Back to News

Faculty honor outstanding Robertson School graduates

Dec 9, 2018

Posted in: News

By Marcus Messner, Natasha Long, Josh Smith, Scott Sherman, Bill Oglesby, Jeff South, and June Nicholson, Robertson School faculty and staff

Dr. Donald Young (far left), Professor Vivian Medina-Messner and Dr. Hong Cheng (far right) congratulate the winners of the Faculty Awards on stage at commencement.

The faculty of the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture honored eight outstanding students, who received awards at the fall 2018 commencement ceremony on Dec. 7 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. The School’s Director Dr. Hong Cheng and Dr. Donald Young, Senior Associate Dean of Finance and Administration for the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences, congratulated the winners of the Faculty Awards on stage at commencement.

In the selection process, faculty look for students who distinguished themselves while at VCU and in the Robertson School. This could be through campus involvement in clubs and organizations, amazing class work, demonstrating a can-do attitude or being an unforgettable member of the Robertson School family. Faculty vote on the awards for graduating students in each of the School’s undergraduate and graduate programs.

The following are the fall 2018 Faculty Award winners:

Patrick Kane, Faculty Award winner for the Strategic Public Relations Master's Program.

Patrick Kane was selected as the Faculty Award winner for the Strategic Public Relations Master’s Program. Kane joined VCU’s University Public Affairs staff in 2015. As PR coordinator, he is responsible for distributing press releases, compiling media reports, responding to media inquiries and addressing other PR needs for VCU and VCU Health.

Before entering public relations, Kane spent eight years covering community news as a reporter and multimedia editor for The Progress-Index of Petersburg, garnering more than 20 Virginia Press Association awards. He had earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from VCU in 2007. Kane now also excelled in the School’s graduate PR program.

Katherine "Katie" Bashista, Faculty Award winner for the Digital Journalism Concentration.

Katherine "Katie" Bashista received the Faculty Award from the digital journalism concentration. She is a widely published journalist and a top editor at VCU’s student newspaper The Commonwealth Times. To the journalism faculty, Bashista exemplifies the Robertson School’s standards, including academic achievement and personal character.

Graduating with high honors, Bashista, who has excelled in all of her journalism coursework, will earn a minor in political science. In the School’s Capital News Service, she wrote stories on subjects ranging from Tangier Island and Brunswick stew to sexual assaults, newborn health screening sand controversies over the Confederate flag. Her articles were published by news outlets across Virginia.

Tyler Layne, Faculty Award winner for the Broadcast Journalism Concentration.

Tyler Layne was named winner of the Faculty Award for broadcast journalism. He was a reporter and anchor for VCU InSight, the School’s award-winning student-produced newscast for Richmond PBS, as part of his capstone experience in the broadcast journalism concentration. His instructors lauded his tenacity in the field, noting that he was able to secure interviews with Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine and his challenger, Republican candidate Corey Stewart, while reporting on the 2018 midterm elections.

Layne's abilities were also noticed by WTVR, where Layne worked as an assignment editor and fill-in producer. He was trusted with producing newscasts for DCW50, the CW’s Washington D.C. bureau then headquartered in Richmond. Layne's on-screen talent has also led to a successful career on YouTube, where he creates content for a channel with more than 100,000 subscribers. He will continue his role at WTVR after graduation.

Natalie Davis, Faculty Award winner for the Public Relations Sequence.

Natalie Davis was selected by the public relations sequence for the Faculty Award. She started her college career at James Madison University and transferred to VCU after two years, where she also earned a minor in general business. She cites her professors Dr. Grace Ji, Dr. Jeanine Guidry, Judi Crenshaw and Josh Smith as having great influence on her growth as a public relations student and boosting her self-confidence.

Davis excelled in her research, social media and visual communication classes while at the Robertson School, gaining skills that have helped her land jobs and internships. Davis has a passion for animals and volunteers at animal shelters, like the Richmond Animal League, in her spare time.

Isabelle Tobe, Faculty Award winner for the Strategic Advertising Concentration.

Isabelle Tobe won the Faculty Award of the strategic advertising concentration. Her professors described her as “one of the most intelligent and creative writers taught at this school.” In her studies, she always went above and beyond during the conceptual and executional processes.

Tobe has worked as a copywriting intern at Madison & Main and as a marketing coordinator at Dominion Payroll. She spent a semester in Italy at the Università degli Studi della Tuscia. While there, she did a writing internship for a local travel company and stretched her perspective on life and learning. 

Crystal Douglas, Faculty Award winner for the Creative Advertising Concentration.

Crystal Douglas was honored with the Faculty Award of the creative advertising concentration. Her professors described her as “soft spoken, but brilliant.” In the advertising program, she showed herself to be a driven self-starter, who seeks out opportunities to grow every chance she gets.

Douglas has been a UX/UI Design Intern at Veracity Consulting Group, and she won the Barbara Fultz Women in Advertising Scholarship last year. She also won one of the VCU "Black History in the Making" Awards this year. According to her professors, she has made the most out of every industry connection she was able to make while at the Robertson School.

The Robertson School also honored its Fall 2018 Kappa Tau Alpha Top Scholar award winners. Kappa Tau Alpha is the honor society for journalism and mass communications. Patrick Gordon the winner of the graduate Top Scholar award, while Alexander Crespo is the winner of the undergraduate Top Scholar award. Read more about the KTA award winners here.