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2023 SOC Awards Recognizes Achievements, Partnerships

Photography by Caroline Alden

Throughout the academic year, more than 2,000 students in the School of Communication pursued excellence in the classroom, in the campus community, and beyond.

As the spring semester came to a close, SOC students and faculty came together in the Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre to recognize 33 outstanding individuals who were nominated by the faculty for the annual School of Communication Awards. The program also introduced a new category, SOC Partner of the Year, to recognize those individuals or organizations who made significant contributions to the work of teaching and learning in the School of Communication.

Here are the awardees and their recognition, as shared by Dean Brent Smith and other members of the faculty.

Dozens of translucent glass 2023 SOC Award trophies with frost engravings of names and categories, rest on a table inside the Black Box Theater.

2023 SOC Student Award Recipients


AWARD CEREMONY PHOTOS

What fun as we celebrated an incredible field of nominees and award recipients!


AWARD FOR LEADERSHIP

I’m presenting this award because we have incredible leaders in the Journalism department… The two people who are winning this award are doing it because they believe in unity, operation and coordination. They led the Emerson National Association of Black Journalists crew and the Emerson National Association of Hispanic Journalists. They are Sharon Boateng and Clarissa Calderōn ” —Janet Kolodzy, Professor and Chair of Journalism

Sharon Boateng ’23

Journalism

(Lest to Right) SOC Dean Brent Smith poses next to Sharon Boateng ’23 and Journalism department Chair Janet Kolodzy after Boateng received the SOC's Award for Leadership.

“I remember Sharon when she walked into my office as a freshman in the Student Government Association, and she was like, ‘We need something.’ That is Sharon; when we need something, we’re going to make something happen. She has done that not only through SGA, for the National Association of Black Journalists, and WEBN. She is also a member of the Dean’s Fellowship for Racial Equity and Leadership Development in the School of Communication. She’s done everything, been everything, and she’s worked with alumni to have a fabulous program and talk about their experiences as black journalists, in this world today. Sharon is outstanding.” — Janet Kolodzy, Professor and Chair of Journalism

Clarissa Calderón ’23

Journalism

A professional portrait photo of Clarissa Calderōn ’23, who received the SOC Award for Leadership. [Courtesy Photo]

“This past August, Sharon Boateng and Clarissa Calderón attended the NABJxNAHJ joint convention in Las Vegas. During their time rooming together, they realized that they could accomplish more by working together than in their separate student organizations. They talked to me about their desire to build bridges among Latinx and Black students and it was wonderful to hear their excitement about doing this important work.

When they returned to Emerson in September, both as incoming presidents of their respective organizations, they had a renewed sense of purpose and began holding joint meetings of the Emerson chapters of the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

They helped incoming first-year and transfer students get acclimated to Emerson, held career development workshops for journalism students of color, and used funds to help students attend local workshops in Boston and New York City.

Sharon moderated a hybrid event for students of color and Black alumni , working with Emerson [Alumni Board member] Norman Oliver. Clarissa worked with the New England chapter of NAHJ to create a mentorship program.

Together, they worked to promote the work of student members on Instagram and other social media.

They are both graduating this May but leave behind a blueprint for future student members to work collaboratively. I am so proud of them.

…Clarissa is in the Emerson LA program and is working feverishly as an intern as she wraps up her time there…. I could go on and on about all the connections she’s made while working with her fellow students.” — as nominated by Cindy Rodriguez, Senior Journalist-in-Residence, Journalism


AWARD FOR CIVIC AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Stefani Davila ’23

Business of Creative Enterprises

SOC Dean Brent Smith poses next to Stefani Davila ’24 and Brenna McCormick, Director, Business of Creative Enterprises (BCE), Graduate Program Director, Strategic Marketing Communication (SMC) Senior Executive-in-Residence after Davila received the Award for Civic and Community Engagement.

Stefani has been a bright light to the BCE community, but also has come to the attention of her faculty and peers to the extensive heart-centered work she does advocating. She is the founder of a nonprofit founded in her native Ecuador, Meraki Youth, whose work began with veterans and has expanded to clothing donation for foster children and cancer patients, and now also encompasses education and climate change awareness.

