Homecoming weekend brought nine School of Communications graduates back to campus to participate in a live panel discussion, providing current students with advice on how to use their Elon experiences to enhance their careers.
By Sophia Ortiz ’21
The School of Communications hosted an alumni panel on Nov. 2 titled “ElonNext: Success After Elon,” featuring graduates from across the communications industries. The show, livestreamed from the Jane and Brian Williams Studio, provided an opportunity for alumni to discuss their careers post-graduation during Homecoming Weekend.
The live taping was run by members of Elon News Network led by producer Jack Norcross ’21 and director Alex Roat ’20. Students Rachel Ellis ’19 and Anton Delgado ’21 alternated hosting the show, while also monitoring the #ElonNext2018 Twitter feed for questions from the audience.
The panel lasted one hour and was divided into four sections: Purpose and Prep, Lessons Learned, Networking and What’s Next. The alumni offered advice detailing their personal experiences as well as best practices to succeed as a professional.
Nagatha Tonkins, director of internships and alumni relations, coordinated the event as a way for current students to network, connect with, and learn from alumni. Dean Rochelle Ford echoed Tonkins’ sentiments during a pre-show introduction. “Their brand makes our brand stronger,” said Ford, during her first Homecoming weekend as communications dean.
Alexandra Bater ’18, a media associate at Starcom, charged current students to “take on every opportunity, no matter how big or small.” While Tony Weaver Jr. ’16, founder of Weird Enough Productions, encouraged students to make sure to also spend time with friends, as they are a significant part of the college experience. Weaver was also recognized with Elon’s Young Alumnus of the Year award during Homecoming weekend.
Weaver said that Elon, particularly the School of Communications, prepared him to start his company while on campus.
“The reason I was able to do that was because of the amazing resources offered here,” Weaver said. The strategic communications and theatre arts double major said Elon’s impact went beyond just providing him with access to equipment and studios. The university’s faculty and diversity of classes “created an environment that allowed me to grow into the professional I needed to be,” Weaver added.
Stephanie Hays ’18, lead designer for the Sacramento Business Journal, also offered insight on being a recent graduate and how to assimilate into a new city.
“Moving to a new city where I didn’t know anybody, making friends was a huge priority for me,” she said. To help get acclimated, she sought out roommates and got involved in community events.
Hays, along with several alumni, concluded the panel discussion with words of wisdom for students in the audience and those watching online.
“Embrace that discomfort and being scared, because that’s what’s going to push you to try new things,” Hays said.
Junior Grace Morris, who ran audio for “ElonNext,” called the panel “most inspirational event of the year.” “Getting to learn from alumni experiences, makes me feel ready for the future,” she said.
Tom Mullen ’00, Atlantic Records
Alex Day ’16, Yankees Productions
Stephanie Hays ’18, Sacramento Business Journal
Alexandra Bater ’18, Starcom
Tony Weaver ’16, Weird Enough Productions
Zachary Bocian’17, United Talent Agency
Rachel Cierri Mull ’10, The Baltimore Sun
Nick Cook ’15, G’18, McKinney
Alyson Campbell ’14, Hargrove