Winners of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award offer advice for success

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

If you walked around BU’s campus this past week, you probably noticed the numerous events being hosted for BU Alumni, faculty, staff and students. BU was smart in planning these events at a time when new grads were settling in and most likely thinking about where their degree might take them. These events were designed to provide networking opportunities, teach and inspire; after attending COM’s Distinguished Alumni Awards, I can personally say, BU’s mission was accomplished.

2014 Distinguished Alumni from L-R: Cleveland O’Neal III (COM ’78), Cynthia Cordes (COM ’01), Will Lautzenheiser (CAS ’96, COM ’07) and Bill Simmons (COM ’93). Photo, Katherine Taylor. — with Cleveland O’Neal, Cynthia Phillips Cordes, William Lautzenheiser and Bill Simmons at Boston University College of Communication (BU COM).

At the event, celebrated on Thursday at the School of Management, COM students and faculty were actively interacting with the alumni over tasty hors d’oeuvres and drinks. This year, COM honoured four of its alumni- – Cleveland O’Neal III, Cynthia Cordes, Bill Simmons and Will Lautzenheiser. Each of them had accomplished something from which we learned.

Cleveland O’Neal (COM ‘78), the first African American to produce a show on CBS, started out as an actor. While working on the CBS series, he built his own Emmy-nominated entertainment company, Connection III, from ground up. “Work hard” was his advice to students.
One step at a time.

Cynthia Cordes (COM ‘01) went from studying Journalism at COM to studying Law at Notre Dame. This year she featured on a national list of Top 250 Women in Litigation selected by Benchmark Litigation. She began her career with the U.S Department of of Justice where she led a task force on human trafficking. Now a partner at Husch Blackwell, she continues her anti-human trafficking efforts through the company’s Human Trafficking Legal Clinic, the first of its kind in the United States.
Be passionate about your work.

Bill Simmons (COM ‘97) is a name most American sports fans identify. He graduated with a degree in print journalism from COM but foresaw the potential of the internet even when his dad tried persuading him to stick to traditional print media. His blog The Sports Guy caught the attention of ESPN who hired him in 2001. Since then, he’s gone on to become the editor-in-chief of Grantland.com.
Trust your instincts.

Will Lautzenheiser (COM ‘07) was a student like one of us; he was fascinated by the Charles River and wanted to make a film about it. However, three years ago he lost his arms and legs to a deadly bacteria. At the event on Thursday, we watched his short documentary, Stumped, in which he featured and wrote. It tells the story of how he got used to his prosthetic legs and how he is now a stand-up, or sit-down comedian as he calls himself.
Life will give you lemons.

This BU alumni event was indeed a great way to begin the semester. It reminded us that hard work is the only way to success, and that we must make the most of networking opportunities.
Stay focused. Stay Inspired.

COM Talks comes to BU

By Keiko Talley
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

When preparing for the real world, the one phrase that has been etched into my mind is “it’s all about who you know”. It’s a saying that gets old after hearing it for a while, yet it seems to be true in so many ways. One thing that I have learned is that networking is the key to a successful career. One of the perks of going to Boston University is the members or alumni of the school that can help you get a job when you’re ready. The professors are always willing to help and the alumni don’t stay away for too long, as they are always giving back to the place that gave their careers life.

This, as a graduate student starting to look for jobs, gives me hope for my future. I’ve only been here for a few weeks, but it is clear that BU prides itself on creating unique and enjoyable opportunities for students to meet new people and network with alumni and professors, in order to help jump start their career. One of those many opportunities is taking place this weekend at BU’s COM100 Celebrations and Alumni event.

Over the past couple of years, inspirational speeches such as TED Talks, have become a new phenomenon designed to disseminate powerful messages and ideas to the public. The topics of these talks vary anywhere from how to manage your stress to being a model. Interesting people with diverse backgrounds have participated, including Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Malcolm Gladwell and Jane Goodall.

