The brunch being a Saturday affair, I required all 14 students in my Digital Journalism (JOUR 1100) I course to participate, and invited those in my other classes who had not fulfilled their semester's live-tweet assignments. The dean and I considered the event an opportunity for them to showcase what they are learning to alumni, and to expose these aspiring journalists and communicators to those who have had wonderful careers after leaving Johnston Hall.
The honorees included Kathryn Zahony Livingston, Steven Bertrand, Lisa Osborne Ross, Jason DeRusha and Christopher Pardon. Bertrand, Ross and I attended the then-College of Journalism at Marquette in the '80s, and I enjoyed reconnecting with her and MU about the same time a few years ago when we both worked in Washington. The students clearly enjoyed learning about each alumni's experiences in Johnston and beyond. "This wonderful ceremony has me feeling inspired," junior Emily Pettinger tweeted while also using the two required hashtags: #MUAwards, and for her class, #JOUR1100. Sophomore Joe Kvartunas tweeted: "Touching moment here at table 2. Mrs. Ross is tearing up on stage while her family is beaming with pride. #muawards #JOUR1550."
As is always the case when my classes live tweet a campus event, #muawards soared to trending status in Milwaukee on Twitter! Afterward, for their homework assignment, each JOUR 1100 student and most of the others had to create a Storify – curating, of course, from all the tweets and related digital media, and crafting sufficient text for context. They didn't seem to mind, however, when they got to meet Rondell Sheridan, the MU alumnus and actor/director/comedian they know best as Victor Baxter, the father from Disney's sitcom "That's So Raven."
One more thing: the bowtie. For some reason, freshman Christopher Chavez declared in class that all of the men should wear one to the event. He only found two takers, Patrick Leary, a fellow first-year student, and me. Problem is I had never tied a bowtie. My wife typically handles that duty but was 100 miles away. Thank goodness for YouTube! A video helped me figure it out! Not before, though, my students tweeted about me being late to the ceremony.