Alumni Feature Archives
Alumnus Takes on Multimedia World at TODAY Show
By Meghan Caprez
Getting yelled at by celebrities, staging gift-wrapping contests and taste-testing ice cream is part of a regular day's work for Kent State University alumnus Kyle Miller.
Miller graduated from Kent State magna cum-laude in 2009. A broadcast news major in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Miller learned from experience that he did not want to become a small-town news reporter. He hoped for something bigger.
After turning down numerous job offers from small-town news stations, he received the offer he was hoping for. It was an offer from NBC's TODAY Show.
"I really prayed and believed the opportunity would open up, and it did," Miller said. "They called me. I didn't even apply for the job at all. I held out for what I wanted."
Miller credits the job opportunity to the connections he made at the show while he was a student at Kent State.
In the summer of 2008, Miller interned at NBC with the TODAY Show. There, he was able to meet and observe some of his news idols, namely Today co-anchor Meredith Vieira.
"It definitely motivated me," Miller said. "I saw what I wanted to do, and I realized how much work I had to put in to get me to that point where I could even be considered for entry-level jobs there."
Miller did not pass up his opportunity to network with professionals at the show. He remained in contact with several of his supervisors when he returned to school in the fall.
"I stayed in contact with some of the anchors and reporters," Miller said. "Jeff Rossen, Jenna Wolfe and Meredith would email me and check up on me, so I wanted to make sure I wasn't completely sucking when they would ask me to send them stuff I was working on."
Today, Miller works as a video producer and reporter for the show and its website. He refers to his job as a hybrid because he is never doing one thing at a time.
Miller's responsibilities include editing the four-hour-long show, producing videos for the website based on the show and creating original content.
Ever since his time at Kent State, Miller wanted to be in a position where he could produce his own stories. Miller says that creating his own stories is his favorite part of his job.
"It's a pretty organic news environment, and you can pitch the stories you want to do," Miller said. "I feel really blessed to be in a role like this so early in my career."
He uses the skills he developed as a student and active participant in TV2, Kent State's student-operated campus television station. Part of Miller's responsibility as a TODAY Show reporter is pitching story ideas to the show's producers on a regular basis.
"I use the same skills that Karl Idsvoog taught me when I pitch stories at TODAY," Miller said. "We're in a big conference room with all of our producers and editors of the site. I have to make a case for my story."
Miller has produced numerous stories for the TODAY Show website. One of the topics he works on is finance, where he is able to take viewers' questions and interview professionals to have them answered.
Even though he has been working at NBC for two years now, he is still thankful for the opportunity he has been given."I was doing a story on ice cream, and I was getting paid to taste and try ice cream all day," Miller said. "I have those moments when I can't believe that this is what I get to do this early in my career."
Alumna Uses Second Language to Succeed in Career
By Nicole Gennarelli
On a whim, Katie Cunningham started working at a library near her apartment because it seemed like fun. Once she started working, this fun-filled job sparked an interest in her that has become a rewarding career.
Cunningham, M.L.I.S '09, originally from Blue Rock, Ohio, completed her undergraduate degree at Capital University where she majored in psychology and minored in philosophy and Spanish. She also studied abroad twice — once in the summer of '01 at Universidad Castilla la Mancha in Toledo, Spain and spring semester of '04 at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland. She then received a Master of Library and Information Science in 2009, attending the Columbus site of Kent State's School of Library and Information Science.
"It's just turned out that I've used Spanish in all of my jobs since college," she said. "My speaking skills are constantly improving through working with people in Spanish every day."
Cunningham is currently the Children's Librarian at the bilingual Village Branch of the Lexington Public Library in Lexington, Ky. When she began working in libraries, she instantly knew this was the profession she wanted to pursue.
"I was amazed by the work being done by modern libraries, particularly in urban neighborhoods, providing homework help, free lunch, adult education opportunities, early literacy training for parents of preschool children and other services that meet real community needs," she said. "In addition, my Spanish language skills were clearly needed. The growing Latino community is often underserved by libraries that lack the bilingual/bicultural staff that can help make the connection between the community and the library. This particular area of library service is what made me choose to pursue my MLIS."
