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Three Reasons to Study Journalism at UConn

There are plenty of reasons why you should study journalism at the University of Connecticut. We asked a dozen of our alumni to tell us why earning a UConn Journalism degree was a great decision.


Glenn Smith ’87

Glenn Smith
Watchdog/Public Service Editor, The Post and Courier
Charleston, SC
Class of 1987, Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize

1. Journalism remains a critically important craft in our society and a crucial backstop to democracy. UConn’s veteran team of instructors offers students a wealth of hands-on experience and keen knowledge of today’s trends, tools and possibilities.

2. Journalists have the privilege of working a profession where they can truly make a difference in people’s lives. UConn produces solid reporters and gifted writers with the skills necessary to hold public officials accountable, expose wrongdoings and shed light on pressing issues that affect us all.

3. Are you a curious person? Journalism is a profession in which you get paid to talk to interesting people and learn something new every day. A UConn diploma in journalism is like a golden ticket, an international passport to pursue your craft wherever your interests might take you.

 


Purbita Saha ’12

Purbita Saha
Senior Editor, Popular Science
New York, NY
Class of 2012

1. For the stories you’ll hear: From professors who’ve covered genocide in Sarajevo to those who’ve moonlighted as Sherlock Holmes novelists, the UConn Journalism department is led by a well-storied staff that spans time, mediums and expertise.

2. For the lessons you’ll carry through your career: Some of the advice you’ll glean in your classes, whether it be during an ethics discussion or an environmental journalism trip, may not make a deep impression in the moment. But as you put your skills to work in the real world, you’ll find yourself calling back the gems of wisdom that your UConn professors shared.

3. For the friends who’ll help you hit your ambitions: My journalism network still largely depends on the people I met at UConn. Between Daily Campus colleagues, classmates and retired and current professors, I have a solid web of contacts to talk shop and expand my knowledge of the industry with. I may have graduated six years ago, but I still continue to learn from UConn to this day.


Jackson Mitchell ’16

Jackson Mitchell
Digital Audio Editor, WBUR-FM, Boston’s National Public Radio station
Boston, MA 

Class of 2016

1. Journalism skills are life skills: talking to people, being understanding and empathetic, listening and presenting information in a clear and compelling way. You will never regret being good at these things.

2. Being in journalism is a thrilling way to observe the world around you. It has given me a life vantage point that I value immensely. I am never bored.

3. There are few careers where you can go to work every day and honestly feel like you are serving the public interest. That feels really good.

 


Kala Kachmar ’09

Kala Kachmar
Investigative Reporter, Courier-Journal
Louisville, KY
Class of 2009

1. The faculty that make up UConn’s journalism department is incredible. Not only are they current or retired journalism professionals, but many will go out of their way to help students establish connections that often lead to internship and job opportunities. Classes are small, so it’s easy to feel connected to the professors, other students and resources, of which there are plenty.

2. The diverse curriculum helped me develop well-rounded skills that have contributed significantly my versatility as a reporter. As a student when news consumption shifted significantly, professors encouraged us to embrace technology and learn different journalism disciplines. Versatile is valuable. UConn taught me the importance of that.

3. The courses actually teach you how to be a reporter, and the program overall taught me what I needed to know to be successful in the field. We had to write stories on deadline. We couldn’t misspell names. We were held to professional standards.

 


Melanie Deziel ’12

Melanie Deziel
Founder of StoryFuel
New York, NY

Class of 2012

1. The investigative skills I learned as a UConn Journalism student set me up for a lifetime of digging deeper, asking more pointed questions and telling better stories. 

2. Studying journalism at UConn taught me the importance of deadlines and being open to feedback, skills I use daily in my work as a content marketer. 

3. I can trace my entire career back to a UConn Journalism professor who first helped me discover my love of storytelling, and another who encouraged me to write for the Daily Campus.

 


Eric Ferreri ’95

Eric Ferreri
Senior Writer, Duke University Office of News & Communications
Durham, NC
Class of 1995

1.  Journalism is more important than ever. Asking questions is critical, as is helping people understand “fake news” is a fake term.

2. At UConn, the entire community will be your laboratory. There’s nothing abstract about the curriculum; it’s a real-world experience every step of the way.

3. You’ll eventually do something called Sudden Death. You’ll hate it before you love it, but you’ll learn a ton from it as well. 

 


Karla Santos ’17

Karla Santos
Business and Arts Reporter, New Britain Herald
New Britain, CT
Class of 2017

1. UConn’s journalism professors and advisors are always willing to help and they always make sure students understand the topic of discussion.

2. The journalism facilities at UConn have top-of-the-line equipment and classrooms that are set up for easy interaction between students and teachers.

3. Journalism at UConn is learned by doing and not just by sitting and listening. Students are often given assignments that reflect the same assignments one would be given when working as a journalist.

 


Simmi Buttar ’95

Simmi Buttar
NFL Editor, Associated Press 
New York, NY
Class of 1995

1. If you do go into journalism, no matter what type (print, TV, radio, online etc.), the skills you learn will translate.

2. Even if you don’t go into journalism, the skills you learn will be invaluable in other fields.

3. Because good journalism is important. And we need more good journalists now more than ever.

 


Hannah Dickison ’18

Hannah Dickison
Investigative Producer, WPRI-TV
Providence, RI

Class of 2018

1. Great education with an even better price tag. When I was looking at colleges, I knew I wanted a high-quality education, but didn’t want to be overloaded with debt like I would have if I had gone to a school like Syracuse or Emerson. Fortunately I’m from Connecticut, so I was able to get in-state tuition and graduated with substantially less debt than my friends at other colleges. Even if you’re out-of-state, the cost truly doesn’t compare.

2. Accomplished professors. All of your professors will be award-winning journalists who are highly respected in their field. If you work hard and invest in your education, some will even become your mentors during and after college. All of my professors took me under their wings and were there for me not just academically, but professionally. I wouldn’t be where I am now without them and am grateful for my education every day.

3. Big university, small program. There’s no denying that UConn is a big school, but that’s not the case for the journalism program. The size of my classes were always small and close-knit. Everyone in the program knows each other, whether you take classes together or not. I think that’s something that’s very rare and special about such a high quality journalism program.

 


Kathleen McWilliams ’15

Kathleen McWilliams
Staff Writer, The Hartford Courant
Hartford, CT
Class of 2015

1. You get hands-on experience in class. UConn Journalism classes aren’t just theory; you actually write in-depth stories on deadline and get edits from your professors.

2. It’s fairly easy to double major with journalism and another subject. While demanding, the UConn Journalism program is flexible enough in the requirements that you can major in something else to flesh out your degree and give you valuable skills. For me, that meant double majoring in English, which helped my writing and research skills.

3. You learn from veteran journalists who are not only experts in the craft, but who know the Connecticut journalism world like the back of their hand.

 


Alyssa Bosley ’02

Alyssa Bosley
Lecturer and Social Media Coordinator, Hart School of Hospitality, Sport & Recreation Management, James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA
Class of 2002

1. The first-rate faculty have excellent academic and professional credentials. They are engaged with their students and provide the tools for success.

2. The program has strong connections with industry professionals and media outlets throughout the country.

3. The coursework allows students to think critically and it provides practical experience.

 


Sylvia Cunningham ’15

Sylvia Cunningham
Reporter/Associate Editor at KCRW Berlin
Berlin, Germany
Class of 2015

1. You’ll learn about journalism from professors who are journalists themselves. So whether it’s an ethical quandary, a confusing public record or a difficult source you’re facing, chances are your professor has been there and has some good advice.

2. You’ll be introduced to platforms and tools that make you a more dynamic storyteller. In one job interview post-graduation, I was presented with a published web story and asked how I would a) make it more interactive and visually appealing and b) push it out on social media. I incorporated what I learned from Online Journalism into my answer, and I landed the assignment. 

3. You’ll be taught the fundamentals of good reporting, like getting a second (and third…and fourth) source, considering all sides, and writing a strong lede. Often when approaching a story, I think back to my all-time favorites from Literary Journalism for inspiration (see Jimmy Breslin’s “It’s an Honor”). And because fact-checking and copy editing comprises at least half of my current job, the foundation built from UConn journalism courses is critical. Plus, the trusted adviser you meet in Newswriting I – your AP Stylebook – will never be far away.

Special thanks to Kate Farrish ’83 for collecting these interviews.

Q&A with WTNH News 8’s Teresa (LaBarbera) Dufour ’01

By Melisa Fink ’14

teresa-labarbera_4x6Teresa (LaBarbera) Dufour has held most jobs in a broadcast newsroom: reporter, producer, anchor and host. Dufour says each of her job experiences, beginning from when she was still a journalism student at the University of Connecticut, were invaluable steps leading her to the next opportunity.

Fun fact: On New Years Eve 2013, Teresa married businessman Brandon Dufour in a lavish affair at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT and changed her professional name from LaBarbera to Dufour.

In a Q&A, Dufour explained the arc of her career in journalism since graduating from UConn in 2001. Continue reading

Catching up with Award-Winning NYC Broadcast Journalist David Ushery ’89

By Melisa Fink ’14

David Ushery is both an anchor for the weekend editions of “News 4 New York” is the host and creator of “The Debrief with David Ushery.”
David Ushery is an anchor for the weekend editions of “News 4 New York” and is the host and creator of “The Debrief with David Ushery.” Photo via nbcnewyork.com.

After landing competitive internships at both The Hartford Courant and Los Angeles Times while studying journalism as an undergraduate at the University of Connecticut, David Ushery recognized his calling in the news business.

Ushery is now an Emmy-award winning news anchor at one of the leading news stations in New York City, WNBC-TV News 4.

“I treasured my time in the small journalism department,” Ushery said in a phone interview. “In fact, I went back recently to say thank you to Wayne Worcester, who was one of my instructors there. That foundation of print and writing has served me well in my career.” Continue reading

CT Law Tribune Web Editor Karen Ali (’88) Recalls Her ‘Sudden Death’ Lucky Break

By MELISA FINK ’14

Karen Ali, a 1998 UConn journalism Alum, currently works as the web editor at the Connecticut Law Tribune in Hartford (photo courtesy of Karen Ali)
Karen Ali, a 1988 UConn journalism alumna, currently works as the web editor at the Connecticut Law Tribune in Hartford. (Photo courtesy of Karen Ali)

Karen Ali, a 1988 University of Connecticut graduate, discovered her passion for journalism while writing for The Daily Campus. Ever since, she has immersed herself in the journalism world. After stints at the Waterbury Republican-American, The (Danbury) News-Times and Patch.com, Ali now works for the Connecticut Law Tribune in Hartford.

As the CT Law Tribune’s web editor, Ali manages the website, handles the social media accounts, writes and copy edits articles, and takes photographs.

Ali also keeps busy blogging for a wellness website and writing freelance pieces for an indie book reviewing company.

In an email interview, Ali recalls her experience at UConn as a positive one, including the nerve-wracking “sudden death” assignment all j-majors face. Continue reading

ESPN.com’s Justin Verrier ’09: ‘You’ll never be more valuable than you are right now’

By MELISA FINK ’14

“Read everything. If you don’t
read, you’re not a writer,” advises ’09 UConn grad and current ESPN.com NBA editor Justin Verrier. (Photo courtesy of Justin Verrier)

Justin Verrier graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2009 with a double major in Journalism and English. He currently serves as the contributing NBA editor for ESPN.com.

Verrier is responsible for organizing the National Basketball Association editorial content on the sports website while also contributing to blogs, columns and features. In the Q&A below, he talks about his job, his experience as an undergrad at UConn and his advice for aspiring sports journalists.

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An Interview with Talent Booker, Writer and UConn Alumna Ashley Papa ’05

By MELISA FINK ’14

Ashley Papa '05 serves as both a Guest Segment Producer and a writer for Fox News. (Photo Courtesy of Ashley Papa)
Ashley Papa ’05 serves as both a Guest Segment Producer and a writer for Fox News. (Photo Courtesy of Ashley Papa)

Ashley Papa works as the guest segment producer for “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson.” The live news show on at Fox News Channel covers topics ranging from general news to investigative reporting to politics. Papa books the various talents for on air commentary and does all the pre-interviews with the guests.