She also raises awareness for cancer patients through another non-profit, Jovenes Contra el Cancer, founded by her brother who passed away in 2006.  As a photographer she has volunteered for two immigrant advocacy organizations: Florida Immigration Coalition and United We Dream. We are thrilled to recognize Stefani Davila and honor her positive impact with the Civic and Community Engagement award.” — Brenna McCormick, Director, Business of Creative Enterprises (BCE), Graduate Program Director, Strategic Marketing Communication (SMC) Senior Executive-in-Residence Department of Marketing Communication


AWARD FOR INNOVATION

Wesley Days ’23

Journalism

(Lest to Right) SOC Dean Brent Smith poses next to Wesley Days ’23 and Journalism department Chair Janet Kolodzy after Days received the SOC's Award for Innovation.

“His reputation preceded him massively. Whether it was his EVVY-winning podcast, his various work – and he’s worked at NBC Network, he’s worked locally, and he’s been doing internships everywhere. Also, I had the pleasure of having him in my class, where he hustles in wanting to get everyone in class working to be their best. Wesley has always been ahead of the curve, and he’s always thinking of the next big thing. And I guarantee he will be doing the next big thing shortly after graduation. He’s an amazing young man. I cannot wait to see where he’s going to take us, and that’s why I’m thrilled to applaud him for getting the Innovation Award from the School of Comm.” Janet Kolodzy, Professor and Chair of Journalism

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AWARD FOR ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE – UNDERGRADUATE

Ashlyn Wang ’25

Journalism

(Lest to Right) SOC Dean Brent Smith poses next to Ashlyn Wang  ’26 and Journalism department Chair Janet Kolodzy after Wang received the SOC's Award for Academic Excellence in Undergrad.

“Not only does she surpass a 3.8 GPA, she has a clear 4.0. She works for the Berkeley Beacon. She works for WEBN. As her nominating faculty member says, ‘Ashlyn has consistency maintained an academic record with high grades in all courses. Her commitment to excellence in evident in her participation in various academic competitions where she is consistently ranked at the top. Additionally, her passion for learning has led her to undertake challenging researched projects that have garnered acclaim from both her peers and academic supervisors.'” Janet Kolodzy, Professor and Chair of Journalism

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AWARD FOR ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE – GRADUATE

Jennifer Markiewicz, MS’23

Communication Sciences and Disorders

(Lest to Right) SOC Dean Brent Smith poses next to Jennifer Markiewicz and Journalism department Nydia Bou, Professor and Chair of Communication Sciences and Disorders after Markiewicz received the SOC's Award for Academic Excellence in Graduate.

“The recipient of this award comes to our graduate program and our profession already having experience as a classroom teacher.  If you didn’t know her as an individual, this alone would show you that she takes learning and education very seriously. Her passion to learn more and achieve at this level is rooted in this core value and the idea that teachers exemplify what it is to be a successful learner. She has always been a reflective student, asking thoughtful questions, and pushing herself to take risks and explore the field she has chosen. She strives to absorb concepts and ingrain them in her practice with clients, and she shares her learning with others she meets, including interns from other graduate programs around the country.

From the beginning, she has been at the top of her class. In a program as large as ours, we rarely see students who can achieve and maintain a 4.0 GPA for five intensive terms. Not only has she thrived in our weekly academic classes, but she has distinguished herself as a clinician in her community.  Over her five placement experiences, she has had to adapt to new settings, styles, and expectations to provide Speech and Language services to clients across the lifespan with care and compassion.  She has also done all of this while being a wife and a mother. It is my honor to present this award for the very first time in the history of the School of Communication Awards, to a Speech@Emerson student. This student and soon to be colleague is Jennifer Markiewicz.” Nydia Bou, Professor and Chair of Communication Sciences and Disorders

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AWARD FOR MOST VALUABLE PEER – UNDERGRADUATE

Cordelia Kelly ’23

Business of Creative Enterprises

SOC Dean Brent Smith poses next to Cordelia Kelly ’23 and Brenna McCormick, Director, Business of Creative Enterprises (BCE), Graduate Program Director, Strategic Marketing Communication (SMC) Senior Executive-in-Residence after they received the Award for Most Valuable Peer in Undergrad.

“A Business of Creative Enterprises transfer student, now in their senior year, this student is a familiar, friendly face (topped with a recognizable ever-changing colorful swath of hair) in the BCE program and the Marketing Communication Department.