While pursuing her master's at Kent State University, Cunningham took a workshop on Web 2.0 tools for librarians which inspired her to start a blog about bilingual story time programming.
"There are many websites, blogs and online resources for finding story time ideas and information, but few for those focusing on Spanish and/or bilingual programs," she said. "On my blog, '¡Es divertido hablar dos idiomas!,' I share story time ideas, book reviews, translations of rhymes and songs, flannel patterns and storytelling scripts, and anything else that seems like it would be useful for library staff, teachers or parents offering bilingual programs or raising bilingual children."
Cunningham has also been appointed to the 2013 Pura Belpré committee that will select the 2013 award and honor winners. According to the American Library Association's website, "The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate."
"As a member of this committee, I will be privately reviewing books within the committee throughout the year that are written and/or illustrated by Latino authors and illustrators," she said. "I will help select the award and honor recipients. Being appointed to this committee is a tremendous honor and a personal dream come true. It's also a huge responsibility that I take very seriously. I am thrilled to have been appointed."
In addition to Cunningham's other achievements, she has developed an online training course for the Library of Virginia titled "Connecting with Your Spanish-Speaking Community: Everything you need to know before offering a bilingual story time."
"Often in libraries that are noticing growing Spanish-speaking communities, there is a difficulty in connecting," she said. "The library may have special programs or collections targeting the Latino community, but they may not be getting the return on investment that they had hoped for. This course will teach participants how to reach out and form a real connection between the Latino community and the library. I will begin teaching the course this February."
The best advice Cunningham can give to people pursuing careers in library science is to get professionally involved. Joining professional organizations and attending conferences as a student are great ways to develop a professional network of colleagues who can offer you guidance along your career path, she said."I am so grateful that I became a student member of ALA and Reforma while studying for my MLIS," Cunningham said. "Also, find a mentor you can really connect with. There will be frustrations, questions and hard decisions in any career and a great mentor will listen and ask the right questions that help. Our profession is changing in drastic ways, and we need innovators with fresh ideas to keep us ahead of the curve. Don't let the constant "shushing" jokes wear you down; librarianship is an ever-changing and exciting profession to be a part of."
Alumna Finds Success Down Under
By Nicole Gennarelli
After spending time in Sydney, Australia last summer, Brianne Kimmel decided to make the city her home by accepting an advertising position after graduation
Kimmel, '11, graduated with a degree in advertising and marketing minor from Kent State University. Kimmel got the job in Sydney through networking on LinkedIn. She is a member of the Sydney Social Media Club and started contributing content with hopes of building a network in Australia.
"I began chatting with my current boss, Phil before I even graduated from Kent State," she said. "Phil started Apparent a few years ago after spending 20 years in the industry. I actually had a few job offers in Sydney, some were hard to pass up, but Apparent was just a great fit. I love their model, strategies and clients. Upon arriving in Sydney, I met Phil for coffee and he had an account executive role that needed filled quickly. I flew to New Zealand within a few days to transfer my holiday visa to a work visa, and I've been working at Apparent ever since."
Kimmel is currently working on a project with New South Wales Health. She also was recently promoted to account executive/digital strategist for Nikon. Australia is very passionate about fighting obesity and encouraging healthy eating along with lifestyles.
"We now have a carbon tax to fight pollution, and Sydney is one of the cleanest cities in the world," she said. "Starting in February 2012, we will be posting kilojoules (calories) on menus in all of our franchise restaurants, cafes and local eateries."
Kimmel said it's been quite easy to settle into the Sydney lifestyle and find her way around because she's spent time there before.
"Starting my first "big girl job" in the city has been challenging at times, as with any country, there are many cultural differences," she said. "Not to mention I had to brush up on my British English spellings and metric conversions. Sydney is such a safe and progressive city, not to mention we are surrounded by beautiful beaches, I couldn't image starting my career anywhere else."
Kent State has really prepared her for a career in agency advertising. Kent State has such a well-rounded advertising program, and gives you an opportunity to learn about each aspect of an advertising agency, said Kimmel.
"I've met others in advertising through networking events and interviews, and many have commented on how well I've been prepared for the industry," she said. "It's such a relief to walk into interviews or professional settings and be able to contribute content and "hold your own" in any setting."
