Back to the future: OHIO alumni visit high schools to explain journalism careers

Published: January 17, 2024 Author: Ken Klein

Ohio University alumni ambassadors are visiting in-state high schools and beyond to explain media careers and opportunities amidst rapid changes in technology and delivery of information.

Launched in the fall of 2022, the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism alumni ambassador program has expanded to greater Pittsburgh and will add visits in the spring of 2024, says Broadcast Journalism alumnus Marc Rosenweig (BSJ ’71) who coordinates this volunteer effort.

“High school visits are a great way to share with students the value of media careers and an Ohio University education,” said Rosenweig. “Alumni response has been terrific, and we’re looking for more Bobcats to join us.”

(If you’d like to participate in high school visits, contact alumnus Marc Rosenweig.)

Regional alumni leaders for high school visitation include:
•    Mike Canan (BSJ ’02), director of journalism strategies, Scripps Howard Fund, Cincinnati
•    Pete Costanzo (BSJ ’77), chairman, Marsh Ideas, Cincinnati
•    Mary Ellen Hardies (BSJ ’01), director of brand and cause awareness, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Dublin
•    Scott Milburn (BSJ ’91), co-founder and partner, Thirty PR, Columbus
•    Jeremy Boren (BSJ ’03), brand manager, GrayMatter, Greater Pittsburgh
•    Caitlin Price (BSJ ’08), associate support analyst, Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh
•    Joe Donatelli (BSJ ‘98), digital director at WEWS News 5 Cleveland

Strong ties

Rosenweig says school visits strengthen OHIO connections to high school teachers, answer students’ questions about career paths and promote the annual High School Journalism Workshop  in Athens.

A man sits on a stool speaking to a high school class
Mike Canan (BSJ ’02) chats with students at William Mason High School

At William Mason High School’s “Scripps Day” near Cincinnati, students’ questions were impressive, recalled Mike Canan (BSJ ’02), a member of the OHIO team of alumni and students that visited Mason on December 6.

Did alumni make the grade?

“They were awesome,” posted the Mason High Broadcast Crew.

Mason High and other schools visited by OHIO alumni have long traditions of sending students to Ohio University. WOUB Sports Director Ayden Crowley graduated from Mason in 2020; Crowley has returned to Mason to tell students they can get hands-on media experience in their first year at Ohio University. Crowley, a senior in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, has traveled nationwide covering OHIO sports including the Myrtle Beach Bowl on December 16, 2023.

Cincinnati alumnus Connor Kurek (BSJ ’20) is director of media and communication at Oyler School, which hosted Scripps faculty and alumni on November 17, including Eddith Dashiell, director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Kurek also takes Oyler students to Athens for campus tours.

In metro Cleveland, TV journalist Steven Hernandez  (BSJ ’19) is a repeat visitor to area high schools (Lincoln West in November and Shaker Heights in December 2022)

When the Shaker Heights Class of 2023 graduated on June 6, the commencement speaker was Pulitzer Prize winning journalist-educator-author Wesley Lowery who graduated from Shaker High in 2008.

At Ohio University, Lowery was editor of The Post in 2011-2012 and commencement speaker in 2017.

Western Pennsylvania

On November 20, journalism alumnus Jeremy Boren (BSJ ’03) visited his alma mater Seneca Valley High School in Harmony, Pennsylvania.

“The students at Seneca Valley High TV asked great questions about the future of journalism, how to evaluate college programs and what to look for in an internship,” Boren posted on Linkedin.

Seneca Valley High is also the alma mater of OHIO alumnus Sarah Donaldson (BSJ ’22), who is now the Statehouse News Bureau reporter in Columbus for Ideastream Public Media.

Scripps alumni and more

OHIO alumni visitors to high schools on behalf of journalism and communication include media professionals who earned college degrees outside of the Scripps College of Communication. Political science graduate Stephanie Haney--digital anchor and legal analyst at WKYC-TV Cleveland--met with students at Perry High School in Massillon in November.

“The kids were super enthusiastic, especially the seniors,” said Haney (BA ’06)

The Perry-to-Ohio University pipeline is strong, says journalism senior Ryan Maxin, who graduated from Perry in 2020. Maxin was editor of Ohio University’s student-run The Post in 2022-2023. Junior classmate Abby Blose was on the powerhouse speech team at Perry; Blose has won national recognition on OHIO’s speech and debate team.

Some high school visits feature groups of OHIO alumni, students and faculty. Other connections rely on one person making repeat visits. In Cincinnati, Howard Wilkinson of WVXU Public Radio is a longtime mentor to the award-winning student publication at Walnut Hills High School, The Chatterbox.

When students at Walnut Hills ask Wilkinson — a dean of political writers in Ohio — about his college experience in Athens, he recalls covering his first elections for The Post in the 1970s.

As the 2021-2022 school year ended, Wilkinson took a photo of two Walnut Hills seniors on The Chatterbox newspaper staff, Kylie Bridgeman and Robert Keegan.

Wilkinson’s brief caption revealed their future: “Bobcats.”

Keegan now is a sports editor of The Post; Bridgeman is an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow who interned at WLWT Channel 5 in Cincinnati after her first year at Ohio University.