By Colin Froment, Katie Peters & Taylor Viles – Co-editor-in-chief & 1851 Staff
The sixth-annual COMDay occurred Tuesday, March 5 in de Witt Hall, educating the mass audiences on the event’s overall theme, “In Pursuit of Truth.” Throughout the day, students and professors listened to guest speakers, while professionals from communication fields gave advice on securing full-time positions in the future.
The event was organized by the School of Communications & The Arts and chaired by Professor Erin Vicente, with the help of 10 student volunteers led by senior communications major Megan Palumbo. The Public Relations Alliance and the Graphic Design League also assisted throughout the entire day.
The day began with “Political Communication in the Current Era,” a panel moderated by “The Boston Globe” political reporter Joshua Miller. The panel featured Senior Advisor to Gov. Charlie Baker, Jim Conroy and Former Communications officer for Gov. Deval Patrick & Pacer Strategies Cyndi Roy Gonzalez.
“The Boston Globe” sportswriter Dan Shaughnessy was the Distinguished Speaker at 11 a.m. Shaughnessy has authored 12 books, is a 12-time winner of the Massachusetts Sports Writer of the Year Award, and was named one of the Top 10 Sports Writers in America by the Associated Press during his career. The College of Holy Cross graduate described his early background as a sports correspondent while attending high school and shared his words of wisdom.
“If you believe in yourself, stick through it,” Shaughnessy said. “That’s the pursuit of truth.”
He encouraged journalism students to step out of their comfort zone and keep writing. “Get out of your dorm and report…tell me what’s going on at Lasell,” he said. “We are here to write and report the truth.”
In the afternoon, Associate Dean of the School of Communication & the Arts Aaron Toffler led a panel with Associate Professor of Communication at Roger Williams University Dr. Paola Prado and former Chief Environmental Correspondent for “The New York Times” Philip Shabecof. They discussed life as an environmental journalist and how reporting is a chance to influence change.
Boston WHGH TV’s On-Air Investigative Reporter Hank Philippi Ryan was the Keynote Speaker. She is best known for her television work, which has won her 34 Emmy awards and 14 Edward R. Murrow awards. Ryan is the author of 10 mystery novels including “The Other Woman,” “Murder List” and her latest, “Trust Me.”
Her presentation titled, “A Journalist’s Perspective: A search for truth,” reflected the day’s theme. Highlighting how she got her start in investigative journalism and some moments from her career, Ryan gave advice to students on going after their dreams.
“You never know what wonderful thing is around the corner, and you never know what twist and turns your life is going to take,” said Ryan. “You never know what you’re going to have to deal with or what challenge you’ll face, and what wonderful thing, an unexpected thing, will happen after that.”
After a short break, guests were invited to attend the Life After Lasell Alumni Panel and Reception with seven alumni. The former students talked about their college experiences and how it helped shape their careers, regrets of things they did not do while in college and gave advice for those still in school. The hour-long discussion was filled with questions from both students and faculty.
When asked to give advice to graduating students, Alexa Shola ‘16 said, “Aside from career, make sure you guys take care of yourselves,” she said. “Just remember that your journey is your own journey. Don’t compare yourself to other people.” Shola has been Lasell’s Associate Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving since Sept. 2018.
Between each session, guests were treated to coffee, refreshments and lunches, and were allowed to speak with each panelist for networking opportunities. The coffee break was sponsored by the Office of Graduate Enrollment who underlined Lasell’s fifth-year option in the day’s program. The reception after the day’s events was sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations.