Excellence celebrated at School of Communications’ end-of-year ceremony

During its annual awards ceremony, hosted May 5 in Turner Theatre, the school acknowledged high achievement from students, faculty and staff, hosted the first induction of its Kappa Tau Alpha honors society, and bid farewell to retiring Associate Professor Michael Skube.

Senior Jordan Young (left) smiles as Professor Naeemah Clark presents her with the Outstanding Senior Award in Cinema and Television Arts during the School of Communications’ awards ceremony on May 5.

The School of Communications recognized the achievements of students, faculty and staff during the past academic year at the school’s annual awards celebration held on May 5 in Turner Theatre. The end-of-the-year awards ceremony featured several heartfelt moments, with anecdotes, inside jokes and mentor-mentee embraces. Two honorees also joined via video – one while studying abroad and the another from Maine, the location of her post-graduation job.

Communications Dean Rochelle Ford commended the in-person audience and individuals watching via livestream for their commitment to education, excellence and each other.

Photos of the ceremony are available on the school’s Flickr page.

Student Achievement

Twenty-seven outstanding students were selected from among more than 1,500 School of Communications students to be honored for their exceptional contributions in and out of the classroom. Those honored meet the highest academic standards, have been active in on-campus media and student organizations, and have achieved great success in challenging internships.

Dean Rochelle Ford poses for a photograph with several Outstanding Senior Award recipients. Pictured (from left) are Ford, Savannah Lowry (Strategic Communications), Catherine Nester (Communication Design) and Claire Latimer (Sport Management).

Outstanding Senior Awards

These six awards recognize outstanding personal and professional achievements by graduating seniors who have demonstrated through consistent performance extraordinary knowledge and ability in their areas of specialization, and have made significant contributions to the School of Communications and the major.

  • Claire Latimer, Sport Management Award. Presented by Shaina Dabbs.
  • Savannah Lowry, Strategic Communications Award. Presented by Hal Vincent.
  • Jordan Young, Cinema and Television Arts Award. Presented by Naeemah Clark.
  • Catherine Nester, Communication Design Award. Presented by Shannon Zenner.
  • Blaire Palmer, Media Analytics Award. Presented by Brian Walsh.
  • Emery Eisner, Journalism Award. Presented by Anthony Hatcher.

Student Scholarships

A.J. Fletcher Award
Britt Mobley and Megan Curling

This award honors outstanding students majoring in strategic or broadcast communications who demonstrate a wide-ranging interest in the field, service to the community, and leadership on campus or in their lives. Presented by Kenn Gaither and Glenn Scott.

Sport Management Endowed Scholarship
Brett Bailey and Cedar Zobel-Williams

Awarded to declared sport management majors who have a record of contributions to the department and exhibit significant potential for professional success. Presented by Cara Lucia.

Times-News Publishing Co., Inc. Scholarship
Avery Sloan

Awarded to one journalism student in the School of Communications who is planning on a career in print journalism and has demonstrated leadership, scholarship, service to the community, and exemplary character traits. Presented by Israel Balderas.

Associate Professor Tom Nelson embraces Jacob Kisamore during the May 5 ceremony.

William S. E. Neff Elon Experiences Scholarship
Jacob Kisamore

Awarded to students with outstanding merit within the School of Communications to complete an Elon Experience through study abroad, internship, leadership, service or undergraduate research. Presented by Tom Nelson.

The James F. Hurley Legacy Scholarship
Sophie Rosenthal

Awarded to high-achieving students enrolled in the School of Communications with preference to journalism majors. Presented by Amanda Sturgill.

Dubois Legacy Scholarship
Miranda Ferrante

Awarded to rising juniors or seniors in the School of Communications who demonstrate a consistent commitment to their course of study and who show great promise through their participation in study abroad programs and internships. Presented by Kelly Furnas.

Stanley Albright Cook and Grace Lillian Lane Cook Endowed Scholarship
Naomi Washington

Awarded to students majoring in journalism who demonstrate outstanding scholarly work. Presented by Rich Landesberg.

D’Angelo Family Scholarship in Memory of Bill and Kappy Leonard
Javik Blake

Awarded to one outstanding rising senior majoring in journalism and preparing to enter the field of broadcast journalism. Presented by Tommy Kopetskie.

Anthony & Olga Duke Communications Scholarship
Kyra O’Connor

Awarded to students pursuing majors in the School of Communications on the basis of merit. Presented by Colin Donohue.

Senior Lecturer Randy Piland (left) highlights Clare Grant’s many accomplishments while introducing her for the James Michael Elzar Foreman Endowment.

James Michael Elzar Foreman Endowment
Clare Grant

This award honors the most promising rising senior focusing on television production to be used to fund an Elon Experience related to the student’s major. Presented by Randy Piland.

Brad Hamm International Communications Scholarship
Ashley Aviles

Awarded to one rising junior or senior student enrolled in the School of Communications, who is either an international student or has demonstrated strong international interest. Presented by Vanessa Bravo.

Maity Interiano Annual Scholarship
Jose Alex Reyes

This award is to be used to support a student’s educational experience, with preference given to a student who identifies as Hispanic/Latinx with an academic major within the School of Communications. Presented by Vanessa Bravo.

James Wesley Willard II Memorial Scholarship
Leslie Aviles Mendoza

Awarded to one student enrolled in the School of Communications on the basis of merit. Presented by Vanessa Bravo.

