By Danny Priest
This past Monday, the Springfield College Communications/Sports Journalism major (COSJ) held its 20-year anniversary reunion.
Nearly 50 alumni, some who graduated as recently as last spring to others as far back as the first graduating class of the program in 2003, returned to campus from as far as Colorado for a day of reconnecting, sharing knowledge, and celebrating achievement.
In addition to the return of past students, all current students in COSJ were welcomed to attend, as well as prospective students of the program.
Communications/Sports Journalism was created as a major in 1999 by longtime Professor of Communications, Dennis Gildea. The event on Monday was primarily run by his current colleagues Marty Dobrow, Kyle Belanger, and Laura Dubowski.
“This was just such an extraordinary day. I felt enormous pride in being a part of this journey of COSJ,” Dobrow said of the event. “We have alums who are so accomplished, so impressive, such good people that it was just wonderful to see so many of them back.”
The day featured four different blocks of panels dedicated to various fields of journalism. Current students had the opportunity to choose which panels they wanted to attend and hear from graduates who are now working in those areas of expertise.
The first block was divided into “The Modern Newspaper” and “Sports Information.” Block No. 2 was “Radio,” “Magazine + Freelance,” and “Public Relations.” Block No. 3 was “Television,” “Digital Media,” and “Professional Sports Organizations.”
The fourth and final block was a lone session called “ESPN” which was followed by a dinner in Cheney and a keynote speaker.
The keynote speaker for the event was Nick Carboni (class of ‘08) who is currently the sports anchor for WCNC-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina. Fresh off covering the Packers-Panthers game at Lambeau Field on Sunday and traversing through snowy Milwaukee to make it back to campus, Carboni presented on his career and the skills he learned from his time at Springfield.
“It was humbling because when I looked out in the crowd there was so many people that when I was here I was like, ‘that’s the most talented guy I’ve ever met,’ and there’s a lot of those people,” Carboni said. “To see them all back today and kind of be tasked with talking to them was truly kind of humbling, really.”
In addition to the panels, dinner, and keynote, a tribute was held for Gildea. Although he was unable to be there himself due to being out on medical leave, several alumni wrote notes of their fondest memories of Gildea.
The entire experience was an opportunity for current students to see where the major can take them in the future.
“Just hearing their experiences, obviously I think a lot of different forms of media and journalism have evolved over 20 years, so listening to their experiences in the different outlets and the different opportunities they had and what they learned and hearing the similarities and experiences are really an overall great feeling,” senior Tanner Jillson said.
“It means a lot to a lot of the current students in the major, especially what we’re studying and trying to do afterwards,” he added.
At the same time, the event was just as meaningful for the alumni to have the chance to reconnect and pass their knowledge onto the next wave of students.
“My biggest takeaway from the whole day is just how many different alumni and undergrads have had their foot in so many different aspects of communications overall. It’s amazing that the program’s only been around for 20 years, but the way things have transitioned and the way the industry has transitioned into how it is today, everyone’s caught up and you guys have those resources here which is unbelievable,” said alumnus Josue Pavon, who is now covering the Boston Celtics for WEEI.com and CLNS Media.
“For me, moments like this, to be able to come back here and share these moments with other alumni and other undergrads, they’re priceless. As long as I can do that, as many times as I’m invited, I will do my absolute best to come back for sure,” Pavon said.
The event was evidence of how far COSJ has come in just 20 years. “It was great to see when we were here in this program, people like myself kind of at the beginning, it was kind of like still feeling itself out,” Carboni said. “Now I think it’s kind of caught traction and there’s a lot of people in a lot of different places that are doing really good things that are alumni and that’s only going to help the program grow.”
Dobrow has been with the program since its inception in 1999, as his first day was the COSJ students’ first day too, so Monday’s event meant a lot to him.
“This was just a beautiful day, a very proud day, and just a tremendous, tremendous highlight in the history of this major and personally immensely satisfying,” he said.
With 20 years having already flown by, there are no signs of COSJ slowing down in the near future.
Photos Courtesy of Springfield College Marketing & Communications