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Robertson School congratulates 159 graduates, honors award winners at virtual Commencement

May 8, 2020

Posted in: News

The Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture is congratulating its 159 undergraduate and graduate students on their graduation at a virtual commencement. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, commencement had to be moved to a virtual format this May, but all graduates are invited to participate in VCU's December commencement ceremony as well. 

"Take your Robertson School spirit to power through"

"This is a very special day for you, it’s your college graduation," said Interim Director Dr. Marcus Messner in a pre-recorded video message to the graduates. "And I want to say congratulations from all of us here at the Robertson School, your faculty and your staff."

"We know that this has been a very challenging couple of weeks for you and we are so proud of you for everything that you have accomplished and how you managed to power through," Messner added. "I have no fear for you to go out into this new journey after you graduate. You have all of the skills that you need to succeed and I know you will take your Robertson School spirit to power through in the job market. So go out, make your mark, make the world a better place."

"Define this time. Define yourselves. Do great things"

Chet Wade, chair of the Robertson School Advisory Board, said in his pre-recorded message that "what I ask of you today is not to let yourselves be defined by the last few months or the next few. You’re better than that. I want you to define your future. I want you to determine what’s next."

"You can give voice to those who deserve it. You can shine a light on the new and exciting that is going on all around us," Wade added. "Not everyone gets that great opportunity. So, now more than ever, we need you to make the most of it. Define this time. Define yourselves. Do great things. I know you will."

"Everything we’re doing should be driven by purpose and passion"

The Robertson School also asked one of the graduating students, advertising senior Kevin Nguyen, to address the graduating class. "This experience has allowed each of us to focus on our unique gifts and talents and use them in a way that is for the better good of society. If we all use our skills to motivate and encourage others, then as a collective we have the ability to truly push society forward," Nguyen said in a video message. 

"Right now, we’re all longing for the desire to connect with something real instead of virtual, as we did before. But this whole experience has shown us what real connections mean, and reminds us that everything we’re doing should be driven by purpose and passion," he added. "The Class of 2020 will be remembered as one of the most adaptable and resilient classes in history for how we are handling this current situation."

Faculty honor outstanding students

The Robertson School also honored seven outstanding students with the Spring 2020 Faculty Awards. In the selection process for the Faculty Awards, 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 classwork, demonstrating a can-do attitude or being an unforgettable member of the Robertson School family. Faculty voted on the awards for graduating students in each of the School’s undergraduate and graduate programs.

Jaclyn Barton

Jaclyn Barton was selected by the journalism faculty for the Faculty Award of the Multimedia Journalism Master's Program. Barton is a talented, determined reporter who has excelled in the graduate program with outstanding scholastic commitment. Her professors said that from the first semester it was obvious that she wanted to soak up information and work hard in pursuit of her goal to be a reporter. Her diligence to master new material and face challenges was refreshing, as was her upbeat attitude.

Barton looked for stories with impact and had the grit to dig deep in the research and find context and valuable information. She utilized new skills to tell these important stories through audio, video, graphic design and data and showcased reports using multiple platforms. In her last semester of the program, Barton stepped into a leadership role with Capital News Service, a challenging undergraduate program that publishes student work on tight deadlines. As a teaching assistant, she helped edit 80 articles that were published throughout Virginia, many also picked up by the Associated Press.

Lauren Thomas

Lauren Thomas is the winner of the Faculty Award for Creative Advertising. Her professors said that she is often quiet, but when she speaks, she speaks brilliantly. To them, she is one of the kindest students they've ever encountered. At the same time, her approach to creativity has always been fierce.

Thomas is a talented writer, artist and recent recipient of the Black History in the Making Student Award. She was one of only five Robertson School students to be honored with this university award this year. The work she has created during her time at the Robertson School showcases her dedication to the craft of copywriting and her commitment to collaboration. The advertising faculty look forward to seeing her grow and prosper during her very bright future.

