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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.

Bill Simmons to be honored at this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards

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

In graduate school, networking has become a term on which so much value has been placed. Whether it be at job fairs, via social media, or during a casual conversation on the T, your ability to recognize, create, and act upon business opportunities has become a determining factor for the success of your professional future. However, the skill of networking is only half the battle. You’ve heard it before, “it’s all about who you know,” and unfortunately, it’s true.

Thankfully, we are in graduate school; and, an advantage of being in graduate school at an institution like Boston University, is the numerous opportunities made available through the university, which can help you improve your networking skills and maximize your professional relationships and connections.

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.

Not only is there an open bar and heavy hors d’oeuvres, but you will have the opportunity to practice your networking skills with some of the most successful COM graduates. Why not check it out? I mean, who knows…. maybe you’ll end up talking to The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, who is one of this year’s Alumni Award recipients.


For those of you who don’t know, Bill Simmons is the Editor-in-Chief of Grantland.com, a sports and pop culture website owned by ESPN. He began his career working for the Boston Herald covering high-school sports and doing freelance work for the Boston Phoenix. While living and working in the Boston area, Simmons completed his M.S. in Journalism from Boston University.

After gaining notoriety from his online column, “Boston Sports Guy,” Simmons was hired to work as a writer on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Eventually, he was hired to write full-time for ESPN. This marked the beginning of Simmons’ unmatched, colorful career in the sports journalism world.

Simmons is considered one of the country’s most read sports writers. In 2007, he was named the 12th-most influential person in online sports by the Sports Business Journal. Simmons is also the author of The Book of Basketball, a New York Times No. 1 Bestseller. Even if you’re not a sports person, Simmons is definitely a highlight at this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Interested in signing up or finding out more about this event? Go here.