Of course BU’s College of Communication (COM) couldn’t ignore this educational trend, so they have brought the idea to COM, with COM Talks. This Saturday, September 20th, COM alums as well as current professors will prepare 6-10 minute talks on a topic relevant to their field. Speakers include Co-Host of NPR’s Here & Now, Jeremy Hobson, Co-Host of The MOMS on SiriusXM, Denise Albert, 2014 Lawyer of the Year thanks to her dedication and advocacy to fight human trafficking, Cynthia Cordes, Senior VP of HBO, Jay Roewe, motivational speaker and former BU hockey player, Travis Roy, and current professors and authors Richard Lehr and Mitchell Zuckoff.

COM Talks, which is free to the public, will be held on Saturday, September 20th from 3-6 p.m. at the College of Communication in room 101. After the talks, all are welcomed to fun and food on the lawn where you can network with amazing people in various fields doing a variety of different work. OH, AND THERE WILL BE FREE (a grad student’s favorite word) ICE CREAM!!!

So, come listen to interesting, successful people talk about their work and get some great insight on “the real world.” I mean, come on, I think homework can wait while we spend a few hours on our futures and stomachs.

Founder, Owner & CEO of LA entertainment company honored by BU

By Iris Moore
MS Broadcast Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

At Boston University’s College of Communication (COM), the beginning of a new semester also means the start to another year filled with exciting events for faculty and staff. Yes, it is important to get your schedule right and books bought, but it’s also important you are made aware of the once-a-year, beneficial networking events happening right now.

This Thursday, September 18th at 5:30 p.m., the College of Communication (COM) is hosting the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards at the School of Management. The event, which is free and open to the public, will honor some of COM’s most accomplished alumni. Previous alumni recipients who have attended the event include: – Co-Host of Market Place Morning Report and American Public Media, Jeremy C. Hobson (‘04) – White House Photographer, Peter J. Souza (’76), – Bravo’s Executive Vice President of Development & Talent, Andy Cohen (’90). The list goes on. If you have time, check it out here.

This year, you may get the opportunity to network with the BU COM alum who was the first African American to produce a CBS Schoolbreak Special. Yup, that’s right, Cleveland O’Neal III (COM ’78) is one of the four COM alums being honored at this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards for his impressive accomplishments in the entertainment industry.

hollywoodreporter.com

O’Neal began his career at a young age when he was a child actor at the Cleveland Playhouse in Ohio, which is one of the League of Resident Theaters. During his undergraduate studies at Boston University’s College of Communication, O’Neal began planning what would become his privately held company Connection III Entertainment Corp.— producer of the weekly TV series “Made in Hollywood,” “Made in Hollywood: Teen Edition and “Live, Life and Win!”

As Founder, President, and CEO of the company, O’Neal has brought diversity across a variety of media platforms, including music, television and motion pictures. Connection III has received two Emmy nominations and was the recipient of the “Arts and Entertainment Company of the Year” Award from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa.

Watch O’Neal’s interview with TVWeek reporter Andrew Krukowski to learn more about his TV series franchise, “Made in Hollywood”, that has a gross average audience of 5.2 million viewers.

So, make sure you join the BU COM community on Thursday night as we raise our glasses and toast Cleveland O’Neal III for his impressive career in the entertainment industry (yes, that’s right, an open bar and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served). Go here to find out more or sign up for the event.

Quad amputee and filmmaker: Will Lautzenheiser to be honored at Distinguished Alumni Awards

By Iris Moore
MS Broadcast Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

At Boston University’s College of Communication (COM), the beginning of a new semester also means the start to another year filled with exciting events for faculty and staff. Yes, it is important to get your schedule right and books bought, but it’s also important you are made aware of the once-a-year, beneficial networking events happening right now.

This Thursday, September 18th at 5:30 p.m., the College of Communication (COM) is hosting the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards at the School of Management. The event, which is free and open to the public, will honor some of COM’s most accomplished alumni. Previous alumni recipients who have attended the event include: – Co-Host of Market Place Morning Report and American Public Media, Jeremy C. Hobson (‘04) – White House Photographer, Peter J. Souza (’76), – Bravo’s Executive Vice President of Development & Talent, Andy Cohen (’90). The list goes on. If you have time, check it out here.

