We will walk out of here forever proud to be part of Cronkite Nation.”

Megan Neely served as the student speaker, describing in her speech how she found her passion at the Cronkite School after switching majors.

Neely, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in digital audiences, originally planned to study environmental and atmospheric sciences.

“I took my first digital audiences classes at the start of my junior year and fell in love with learning again. Telling stories through the content I create gives me an indescribable feeling, Neely said. “It’s exciting to be involved in something that is the future of communication.”

The ceremony recognized 368 students who received degrees, including 91 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication, 80 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies, 73 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Journalism, 46 Bachelor of Science in Digital Audiences and three with a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media Literacy.

The Cronkite School awarded 74 master’s degrees, with 60 receiving a Master of Science in Digital Audience Strategy, 13 with a Master of Mass Communication and one with a Master of Arts in Sports Journalism. One graduate obtained a Ph.D. in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Outstanding Undergraduate Student 
Alexia Hill
Sadie Buggle
Amy Weber
Maeve Moore

Outstanding Graduate Student 
Maria Staubs
Jonah Krell

Top Innovator 
Donovan Johnson

Cronkite Spirit Award
Hayden Cilley
Lydia Curry

Mouer Awards
Maya Badman 
Lia Bar-Am 
Sadie Buggle 
Kate Duffy
Emeril Gordon
Samantha Miller 
Elizabeth Schaible  

Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society
Lauren Kobley   
Maria Staubs  
Reagan Priest  
Annika Tourlas 
Sydney Witte  
Jonah Krell  
Elizabeth Schaible  
Aden Schulze-Miller  
Justin de Haas  
Kate Duffy   
Emeril Gordon 
Sadie Buggle   
Lia Bar-Am   
Peyton Tovey   
Brett Lapinski   
Maya Badman   
Samantha Miller  
Ole Braatelien   
Nicole Macias   
Anahi Aguilera Medellin   
Fiona Watkins   
Alexia Hill   
Marielle Rua  
Patrick Schneider   
Megan Neely  
Zachary Davis   
Isabelle Dortch  
Alexis Huerter  
David Ricuito   
Sky Stone   
Kevinjonah Paguio   
Joshua Amick  
Eliya Herriott  
Athena Kehoe   
Marty Ley  
Toria Tolley