Alumni turn out in force for FreshTV virtual meeting

Ten alumni participated in a Sept. 21 Zoom call to welcome first-year students to Elon and the school’s accelerated training program for news reporting, documentary filmmaking and non-fiction storytelling.

School of Communications alumni joined a Sept. 21 Zoom meeting to engage with the first-year students participating in the school’s FreshTV program.

A few days before FreshTV’s weekly meeting on Sept. 21, Assistant Professor J McMerty put out a call on social media for program alumni to attend the initiative’s next gathering. The objectives were simple: welcome this year’s cohort, and impart wisdom on the group’s aspiring filmmakers and creatives. The alumni response didn’t disappoint.

Seven alumni joined the Zoom meeting to engage with the first-year students, and three other Elon graduates provided short, pre-recorded videos that were shared with attendees. Alumni on the video call included Tim Johnson ’09, Bia Jurema ’15, Raj Rawal ’12, Jordan Roman ’15, Lumiere Rostick ’20, Gavi Schankerman ’19 and Asha Michelle Wilson ’13. David Douglas ‘06, Katie Maraghy ’15 and Mia Ginaé Watkins ’16 provided inspirational videos explaining how the accelerated training program positively impacted their time at Elon and after.

With participating alumni scattered across the entertainment and news industries, from casting and scriptwriting to directing and broadcast news, a wide range of topics, insights and personal experiences were shared. That was the goal.

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“We, the School of Communications, are fortunate to have this engaged group of Elon alumni succeeding in film, television and elsewhere, and they are willing to pay it forward to today’s students,” said McMerty, who directs the Elon in Los Angeles program. “This year’s FreshTV group, the class of 2024, has had to face challenges like no other. With an anticlimactic end to their high school careers and starting college with masks and social distancing protocols, we wanted to make them feel welcome at Elon – and to feel a part of Elon.

“Bryan Baker and I felt it was important for this year’s FreshTV students to connect with alumni who have sat in their seats and had the same aspirations they have.”

FreshTV is one of the school’s longest-running programs tracing back to 1996, when it was named Advanced Production Team and led by Christopher Waters, currently associate vice president of information technology and chief information officer. McMerty led FreshTV for 12 years beginning in 2000, and Baker has directed the first-year program since 2012. Additionally, Abby Igoe, assistant director of multimedia projects, has been heavily involved since her arrival in fall 2019.