Papa also writes about nutrition, dating and relationships for Foxnews.com’s online feature magazine. She is a 2005 graduate of the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science.

In an email interview, Papa shared insight into her broadcast journalism job as a talent booker and how UConn helped to shape her career.

What is a typical work day like for you?
A typical, non-breaking news day looks like this:  I get in around 8 a.m. and leave around 4 p.m. However, I start checking the blackberry as soon as I get up.  When I get into the office, I meet with my production team and my anchor to go over the show rundown and guest segments for the day.  We talk about the topics we’re covering, I’ll do pre-interviews with them to get their point of view.  If it is a satellite interview, I have to coordinate ordering studios, wherever that may be.

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A Conversation with Hartford Business Journal Editor Greg Bordonaro ’08

By MELISA FINK ’14

Greg Bordonaro '08 was named editor of the Hartford Business Journal in June 2013.
Greg Bordonaro ’08 was named editor of the Hartford Business Journal in June 2013. He started his career at the Hartford Business Journal 5 years ago as a reporter. (Photo via hartfordbusiness.com)

Greg Bordonaro landed the top editorial job at the Hartford Business Journal in June 2013. Bordonaro is a graduate of the University of Connecticut who earned his degree in Journalism and History in 2008.

In his role as editor, he oversees the Hartford Business Journal’s award-winning weekly business-to-business newspaper, website and special sections.

Founded in 1992, the Hartford Business Journal serves 25,000+ readers in 61 towns in the Greater Hartford region. Its website – HartfordBusiness.com – is a regularly updated online hub of news and information, providing daily email alerts and a digital archive of articles.

Bordonaro, a West Hartford resident, recalled his experience as a UConn Journalism major in an email interview.

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7 Questions with Caitlin Emma ’11, Politico Pro Education Reporter

By MELISA FINK ’14

Caitlin Emma, a 2011 honors journalism and political science graduate, says UConn helped her pursue careers in the journalism field. (photo courtesy of Caitlin Emma)
Caitlin Emma, a 2011 honors journalism and political science graduate from Leominster, Mass., says UConn challenged her and lead her toward her career as a politics reporter. (Photo courtesy of Caitlin Emma)

As an education reporter at Politico Pro, Caitlin Emma gets to feed her passion for Washington D.C. politics and policy.

Emma, who graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2011 with degrees in journalism and political science, credits her UConn professors with nurturing her interest in politics and storytelling, and really pushing her toward her career goals.

What else has Emma accomplished and what advice does she have for current journalism students? In an email interview, she offered some highlights.

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Q and A with Mike Chiappetta ’95: Mixed Martial Arts Journalist

By MELISA FINK ’14

Michael Chiappetta
Mike Chiappetta, a 1995 UConn journalism graduate, established a successful sports writing career covering Mixed Martial Arts.(Photo courtesy of Michael Chiappetta)

Journalist Mike Chiappetta has carved out a successful career niche covering the full contact combat sport of mixed martial arts, specifically the UFC. He currently works as a senior writer for FOXSports.com.

Chiappetta earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Connecticut in 1995. “Fun fact: my diploma is signed by former Connecticut governor and convicted felon John Rowland,” Chiappetta wrote in an email interview.

Here are more of Chiappetta’s thoughts about his experience at UConn and the trajectory of his journalism career.

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A glimpse into UConn Journalism alumna Kala Kachmar’s post-grad life

By MELISA FINK ’14

Kala Kachmar, a 2009 UConn graduate, credits the journalism program for her success in the field.
Kala Kachmar, a 2009 UConn journalism graduate, works as a government reporter at the Montgomery Advertiser in Montgomery, AL. (Photo courtesy of Kala Kachmar)

Kala Kachmar, a 2009 graduate of the University of Connecticut graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science, along with a minor in history. She currently works as the city/county government reporter at the Montgomery Advertiser in Alabama.

Some of her previous jobs include working as a staff writer at The Chronicle in Willimantic, as a reporter at The Journal Inquirer in Manchester, and as a copy-editor, page designer, reporter at the Norwich Bulletin.   

Kachmar credits her curiosity about people and events going on around her for as her inspiration for majoring in journalism.

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