JMC Alumnus Starts Own Radio Show
By Nicole Gennarelli
Greg Hallaman,'79, currently hosts, produces and sells advertising for "The Greg Hallaman Show" on 1010XL, WJXL-AM radio, the ESPN Radio affiliate for the North Florida region, in Jacksonville, Fla. and on the internet at 1010XL.com.
Hallaman, originally from Youngstown, graduated from Kent State with a degree in Fine and Professional Arts in Telecommunications. He was a member of the Honors College. Since then, he has held many different positions from being the Detroit Red Wings feature and staff writer for Inside Hockeytown magazine to a professional hockey broadcaster/public relations director in Indiana, Kansas and New York.
Hallaman's new radio shows made its debut Aug. 9 and runs from 9 to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. He is also a broadcaster and marketing director for Media Rapid Sports, a company that promotes student athletes via individualized websites, and also by streaming live sports events, for which Hallaman does the play-by-play.
"It's a 'pay-to-play' situation down here, so once you convince the station executives that you have the background and talent to be on the air, which I was able to do with CDs and DVDs from my past positions in sports, plus my resume, you negotiate air time at a price, and then go about selling commercial time within the show that you own," Hallaman said. "I'm hoping that Kent State alumni who may work for companies with a presence in the North Florida region would have an interest in advertising on the show, or anyone who has a book to promote, services to offer, goods to sell, a cause that needs attention or a website that needs traffic."
Media Rapid Sports is the best vehicle to help student athletes advance to the next level of competition or receive consideration to play on a college scholarship, Hallaman said.
"The days of sending a highlight video to a coach and having it collect dust on a shelf are gone," he said. "Our student athlete websites offer the ability to show kids playing their sport, statistics, news coverage, biography, resume and, if desired, interviews with the athlete and/or coaches. We shoot game footage and cover entire leagues, so to anyone who represents youth sports organizations and would like to provide the next level of service to all the parents and kids, an affiliation with Media Rapids Sports may provide all the answers."
As electronic and automated as the world is and continually becomes, there will always be a need for, and value in, the written word, Hallaman said.
"I guess I would say that if you can write and you're good at it, be true to that and keep cultivating it, because the number of adults in society who can put together good sentences, let alone paragraphs, is diminishing by the day," he said. "Whatever direction young people are going in this industry, I'd say be versatile, be informed, don't be shy about promoting yourself, and don't let yourself get lazy or content. The Kent State experience was extremely instrumental in paving my way professionally and personally."
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JMC Alumnus Recognized for Investigative ReportingBy Emily Carle
In the fields of journalism and the arts, the Pulitzer Prize stands as one of the highest accomplishments for a professional as it is awarded annually to the top works in newspaper, online journalism, literature and musical composition. For Kent State alumnus Sam Roe, a Pulitzer nomination would be a great accomplishment, but now Roe has been part of three recognized teams.
Most recently in April 2011, Roe and Jared S. Hopkins of the Chicago Tribune were finalists in Investigative Reporting "for their investigation, in print and online, of 13 deaths at a home for severely disabled children and young adults, resulting in a state effort to close the facility."
A '83 JMC graduate, Roe has had a successful career as an investigative reporter over the past 25 years. After receiving a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in 1986, he went to work for his hometown newspaper, the Toledo Blade in Toledo.
During the next 14 years, Roe grew as an investigative reporter and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting in 2000 "for a series of articles that cited a 50-year pattern of misconduct by the American government and the beryllium industry in the production of metal used in nuclear bombs, which resulted in death and injury to dozens of workers, leading to government investigations and safety reforms."
Shortly after, he began working for the Chicago Tribune, again in investigative journalism. In 2008, Roe was part of a team of Chicago Tribune reporters who won the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting "for its exposure of faulty governmental regulation of toys, car seats and cribs, resulting in the extensive recall of hazardous products and congressional action to tighten supervision."
Roe attributes his drive and determination necessary for a career in journalism to his time spent at Kent State. Specifically, he recognizes three things that impacted him as a journalist: first, "the wonderful faculty- Evan Smith, Bruce Larrick, Fred Endres, Ph.D., and Judy Myrick. They were great teachers. [They were] patient and kind people, too.
