By Stephanie Wilson, journalism student
‘Call me Dave’JMS public relations senior and Navy Reservist Carlos Gomez was sitting in his Applied Research in Public Relations class when he heard a familiar, broadcast-sounding voice behind him.
Gomez last heard that voice four years ago aboard the USS George Washington in Japan, but he hadn’t forgotten it. The voice belonged to David Hecht, the public affairs officer with whom Gomez served while on active duty aboard the USS Washington.
Gomez said out of respect he addressed his former superior that day in class as “Sir,” but Hecht responded with three words Gomez didn’t expect: “Call me Dave.”
Gomez and Hecht aren’t spending their days working together in the military anymore, but instead are developing their public relations expertise in the School of Journalism & Media Studies’ nationally renowned public relations program. Gomez is seeking his bachelor’s in journalism with an emphasis in public relations and Hecht is seeking his master’s in mass communication and media studies with the JMS military public affairs graduate program.
Gomez served in the Navy for approximately eight years and is now a Navy Reservist. While on active duty, Gomez was a mass communications specialist, supporting the work of PAOs like Hecht by writing press releases, producing news packages and taking photos. While he liked reporting, he says he preferred the public relations aspects of his job.
Gomez plans to develop a career in public relations working for a major hip-hop record label. He continues to serve in the Navy as a Reservist.
Before becoming a Navy public affairs officer, Hecht was an Emmy award-winning journalist, working 15 years as a broadcast news anchor and reporter. He joined the Navy Reserve while working as a journalist and first came to San Diego in 2006 for a year to work as PAO by day and freelance reporter by night. At the end of his year, Hecht was offered a permanent active duty position with the Navy as a PAO and he proudly accepted.
Hecht is now in the 10-month, intensive PAO program in JMS, which he says has been “a humbling and eye-opening experience.”
“I am excited and rejuvenated about this field,” Hecht said.
What Veterans Day means to Gomez and HechtFor Gomez, Veterans Day means to honor the people who have been in combat and for those who are still are. For the last three years, Gomez and his group of Navy veteran friends get together. One year they even dressed up in their finest suits and spent the day going to their favorite spots around town.
“It could be years since we’ve last talked, but we always pick up right where we left off,” Gomez said.
Hecht says Veterans Day means the world to him.
“I think of guys like Carlos who have honor and distinction and they build a better life for themselves after they have served this country,” Hecht said.
Journalism senior continues proud family traditionAnna Conkey, a JMS senior majoring in journalism, is a third-generation U.S. military family member. She was even born on a U.S. Navy base in Japan where her father was stationed. Her father served in the Navy for 23 years and her grandfather served in the Marine Corps for approximately four years.
As an adult, Conkey served six years in the Navy as a mass communication specialist before becoming a veteran.
She is now a mother to a two-year-old daughter named MacKayla. Conkey says she wouldn’t force her daughter to join the military but says she would be proud if MacKalya chose to.
At SDSU, Conkey says she has learned a lot about the digital aspect of journalism in her courses.
“The professors are amazing,” Conkey said. “I learn something new every day.”
Conkey plans to have a career in investigative journalism after she graduates. She says she is looking forward to indulging in her own curiosity and following her own stories.