The West Virginia University Reed College of Media celebrated its May Commencement on Friday, May, 10, at the WVU Coliseum.
This year’s ceremony featured keynote speaker Hilde Lysiak, a 12-year-old journalist and the founder of Orange Street News in Selingsgrove, Pennsylvania. She was the youngest commencement speaker ever at WVU and maybe in the country.
Lysiak addressed more than 220 College of Media graduates earning bachelor’s degrees in Journalism (Journalism and Strategic Communications) and Multidisciplinary Studies and master’s degrees in Data Marketing Communications (DMC), Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and Journalism.She tackled the subject of negative media about the future of the journalism industry, combating that with a dedication to the truth.
“There will be those out there waiting for you to fail, and others who believe you were doomed before even earning your first byline. Ignore them. They are wrong,” said Lysiak.
Lysiak, who is the youngest member of the national Society of Professional Journalists, was the first to break the news of a homicide in her hometown at the age of nine. Now, her newspaper has 700-plus paid subscribers and has been read by millions more online. In addition to breaking the murder story, she exposed corruption at a local fire department leading to the firing of top officials, and her exclusive reports on an alleged KKK member forced the suspect to leave town.
Lysiak made headlines recently for standing up to a town marshal in Patagonia, Arizona. She was bicycling through town, following a lead for a story, when the officer pulled her over and tried to stop her from pursuing the story. Her video of the encounter went viral, reaching nearly 500,000 views, and the Patagonia mayor offered a public apology. Lysiak was uniquely qualified to inspire graduates with her passion and purpose. She encouraged graduates to remember their real super power—the power of facts.
“We are the generation that can restore the people’s trust,” said Lysiak. “We are the generation of reporters who will choose to have our loyalty to one thing and one thing only—to the truth. To the facts."
Prior to commencement, the College of Media recognized top undergraduate students at its annual Spring Honors Ceremony. Marissa Bailey, Graeson Baker, Allison Fladd, Mateah Kittle, Samantha Stocksdale, Steven Treadway and Olivia VanHorn were tied as the top overall scholars, who earned the highest grade point average of the May 2019 undergraduate class. In addition, 70 bachelor degree candidates were recognized for their academic achievement by being awarded degrees cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Dean Maryanne Reed left graduates with the advice to find what inspires them and follow their hearts, while also letting country roads lead them home every so often.
“As you advance in your career, and life, you will encounter obstacles. But how you respond to those setbacks will ultimately determine how far you can go and the kind of person you will become,” said Dean Reed. “Learn from your misadventures and keep moving forward, facing your future with a curious nature and a brave and open heart.”
More Commencement Highlights:
- View photos from the event