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School of Journalism & Media Studies Hosts Grad Gala

May 15, 2017

School of Journalism & Media Studies Hosts Grad Gala

by Carolina Martinez

In the midst of senior presentations, applying for grad-school programs and preparing for one last set of finals, there doesn’t seem to be any time left for celebrating accomplishments until graduation day itself. But the School of Journalism and Media Studies likes to do things a little differently.

It hosted Graduation Gala, previously known as Senior Send-off, on Monday, May 1, to celebrate graduates, award students graduating with academic honors, recognize the military Public Affairs Officers in the graduate program who earned professional certification, and give past and present SJMS grads the opportunity to network with each other.

The program began with a networking hour at 5:30 p.m. in Montezuma Hall. Guests were invited to take photos in a photo booth and mingle with SJMS faculty and staff, as well as alumni and community members.

When doors opened, everyone found their seats and Dr. Amy Schmitz-Weiss, SJMS associate professor, welcomed the group.

To begin the formal program, SJMS recognized five present PAOs for their dedication and commitment to public affairs. They graduate from San Diego State with a Master of Arts degree in Communication with a specialization in Mass Communication and Media Studies. In addition, they earned the Accredited in Public Relations designation, which is a professional achievement of distinction.

Kaye Sweetser and PAO Officers
Public Affairs Officers with Professor Kaye Sweetser.

Dr. Noah Arceneaux, SJMS associate professor, announced the outstanding graduates from each of the School’s disciplines, and several undergraduates were inducted into the Kappa Tau Alpha honor society. Furthermore, the School recognized students who had been invited to membership in Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society.

“It felt great being recognized for my academic achievement and I’m really proud of my accomplishment,” said Melissa Artobello, Phi Beta Kappa invitee.

The program transitioned to Professor Nicole Vargas, SJMS internship coordinator, who announced the first half of the undergraduate seniors in attendance. She read brief bios about the students, including how they were involved at state, where they interned or after-graduation plans.

The program continued with announcing the scholarship winners from the past academic year. These scholarships recognized students for excelling academically, overcoming adversity and interning in a particular journalism niche.

The program took a short break for dinner, then Dr. Nate Rodriguez presented the second half of the undergraduate seniors being recognized.

The SJMS class of 2017 formally graduated on May 14 in Viejas Arena with the rest of the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts.

Event photos were taken by Melissa Jacobs, the event album can be found at To find out more about SJMS, go to

Outstanding SJMS Graduate Quinn Owen. Photo by Melissa Jacobs.
Journalism Grads Journalism graduates with Professor Nicole Vargas. Photo by Melissa Jacobs.
Scholarship students
2016-2017 Scholarship Recipients. Photo by Melissa Jacobs.