Diverse Communications Alumni Panel Connects With Students

In an effort to further help educate and inspire his 40 students during the pandemic, Dominican University of California professor Brad Van Alstyne organized a diverse panel of alumni from the Communication and Media Studies Department to address his students in weeklong Zoom sessions.

“It made sense to create a forum where our current students could talk to our former students and learn about their challenges in hopes that we would find ourselves in a place of better understanding,” says Van Alstyne, assistant professor of Communications, Coordinator, Online Learning and Development in the School of Liberal Arts and Education.  “It just seems like having someone tell their story is the quickest way to understanding, or at least learning something new about someone else.”

The CMS alumni panel consisted of Amanda Aguilar ’13 (pictured above), reporter and weekend anchor for WTOC-TV in Savannah, Ga.; Patrick Cayabyab ’13, project coordinator at Project ECHO in San Francisco, Mariah Chinchilla ’14, communications manager for Green For All Dream Corps in Oakland, Brian Sanchez ’13, who earned a Master’s degree in Sports Management at the University of San Francisco, and Emanuel “Manny” Cifuentes-Machado ’19, who is a graduate student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Master’s Program at USF while working as a Human Resources Expert at Target.

The common theme of the message the alumni delivered to the undergrads was what to be aware of as they proceed through their education in regards to their post-graduate worlds, as well networking with others and exhibiting patience and understanding.

The CMS students took notice of the positive experience the alumni had at Dominican and welcomed opportunities to connect again.

“It had a huge impact,” Van Alstyne says. “It not only helps them connect with someone in their shoes, but it's also someone they can relate to -- a former student instead of a professor. They just seem more connected with alumni that they could ever be with a professor talking about diversity.”

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