They  demonstrate enthusiasm, knowledge, and wisdom for the BCE program, as well as their experience at Emerson. This translates to their involvement in a number of extracurricular activities that place them in a role of being a liaison and valuable peer. In addition to being a part of the up-coming Teach-In on Sustainability, they are also a Marketing Fellow and a BCE Ambassador. One of my go-to students for volunteering to be a part of Picture Yourself at Emerson Q&A sessions, and a “regular” at our monthly BCE Happy Hours.  And all this spirit is shared generously in the community and also in the classroom where Cordelia Kelly is known for being a fantastic collaborator and contributor who we are excited to honor with the Most Valuable Peer Award.” — Brenna McCormick, Director, Business of Creative Enterprises (BCE), Graduate Program Director, Strategic Marketing Communication (SMC) Senior Executive-in-Residence

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AWARD FOR MOST VALUABLE PEER – GRADUATE

Alan Geiss ’21, MA ’24

Strategic Marketing Communication

SOC Dean Brent Smith poses next to Alan Geiss ’23 and Brenna McCormick, Director, Business of Creative Enterprises (BCE), Graduate Program Director, Strategic Marketing Communication (SMC) Senior Executive-in-Residence after Geiss received the Award for Most Valuable Peer in Graduate.

“An Air Force Veteran, a filmmaker, and a creative and brand strategist, Alan discovered a passion for experiential marketing and brand storytelling his senior year as a VMA student at Emerson. He then decided to focus and deepen his marketing knowledge as a graduate student in the Strategic Marketing Communication (SMC) graduate program.  Since Alan joined the SMC program in spring of 2022 as both a graduate student, and the role of assistant marketing producer/coordinator, the SMC program has not been the same-it’s been even better!  

Alan is a natural community builder and team leader. He actively support events for the SMC community, such as our monthly @Five, the Fierce Urgency of Now (F.U.N.) workshop that was part of the City Awake festival in September, and the SMC Alumni Panel, part of MK601 SMC Seminar, in October.  

Beyond the official program work, he is an extroverted social force, bringing students together for trips to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, or the Winter Market in the Seaport.  Online, he brings the SMC program and Emerson College Grad Life experience into focus in his content which always showcases the campus, the community, and the local hangouts in a way that is helpful for both our current students and prospective grads.

Alan once shared with me that when he was in the military he was assigned the job of answering the phones. Rather than be disappointed about this mundane task, he decided to answer the phone in such a way that it made each caller’s day a little bit better.  I can’t think of a better way to sum up Alan Geiss the recipient of the Graduate Most Valuable Peer Award.” Brenna McCormick, Director, Business of Creative Enterprises (BCE), Graduate Program Director, Strategic Marketing Communication (SMC) Senior Executive-in-Residence

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AWARD FOR STUDENT ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Jarred Houston ’22, MA ’23

Basketball / Business of Creative Enterprises

SOC Dean Brent Smith poses next to Jarred Houston ’23 and Bill Curly, Emerson Men's Basketball Coach after Houston received the SOC Award for Student Athlete of the Year.

“We have a saying on our team, you know, ‘Make your teammates better.’ And along the way, Jarred has made his teammates a lot better and I thank our community here, but at the same time he’s been able to become a two-time All-American, a two-time League MVP, and two-time League Defense Player MVP, and oh yeah, the first player at Emerson to get over 1,000 points without rebounds. (And two-time Athlete of the Year). ” Bill Curly, Men’s Basketball Coach

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SOC PARTNERSHIP OF THE YEAR – INTERNAL

Iwasaki Library

Emerson College

Robert Lyons, BCE  Director, Graduate program and Dean Brent Smith and Cheryl McGrath, Executive Director, Library & Learning at Emerson's Iwasaki Library laugh on stage as they reflect on their partnership.

