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Looking back at 2019: The 10 Top News Stories of the Year
As 2020 approaches, we take a look back at our top 10 most-read news articles of 2019. Of the 10, nine feature alumni, students, and faculty.
Looking back at 2019: The 10 op News Stories of the Year

What a rewarding year it’s been at SC&I! A review of the top 10 most-read articles SC&I wrote this year tells the story of the many exciting accomplishments our alumni, students, and faculty have worked hard for and earned.

However, the SC&I community also shared a devastating loss. Our beloved colleague of over 21 years, Part-Time Lecturer Jack Grasso, died in June, 2019. Many at SC&I were profoundly saddened by his death and will always continue to miss him.

A majority of the top 10 articles focus on SC&I’s noteworthy alumni. Interviews with Jon Harris ’90, Jessica Grothues Kurdali ’04, Zach Morrison ’14, and Gilah Rosenberg ’09 provide a treasure trove of inspiration. Profiles of undergraduates Steven Dezuniga ’20 and Allison Stubin ’18 showcase student achievements. Four new faculty members joined SC&I this year, and Professor of Practice Steve Miller was named a Loyal Son of Rutgers. In another triumph for the school and the faculty involved, the Master of Information program received continued reaccreditation through fall 2025 from the American Library Association’s Committee on Accreditation (ALA/COA).

Read on to discover and count down the most-read and exciting news from SC&I this year!

#10: SC&I Senior Steven Dezuniga ‘20 Receives the Graduation Gift of a Lifetime: A Job at Google

Beginning in May 2020, Steven Dezuniga ’20, an Information Technology and Informatics major at SC&I, will be working at Google in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as a full-time account strategist. Dezuniga will work with a portfolio of Google’s advertising clients, helping them optimize their accounts and improve their performance. Read more here.

#9: Meet Jessica Grothues Kurdali ‘04

Kurdali’s career as Vice President of Talent Recruitment and Development at NBC News and MSNBC began when she was as an undergraduate, on the day she answered a phone call in her dorm room. It was NBC, and they offered her a summer internship. She interned there all through college, and began working full time the day after graduation. In this article, Kurdali said she can “recruit the best multi-talented journalists who then appear on various screens as part of the NBC News family. We are able to maintain our talent because once they get here, they know we are going to foster their career growth, recognize their fullest potential, and continue to find them new opportunities for advancement.” Read more to discover more about the skills, talents, and experiences Kurdali looks for in applicants. 

#8: Communication Alumna Gilah Rosenberg ’09 Shines as an Academic Advisor to Rutgers Athletes

What does it take to advise 90 Rutgers student athletes in Gymnastics, Women’s Lacrosse, Women’s Golf, and Women’s Swimming teams? In this article SC&I alumna Gilah Rosenberg ‘09 tells us, as she describes her career as an Academic Advisor. The most rewarding part of her job, Rosenberg said, is seeing her students graduate. “To see the students start as recruited students from high school, first-year students, and then progress all the way to graduation is the best part,” she said. As a critical part of the lives of so many athletes, Rosenberg has developed a few mantras she always shares with her students to boost their success. Her most important piece of advice? “Plan ahead, be organized. To be organized, use a planner, make a schedule. Organization is key.” Read more of her great advice here

#7: Dual Degree Grad Works to Increase Number of Women in STEM

Read our Q&A with Allison Stubin ’18, Communications Coordinator at Johnson & Johnson.  Stuben chose the accelerated dual degree program at  SC&I, earning her bachelor’s degree in communication in May 2018 and shortly after graduating from our Master of Communication and Media (MCM) program in January 2019. She specialized in Public Relations during her graduate studies. Read how the dual degree helped launch her career at J&J. 

#6: SC&I Faculty Member Named Loyal Son of Rutgers

Professor of Professional Practice in Journalism and Media Studies Steve Miller was inducted into the Loyal Sons and Daughters of Rutgers, the Rutgers Alumni Association’s highest honor, given to those individuals who have made a significant contribution to the University. Nominated by alumnus Jason Goldstein ’05, Miller said, “I’m really flabbergasted and humbled by this honor. The reason I’m here has been and always will be our students.” To learn more about Miller and the award, click here

#5: Four New Faculty Members Joined SC&I in September, 2019

Every fall brings the excitement of new faculty to SC&I, and this year was particularly exciting, as four new faculty joined the Library and Information Science Department. They are Warren Allen, E.E. Lawrence, Britt Paris, and Gretchen Stahlman. Read the full story to learn more about their cutting-edge scholarship and teaching that has already greatly enhanced the department and the student experience. 