Kevin Nguyen

Kevin Nguyen is the winner of the Faculty Award for Strategic Advertising. Under Nguyen's leadership as president, the Ad Club at VCU has been more active than ever before. He was a leader in bringing The One Club's Strategic Workshop to VCU for the first time. He organized a trip to New York for the Ad Club and designed the agency visits towards the career goals of other students. 

Nguyen has a positive outlook, and he makes good things happen. His professors say that "his positive mojo is contagious." But he knows that there are no shortcuts to exceptional work (and exceptional work is always his goal). He studied abroad in Vietnam and stayed an extra three months to do an internship there. 

Jordan Christie

Jordan Christie is the recipient of the Faculty Award for Broadcast Journalism. During her sophomore year at VCU, Christie and a fellow student created and began producing and co-hosting a bi-weekly news show called B-Side News on Richmond’s independent radio station WRIR-FM. Christie continued to produce the program throughout her years at VCU, in addition to serving as a board operator, production team member and member of the News and Public Affairs Committee at WRIR.

Her professors say that Christie became a familiar face to faculty members as she fearlessly went from class to class, seeking story ideas and promoting the radio program. Post-graduation, Christie would like to work for an NPR affiliate station, with an eye on working eventually for a large-market NPR station where she can “produce meaningful and moving stories about the human experience."

Georgia Geen

Georgia Geen was selected by the journalism faculty for the Faculty Award for Digital Journalism. For the past four years, she has worked with The Commonwealth Times, the independent student newspaper at VCU, serving as the executive editor since January 2019. Under her leadership, The CT won a national Pacemaker Award and has been named repeatedly one of the top non-daily student newspapers in the region and nation.

Geen won three awards this spring in the Society of Professional Journalists’ regional Mark of Excellence competition. She received a Dow Jones News Fund internship for the summer of 2019, working as a copy editor at The Roanoke Times, and has been selected to intern for The Los Angeles Times this summer.

Mary Katherine Galoozis

Mary Katherine Galoozis is the winner of the Faculty Award for Public Relations. Her professors say that she has been a standout student from the beginning. Taking an early interest in public relations, media and influencer relations, Galoozis is an example of how passion and curiosity can drive learning. She is a very creative student, and she uses her artistic abilities to make helpful suggestions to others in the class. Galoozis also served as the Robertson School's social media intern.

The faculty saw her grow as a person and as a professional during her time here. She was nominated by them for setting a standard for the importance of having a good attitude and meeting the challenges in the learning space with a professional demeanor. Her professors think that she is a star on the rise who will make her mark on the field of public relations.

Ashley Sanchez

Ashley Sanchez, a broadcast journalism student, was selected by the Robertson School faculty for the Josie Stone Award, named in memory of a former graduate of the School who died tragically. The award recognizes Sanchez as the student who best exemplifies the spirit of generosity, creativity and dedication.

Sanchez is a first-generation college student, who has shown an enormous amount of grit and determination to emerge as one of the top students in the journalism track. She used her cosmetology license to continue working throughout her time here, while living at home to care for both older and younger members of her family. Despite the enormous amount of responsibility she carried, she was always in class, always dependable, and always a joy to be around. Her kind spirit and quiet determination have made an impression on her professors.

When asked what graduating from the Robertson School means to her, Sanchez said that "it's definitely bittersweet that I won't get to walk across the stage with my friends, but at the end of the day, I didn't let anything stop me from completing my degree. I held on. I pushed through all the stress, the doubt and the heartache in my life and finished for family and for me.”

School celebrates Black History in the Making Award winners

The Robertson School also celebrates the following students as recipients of the university's Black History in the Making Awards: Taylor Herndon, Lauren Thomas, Claire Ozah, Brea Hill, and Maia Stanley. The students received their awards at a ceremony in February. The award recognizes the achievements of African-American students, who have made an important contribution to their communities and programs.


Congratulations, Robertson School Class of 2020!