“The Iwasaki Library serves the global Emerson community from Boston to Los Angeles to Kasteel Well, including all global and online degree programs. The library expanded digital and streaming content and online services during the pandemic. They support student research, learning, and increase online access. Upon returning to campus, student were not utilizing the library at the same rates, so that’s part of what spawned the partnership between Business of Creative Enterprises and the Iwasaki Library. ”Brent Smith, Dean of the School of Communication and Marketing Communication Professor

“This partnership has been a long time coming …. The students who we worked with [during the pandemic] were just absolutely fantastic at understanding what problems we were trying to solve and knowing their peers and how to solve them. And one of the things I’m most proud of is by working with them for this endure this past year, we’re able to advocate for a marketing coordinator position within the library showing we train these students to be professionals and experts, and come to value their learning. So, thanks so much.”Cheryl McGrath, Executive Director, Library & Learning

BCE Senior Residency

Robert Lyons, BCE  Director, Graduate program and Dean Brent Smith and Cheryl McGrath, Executive Director, Library & Learning at Emerson's Iwasaki Library laugh on stage as they reflect on their partnership.

“So the subject began with a bunch of students going, ‘The library, where’s the library?’ And that’s where the problem set – They dug in and they did a great job… It was a terrific experience working with Iwasaki folks, as well as the folks we spread the project to on our ELA campus. It’s just a terrific thing all around and I thank you for the opportunity. ” Robert Lyons, BCE Director, Graduate program

Cheryl McGrath, Executive Director, Library & Learning at Emerson's Iwasaki Library poses next to Dean Brent Smith and  Robert Lyons, BCE  Director, Graduate program.

SOC PARTNERSHIP OF THE YEAR – EXTERNAL

On the Same Page Boston & Boston Public Schools Teachers

Neil Harris,  fifth-grade teacher at the Roslindale school and Cathryn Edelstein, Communication Studies Professor smile on stage.

“[The] On the Same Page campaign started in 2019. I can’t do this without teachers in Boston, who partnered with me in different Boston Public Schools (BPS). My first partner is Neil Harris, who in 2019 partnered with me and his school in Roslindale. We let the teacher curate a list of books for students at their schools that represent the identities of the students in their classrooms. Usually it’s the old book from the 1950s and 1960s, with white families and white journeys, but that is not the look of the kids who are in their schools, so it’s amazing for kids to build their self-esteem, be able to see themselves in the books they read, which really sparks their interest to read – and feel good about themselves. Teachers curate the list and we lead people to go get them. We’ve had 156 students since 2019 that worked on eight campaigns. Six thousand books have been donated [to date]. A thousand this spring were donated and 70 games, because the school wanted those as well.” Cathryn Edelstein, Communication Studies Professor

“Thank you on behalf of the students of the [school] district of Boston. This is an awesome program and has really helped them to see themselves through literacy and we thank you very much.” Neil Harris,  fifth-grade teacher at the Roslindale school

Dean Brent Smith poses next to Boston Public Schools teachers, Cathryn Edelstein, Communication Studies Professor, and three Emerson students after they were recognized on behalf of the On the SameP Page book campaign. which collects and donates diverse and inclusive books to BPS elementary schools.

Additional nominees for 2023 SOC Awards

  • Angus Abercrombie ’26, Political Communication
  • Jimena Alvarez ’23, Marketing Communication
  • Carter Bruce ’23, Sports Communication
  • Cecelia Bachmann MS’23, Communication Sciences & Disorders
  • Caroline Davis ’23, Volleyball / Communication Sciences & Disorders
  • Wenjing Ding MA’22, Journalism
  • Kayla Fontalvo ’22, Journalism
  • Laura Gonzalez ’23, Communication Sciences & Disorders
  • Katherine Hikin ’22, Communication Sciences & Disorders
  • Jillian Kay ’23, Journalism
  • Maddie Lauria ’23, Political Communications
  • Abigail Lee ’24, Journalism
  • Zarina Levitsky ’23, Political Communication
  • Daniel Luppino ’23, Marketing Communication
  • Elena Naze ’23, Journalism
  • Charlotte O’Connor ’24, Journalism
  • Ashley Osmecki ’23, Public Relations
  • Campbell Parish ’24, Journalism
  • Christine Park ’23, Journalism
  • Lucas Poyser ’23, Sports Communication
  • Frankie Rowley ’23, Journalism
  • Leyla Said ’23, Journalism
  • Drake Skelly ’24, Journalism
  • Sommer Stokes ’24, Journalism
  • Jehan Heru Wirasto ’22 Journalism
  • Petra Wolf ’24, Journalism

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