This year, you may even be lucky enough to meet the BU COM alum who is making more than just movies, but medical history too. One of the four COM alums being honored at this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards is filmmaker Will Lautzenheiser (CAS’96, COM’07),  who lost both his arms and legs to a deadly bacteria, three years ago.

thegratefulwill.blogspot.com

Lautzenheiser completed his undergraduate studies at BU’s College of Arts and Sciences. Eventually, in 2005, he made the decision to return to BU for graduate school at the College of Communication. Lautzenheiser extended his stay at BU when he became a lecturer at COM in the fall of 2007. During this time, he produced and directed the short film Just Like It Was, which won a CINE Golden Eagle Award.

In the spring of 2011, Lautzenheiser left BU for a teaching job at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. Ten days after his move, Lautzenheiser’s fight for his life began. While doctors struggled to diagnose Lautzenheiser, his organs began to shut down. Eventually, he was diagnosed with streptococcal toxic shock syndrome,  a bacteria that causes vital organs to shut down and infection that quickly kills muscle, skin, and underlying tissue. Lautzenheiser underwent 16 surgeries that removed both of his arms and legs.

This past June, doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) approved Lautzenheiser for a bilateral arm transplant, a procedure that has been performed only a few times in the United States.

In an interview on WBUR’s Here & Now, Lautzenheiser talked about how he has been able to use stand-up comedy to help with the healing process. He has been able to use his incredible journey from over the past three years as material for his shows.

Lautzenheiser just completed writing and starring in the short-documentary, Stumped. Directed by Robin Berghaus, the film is about Lautzenheiser’s survival and rehabilitation as a quadrilateral amputee. It has been shown at multiple film festivals across the country and has received multiple awards, including “Best of the Fest” for audience’s favorite documentary at the Palm Springs International ShortFest. On November 6th, Emerson College will be airing Stumped at their Bright Light Series, as well as hosting a comedy set and Q&A with Lautzenheiser.

To learn more about Lautzenheiser’s story before seeing him on Thursday at BU COM’s Distinguished Alumni Event, check out these videos by BU Today producers Joe Chan and Robin Berghaus.

If you would like to make a donation to help Will on his road to recovery, please visit the Will Lautzenheiser Fund.

 

Cynthia Cordes: acclaimed human-trafficking prosecutor honored by BU

By Iris Moore
MS Broadcast Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

At Boston University’s College of Communication (COM), the beginning of a new semester also means the start to another year filled with exciting events for faculty and staff. Yes, it is important to get your schedule right and books bought, but it’s also important you are made aware of the once-a-year, beneficial networking events happening right now.

This Thursday, September 18th at 5:30 p.m., the College of Communication (COM) is hosting the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards at the School of Management. The event, which is free and open to the public, will honor some of COM’s most accomplished alumni. Previous alumni recipients who have attended the event include: – Co-Host of Market Place Morning Report and American Public Media, Jeremy C. Hobson (‘04) – White House Photographer, Peter J. Souza (’76), – Bravo’s Executive Vice President of Development & Talent, Andy Cohen (’90). The list goes on. If you have time, check it out here.

This year, you may have the chance to network with the BU COM alum who has prosecuted more human trafficking cases than any assistant U.S. attorney in the country. Yup, that’s right, Cynthia Cordes (COM ‘01) will be attending this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards, as she is one of the four COM alums being honored for her impressive professional accomplishments.

molawyersmedia.com

Cordes completed her undergraduate studies at Boston University where she received her B.S. in Journalism. Following, Cordes earned her J.D. at the University of Notre Dame. She began her legal career as a trial attorney with the U.S. Attorney General Honors Program. It did not take long before Cordes was recognized for her pioneering work as a federal prosecutor.

As an assistant U.S. attorney, she led multiple, ground-breaking human trafficking investigations and prosecutions. In 2014, Cordes was named Lawyer of the Year by Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly and selected nationally in the Top 250 Women in Litigation by Benchmark Litigation.

Currently, Cordes is a partner at Husch Blackwell in Kansas City. Although she is no longer a prosecutor, she is still actively involved in the fight against human trafficking.

So, join your COM community as we enjoy an open bar and hors d’oeuvres in celebration of these alums’ accomplishments. For more information visit the Alumni Weekend page.