Ryan Thomas is an English major with a concentration in Professional Writing. He is the Sports Editor at UMass Boston's The Mass Media and has interned at the Boston Globe as a “Sport Hawk,” writing nightly roundups of high school games and, more recently, covering track and field events and swim meets for the Globe. He intends to go on to make a career as a sports journalist.
Kelly Cahill is a graduate of Plymouth North High School. She concluded her college career with two internships. In the fall, at Project Bread, she worked with numerous publications and newspapers in efforts to get the word out about the non-profit organization. This semester, she has worked as a script-writer and teleprompter operator for New England Cable News, on the 4:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. shift. “At first it was a little bit nerve-wracking,” she says. Kelly intends to work as a news writer or broadcast journalist. “Now I know where I’m headed,” she says.
During the past year, Faye Woffenden-Phillips worked as an intern for the New England Ethnic Newswire and produced stories for the Web site www.ethnicnewz.org. One of her stories included an excellent interview with the mayor of Fitchburg, Lisa Wong, who made headlines when she became the state’s first female mayor of Asian heritage. Throughout the year, Faye has shown true diligence in producing her stories. She has also demonstrated a keen appreciation for feedback.
Olesia Plokhii, 08, is completing her first year at University of Massachusetts Boston. She previously studied at the University of Alberta and Grant MacEwan College in Canada. In the most recent marking period, she had a 3.88 GPA. She writes for the Mass Media, the independent student newspaper at UMass Boston. Olesia, who is of Ukrainian background, says she is eager to begin a career in journalism. “I would love to be a political foreign correspondent -- for a newspaper, magazine, online news wire agency, or radio series.” She would like to file news reports from hot spots, write about the transitions that some nations make to democracy and file “reports on issues of social justice around the world.” Olesia, who majors in political science, says she will likely go on to graduate school for a more focused study of communications and journalism. Schooling has been important to her. “Having been profoundly influenced by teachers and professors from all walks of life throughout my education, I strongly believe in the power of mentors in shaping the foundation of self-assurance and perseverance in youth who go on to do great things,” she says.
Importantly, Olesia is an avid news consumer. “I also like to read the Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, as they are successful publications that are evolving with the changing landscape of journalism into the digital age and employ prolific reporters who are superb writers and determined fact seekers.”
Both of these current students have demonstrated great promise and a passion for practicing journalism. Both have impressed their teachers with their commitment to bearing witness and building a better world through intelligent, truthful and compassionate news reporting.
Ana Carolina Gomez ‘09, who was an intern at El Planeta this semester and also writes for the Mass Media student paper, got intrigued by journalism as a young girl in her native Colombia. “I was around 13 years old…I remember reading the newspaper and wondering who those writers were. I have always appreciated the value of journalism and the role it can play in any society. I also remember the reactions I got from people whenever I mentioned that my dream was to be a journalist. They would tell me that being a journalist in Colombia was too dangerous. I actually stopped mentioning it because I did not want anyone to speak down on my dream. Now I am in the United States and have the opportunity to be a journalist in a place where I am generally not going to be in danger for doing an honest job…I want to contribute to the society around me by informing them about what is relevant and important. Journalism has a lasting impact and an important social value. It can also have a humanitarian impact…Through my writing I would love to close gaps of understanding that separate countries and cultures.”
Through her superior work in her UMass Boston classes, her sense of community and her enthusiastic embrace of journalism, Ana Carolina Gomez represents exactly the kind of promising journalist that this award strives to honor.
Neetzan Zimmerman ‘07 came to the U.S. from Israel as a teenager. He developed his interest in becoming a journalist while studying at UMass Boston at night. His senior capstone project in Communication Studies was an ambitious paper on what newspapers need to do with the Internet in order to thrive as a source of “best practice” journalism that serves democracy.
In Israel, he said, “People care about the news so much, that they will tune in every hour to hear if anything has changed over the past 60 minutes…It was in this environment that I first got interested in the power of journalism to make the world stand still. My father would bring home two newspapers every day, and I would sit for hours at a time, devouring every fold…Since my early days, I have carried around with me a sense of deep respect for news writing. Not merely for its position as a keeper of the minutes for human history, but for its ability to make sense out of utter chaos, its ability to level the playing field for social mobility, and for its ability to redefine meaning—to make people care….It wasn’t until I began taking courses as part of the university’s communication studies program that I discovered my zeal for news was not limited to passive consumption. I found myself eager to participate in the conversation, wanting to contribute and produce my own stories.”
The Center on Media and Society is proud to honor Neetzan Zimmerman and looks forward with interest to his promising career.
Demetra Chornova is exactly the kind of student that David Nyhan would have wanted to encourage as she pursues her dream of a journalism career. She is open-minded, soft-spoken and generous, encouraging people to give their best. But underneath that gracious demeanor Demetra is unusually tenacious and persistent, qualities that will serve her well as a reporter. Her intelligence, interest in worlds beyond her own world, and personal struggles have prepared her well for the difficult job of news reporting. Demetra has labored for ten years to find a path and complete her undergraduate college degree. It was her discovery of journalism a couple of years ago that focused and inspired her to complete her studies. Today she is one of the top students in her graduating class, and-- as an intern at the Dorchester Reporter--she is well on her way to a promising journalism career.
Gintautas Dumcius and Kristen DeOliveira