"Secondly, the students I worked with at the Daily Kent Stater were impressive and hard working," Roe said. "I was awestruck by how many hours they put in, some working around the clock. I didn't know a lot of people who devoted that much time to something they cared about; it was intimidating and inspiring."
Lastly, Roe adds that the events of May 4, 1970, though it happened before his time at Kent State, left a profound impact on him.
"I was a freshman in 1978 and journalism was in Taylor Hall at the time. The Daily Kent Stater office looked over the Commons and looked at the scene where the May 4 events took place. I would walk right by where students fell; it was really haunting."
The one lesson he took from May 4 was "you should always question authority and not accept the first answer you get. It reinforced the idea to keep searching for truth," he said.
Outside of the classroom, Roe learned from his experiences at the Stater and through May 4, but inside the classroom, he learned the basics of being a journalist that Roe confirms still apply today.
"I don't think the essence of journalism has changed much in the last 30 years since I was there," Roe said. "The keys of journalism today are the same as they were back then: you need a good idea, then master the topic, ask the right questions and hold the people in power accountable." Roe goes on to add that "if you can do these four things well, you're set."
The key that stuck with Roe over the years was the idea to hold authority and the people in power accountable and it is what drives his success today. "Though it is a bittersweet area to work in, the end goal can be incredibly rewarding," he said. Specifically, his work on a story about Alden Village North Nursing Home in Chicago was difficult.
It was tough story to work on for a long period of time, but there is now new legislation introduced that would protect people with developmental disabilities, like those children and young adults in Alden Village.
His goal: "find things that are bad and fix them."
With many experiences and opportunities for success in his life, Roe offers advice for new and future journalists:
"Read a lot, all the publications that were stellar when I was a student are still stellar, such as The New York Times, The New Yorker and National Geographic. Learn as much about the world as possible. Travel, learn about different cultures and people; it makes you a much better journalist. Don't get too enamored with machinery."
Roe goes on to explain that "journalism hasn't changed much. There's always new technology, but don't get too wrapped up in that." He teaches investigative reporting at Columbia College Chicago and said, "my best students have a firm grounding in the basics; that other stuff isn't as important."
As a final word of wisdom for all students worried about jobs, "Relax, it'll all work out; it always does. Don't spend your time worrying; it will all fall into place."
Journalism Gives Writer a Musical Life
By Brianne Kimmel, '11A 1978 Kent State JMC graduate and music and entertainment writer, Larry Rodgers asks rock legends like Jon Bon Jovi and Alice Cooper the tough questions.
A music writer for The Arizona Republic since 2000, Rodgers spends his work week interviewing musicians, reviewing concerts and album releases and covering other entertainment-related news.
Rodgers credits his success in journalism to his experiences with The Daily Kent Stater. During his senior year, Rodgers served as the entertainment editor, which later played a large role in his success.
"I still tell anyone who asks, getting involved with student media is incredibly valuable," he said.
After interning with the Tribune Chronicle in Warren, OH, Rodgers continued his career at the newspaper after graduation. Rodgers decided he could use a warmer climate after his ninth Ohio winter in 1983.
Rodgers began at The Arizona Republic as a news copy editor where he would write sporadic music reviews. As Rodgers moved up in rank, reorganization at the newspaper in 2000 led to a full-time music-writing position.
Rodgers became the national pop music writer and began covering a wide range of genres from country to hip-hop to his favorite, rock n' roll.
As a music writer, Rodgers has seen it all. "I've been fortunate to attend hundreds of concerts and interview some of the largest names in music," he said.
Rodgers has interviewed rock legends like David Bowie, Ringo Starr, Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Tom Petty, Yoko Ono, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, Kiss' Gene Simmons, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Jack Johnson, AC/DC's Angus Young, Jack White, Mariah Carey, Usher and many more.
Although his career is always entertaining, Rodgers still has a few most memorable moments.
"Watching the Rolling Stones in New York City set up everything from production, dressing rooms and their stage from start to finish was a career highlight," Rodgers said.
Rodgers believes "anytime you interview stars, you'll have stories to tell." From a one-hour phone conversation with Bon Jovi, who was killing time in Tokyo, to Phoenix resident Alice Cooper sharing his story like a regular "blue-collar guy," Rodgers enjoys asking rock stars anything but "the typical, surface-level questions," he said.
