On Saturday morning, May 15, the sun shone down on Milan Puskar Stadium as West Virginia University celebrated both 2021 and 2020 graduates, the latter having been denied an in-person ceremony last year because of the global pandemic.
Reed College of Media graduates walked alongside those from the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences and Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design during the 9 a.m. ceremony. Visiting Assistant Professor Jasper Fessmann and Teaching Professor and Journalism Chair Gina Dahlia led the College of Media processional. After processing in and crossing the stage as their names were read aloud, graduates were addressed by President Gordan Gee, Provost Maryanne Reed and keynote speaker Dr. Patrice Harris, a three-time WVU alumna and the first African American woman to be chair of the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees.
Before the ceremony concluded, each College’s dean also shared their well wishes and hopes for the new grads. Dean Diana Martinelli approached the podium to the boisterous applause of Media College grads.
“Today you join our College’s storied network of journalism and communications alumni, which spans more than 80 years,” Martinelli said. “Never have we needed fair, accurate, ethical communicators more, and I take heart knowing that your education here has given you the knowledge and skills needed to fulfill this significant responsibility.”
A total of 413 students graduated from the College of Media this year, earning bachelor’s degrees in Advertising and Public Relations/Strategic Communications, Interactive Design for Media, Journalism, Multidisciplinary Studies, and Sports and Adventure Media, and master’s degrees in Data Marketing Communications, Digital Marketing Communications, Integrated Marketing Communications and Journalism. Assistant Dean of Online Programs Chad Mezera hooded those earning master’s degrees. About 50 graduates from 2020 returned to campus for the in-person ceremony.
Returning for graduation was important to me for many reasons. As a first-generation college student, this was a special moment to be celebrated with my family. Beyond that, the impact WVU had on me was so great that I wanted to be able to celebrate that in the same way that graduates before me had. It was such a beautiful ceremony, and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to return to campus and walk with my fellow classmates in the Reed College! Mary McFarland (BSJ, 2020)
Prior to commencement, the College of Media recognized top undergraduate students. Hannah Belt, Jordyn Johnson, Taylor Miller and Gillian Wanosky were the top overall scholars, earning the highest grade point average (4.0) of the May 2021 undergraduate class. Each year, faculty also select a maximum of five outstanding seniors for each major, based on student applications. This year’s outstanding seniors include Advertising and Public Relations/Strategic Communications majors Hannah Belt, Timothy Eads, Desirae Lindow, Taylor Miller and Cassandra Whisenant; Journalism majors Gabriella Brown, Kayla Gagnon, Clair O’Neil, Adam Payne and Gillian Wanosky; Multidisciplinary Studies major Taylor Scites and Sports and Adventure Media major Cole Pancake.
In addition, 50 bachelor’s degree candidates were recognized for their academic achievement by being awarded Latin honors, which include cum laude (GPA between 3.4 and 3.59), magna cum laude (GPA between 3.6 and 3.79) and summa cum laude (GPA of at least 3.8).