#4: Zack Morrison ’14 Wins Best Comedy Series at the 39th College Television Awards for “Everything’s Fine: A Panic Attack in D Major”

Anyone who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks knows how terrifying and debilitating they are. So, it’s especially commendable and impressive that Zack Morrison ‘14 was able to funnel the energy from his anxiety into writing the script, co-directing, and co-writing the songs for his short film “Everything’s Fine: A Panic Attack in D Major.”  The film ultimately landed him first place in Comedy Series at the 39th College Television Awards on March 16, 2019. Morrison originally submitted the film as part of his master’s theses at the Columbia University School of the Arts. Read the full story here

#3: SC&I’s Master of Information Program Granted Continued Accreditation

The Library and Information Science Department faculty team at SC&I achieved a monumental goal this year. Thanks to the meticulous work and diligence of Dean Jonathan Potter, Associate Professor of LIS and former Department Chair Ross Todd, Ph.D., Associate Teaching Professor of LIS and Master of Information Director Lilia Pavlovsky, Ph.D.,  and Professor of LIS and new Department Chair Marie L. Radford, Ph.D., the Master of Information (MI) Program has been awarded full reaccreditation through fall 2025 from the American Library Association’s  Committee on Accreditation (ALA/COA), maintaining SC&I’s long-held status. “We have had continuous accreditation since 1956, and continue our commitment ongoing quality curriculum design, innovation, and meeting professional opportunities in a diverse library and information landscape,” Todd said. Read more here

#2: Jon Harris ’90: Work Hard, Embrace Change, and Give Back

In this Q&A, alumnus John Harris,’90, Senior Vice President, Chief Communications Officer at Conagra, shares his recipe for building and maintaining a successful career. Some of the advice he gives in the article includes working hard and giving back. Harris also suggests joining a group such as the Page Society, or the Public Relations Society of America; being a lifelong learner and studying the industry you are in; and “practicing the practice” by maintaining a social media presence that is “authentic and works for you.” Read the full story here for more of his great career advice and inspiration.  

#1: SC&I Mourns the Loss of Part-Time Lecturer Jack Grasso

With deepest sadness SC&I announced the death of our long-time colleague Part-Time Lecturer Jack Grasso. On June 15, 2019 Grasso died at the age of 78 in Overlook Medical Center. Grasso had served as a part-time lecturer at SC&I for over 21 years, educating and inspiring countless students who graduated to follow in his footsteps to enjoy rewarding and successful careers in public relations and communications. We remember Jack with one of his amazing quotes. In 2017 University Career Services named Grasso “Career Mentor of the Year,” after he was nominated by seven of his students. In an article SC&I wrote about his award, titled “University Career Services Names Jack Grasso ‘Career Mentor of the Year,’” Grasso described the qualities he believed were essential in order to serve as a great mentor to college students. He said, “Being a mentor is not an intellectual skill or experience.  I’m reluctant to say it resides in your heart because that might sound a little too ethereal.  It really resides in your psychological disposition toward sharing what you know and what you’ve done with young people who are interested in learning and have an eye to their future.  There are of course, really great young men and women who really don’t have a plan or a concept of what to do with a swiftly approaching future of real life.  On some level they are the ones that respond more readily to mentoring and get on a track with a special level of commitment and energy.  The key is to regard them as fully-functioning adults who are honing their skills for the work ahead.  The most effective technique of mentoring is sharing your own stories about how you got started and how you grew and how you became a viable participant in a meaningful career.  You have to let your students know you are not anything special, that you were once in their position, that you worked hard because the best luck always comes from the hardest effort.”  Read more about Grasso’s life and career here

Click here to learn more about the Rutgers University-New Brunswick School of Communication and Information (SC&I)

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