As a musician, Rodgers can ask more technical and insightful questions. "I play and sing, so hopefully I can ask questions that musicians can relate to," Rodgers said.
Rodgers' stories are featured in nearly 100 papers nationwide through the Gannett News Service and two of his worldwide entertainment scoops have been featured internationally.
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Alumna Opens Law Library in KabulBy Nicole Gennarelli
Andrea Muto, 1996 School of Library and Information Science graduate, never imagined a career in librarianship would take her to Kabul, Afghanistan, to build a law library in 2007.
Muto, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University, was a reporter for two years before studying law at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. After clerking for a judge and working briefly as an associate for a small Cleveland law firm, she was looking for something else in the professional world.
"I happened to go back to my law school library and talked with one of my former law librarians," Muto said. "She mentioned to me there was a library school at Kent State University. She asked me if I ever considered librarianship as a career, and I told her absolutely not."
Muto started in the School of Library and Information Science in '95 and graduated in '96. After graduation, she joined the legal, news and public records information provider LexisNexis, working with a special team serving only the vendor's library and information professional customers. The position included training law firm and law school librarians to search LexisNexis databases, available at the time only through dial-up software. Later, she assumed a position with LexisNexis in Washington, D.C., working with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office customers. By that time, LexisNexis databases had migrated to the Web, so Muto could assist customers not only with accessing legal, news and public records content, but also with designing their own user interfaces.
"I had always wanted to work in some type of international position," Muto said. "At the time, working in law didn't have to be related to law or librarianship, but I knew I wanted to work overseas."
Muto applied to a Washington, D.C., consulting company for a position in Afghanistan and left for Kabul in February 2007. The USAID-funded project focused on working with the Afghan Supreme Court and Ministry of Justice. Muto managed a staff of 28 Afghan workers to organize and codify select criminal, civil and commercial Afghanistan laws. While in Kabul, an opportunity arose to work with an Italian law project to create a law library on the Kabul University campus. The Italian project had constructed a training center for use by the Supreme Court, Attorney General's Office and Ministry of Justice legal professionals. The building had space set aside for a library, which did not contain one book.
"The project involved working out an agreement with the Afghan ministries so that we could develop training programs and a library that supported those training programs," Muto said. "Our library was to be a full-service law library with an acquisitions plan, online catalog and a staff that was trained in reference services and bibliographic tools."
One issue in the development of the library was trying to identify individuals qualified to fill staff positions. Muto was looking for staff with a mix of ethnic, linguistic and legal backgrounds in a country just emerging from 30 years of war and Taliban rule. Another problem was the lack of consistent electricity and heat, which made keeping the lights on in the library a challenge and provided only sporadic Internet access.
Muto's staff traveled all over Afghanistan to collect secondary law materials that had been written by legal professionals. Their current project published the official laws for the first time, organized them by subject area, and wrote an index that was later translated into Dari and Pashto, the official languages of Afghanistan. There was also a significant selection of Islamic law that needed to be acquired from Pakistan.
"I sent one of my staff members who had studied Sharia law and is fluent in Arabic to Pakistan for a three-week book buying spree," Muto said. "He came back with loads of books, so we ended up with a significant collection of Islamic law."
Muto is now back in Washington, D.C., and will travel mid-April to Pristina, Kosovo. She will work at the law school there, with another USAID-funded project. The new assignment is short-term and includes assisting library staff in development of an international and foreign commercial law collection.
"Perhaps you may not see librarianship in a position description, but you may be able to weave other pieces of your background into librarianship," Muto said. "It works into a position that may not appear to deal with library and information science, but you can mold it in that direction yourself."
The new library staff pose for a photo at the law library of the Independent National Legal Training Center in spring 2008. They are (from right to left) Jan Agha, reference librarian; Massoud, (library clerk); Amiri (library director); and Zakia (library clerk). Massoud later moved on to library director, and earned a stipend from the American Association of Law Libraries to attend the annual meeting in Washington, DC in July 2009. He still works for the USAID's formal justice rule of law project in Kabul, developing law libraries throughout the country. Jan Agha works today in the library of the Afghan Elections Commission.
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