Don Bolden School of Communications Dean’s Scholarship Fund
Hope Valenti

This award was created to fund experiences for Elon students to understand the links between learning in the classroom and applying that knowledge to explore and report on the world around them. Presented by Jane O’Boyle.

School of Communications Founding Dean Scholarship Endowment
Luke Johnson and Morgan Hack

Awarded to rising seniors with strong academic records in one of the majors offered by the School of Communications who are emerging as leaders in student media or student organizations in the school. Presented by Rochelle Ford.

Faculty Achievement

Following the student awards, three faculty members and one staff member in the School of Communications were recognized for their outstanding work this academic year.

Four faculty members and staff members were celebrated for their contributions during the 2021-22 academic year. Pictured (from left) are Phillip Motley, Jane O’Boyle, Colin Donohue and Israel Balderas.

Excellence in Teaching Award
Jane O’Boyle

The award recognizes a faculty member who is outstanding in the classroom, current in the discipline, a quality academic adviser, and committed to student learning at the highest level.

Appropriately enough, Ford’s introduction of this year’s award recipient started with a post-course student evaluation, which read: “(O’Boyle) listens to everyone’s thoughts and opinions. This professor makes you feel like what you have to say is important. Enjoyed this class a lot.”

Students consistently rate O’Boyle on teaching evaluations above the school and university average, noting that she is innovative and updates her lessons through current readings, relevant multimedia materials and perspectives gained from having a diverse set of guest speakers.

“She has carefully demonstrated how she followed university’s and school’s priorities, and deepened the teaching of content related to data literacy and to diversity, equity and inclusion in her courses,” Ford added.

Following a teaching sabbatical, O’Boyle returned for the 2021-22 academic year to lead six courses across four different programs. In addition to these classes, she collaborated with the Health Communications Task Force to develop an interdisciplinary minor.

Excellence in Scholarship/Research Award
Phillip Motley

This award recognizes a faculty member whose scholarly and creative work is of high quality and brings distinction to Elon.

Ford marveled at Motley’s productivity in the past year, publishing three peer-reviewed articles and a book chapter. He was a collaborating author on the foreword to a special section of Teaching & Learning Inquiry; the lead author for a chapter in an edited volume, Integrating Digital Literacy in the Disciplines; and the lead author for an article published in The Global Impact Exchange, and collaborated with colleagues in an article published in the Social Enterprise Journal. He has an additional chapter for an edited volume forthcoming and two other manuscripts out for review.

In collaboration with four other Elon colleagues, Motley was part of a successful application for a Colonial Academic Alliance IN/CO Grant, titled “Preparing Students and Institutions to Engage in Community-Based Learning.” He made recent presentations at five professional conferences, including the Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement Conference, and the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning Conference.

Additionally, he serves as part of a consulting team between Elon’ s Design Thinking Center and Cone Health, a private, not-for-profit healthcare system based in Greensboro.

Excellence in Leadership Award
Israel Balderas

The award recognizes a member of the School of Communications who richly contributes to the betterment and reputation of the school and the discipline.

Ford commended Balderas, who arrived on campus in fall 2021, for “hitting the ground running” and making significant contributions to campus initiatives and off-campus organizations in his first year. She noted his involvement with the NC Local News Workshop, his appointment as an at-large member of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Board of Directors, and his instrumental role placing junior Kyra O’Connor on the SPJ Legal Defense Fund Committee.

“Kyra’s appointment offers a strong networking opportunity for her, and a mentoring opportunity for Israel. These appointments raise the national profile of journalism at Elon,” Ford said.

Additionally, Balderas has been involved with Elon’s SPJ chapter, hosting a session on mastering internship interviews, presented a “Know Your Legal Rights as a Journalist” session at the 2021 SPJ Conference, and attended live broadcasts of Elon News Network to offer technical assistance and mentorship guidance.

“Elon is excellent because of our excellent teaching and our scholars who bring their knowledge generation back into the classroom,” Ford said. “Elon is one of the best run campuses because of the efforts of faculty and staff who make significant contributions to campus.”

Outstanding Staff Member Award
Colin Donohue

The award recognizes a staff member of the School of Communications who contributes to the betterment and reputation of the school and its initiatives.

In the dean’s introduction, Ford called Donohue a “major contributor to the school,” and applauded him for accepting additional responsibilities in the past year. Those new tasks included overseeing the emergency funding process for students, working with the school’s student advisory board, and helping coordinate efforts with admissions. He was also vital to the establishment of the Emerging Journalists Program – funded by a $300,000 Scripps Howard Foundation grant – and led the school’s Turning 21 celebration activities, with events on campus, Atlanta, New York City and Washington, D.C. This was in addition to Donohue’s alumni relations work with Homecoming, coordinating events with the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association, chairing the Student Media Board, and countless other responsibilities.

“I would call this colleague Superman, but his name is Colin Donohue,” Ford quipped.

Special Recognitions

To kick off the ceremony, Ford recognized the school’s inaugural class of Kappa Tau Alpha, the college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism and mass communication.

Ashlyn DeLoughy, Hallie Milstein and Julia Oakes are the first three inductees into the school’s chapter. Members must rank in the top 10 percent of their class and hold at least a 3.0 GPA.

At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, Ford honored school faculty and staff member who successfully completed the Inclusive Leadership in Communications Teacher Professional Development Workshop. Lastly, Ford celebrated the upcoming retirement of Michael Skube, a longtime faculty member of the School of Communications.