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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

AU’s Journalism and Digital Media alumni find success post-graduation

Eagles flock to new surroundings as alumni
The Collegian
JDM alumni sit at the Center for the Arts Studio news desk during AUTV productions.

Students come and go, which is always the same at every university and its departments, but they tend not always to remember what they learned for the road ahead. 

However, students in the Department of Journalism and Digital Media at Ashland University leave and continue to utilize the lessons and skills learned in their careers to continue growing while reflecting on the cherished memories of their time in the program.

Mackenzie Cook: A Behind-The-Scenes Gal 

Mackenzie Cook, a producer at WKEF-TV in Dayton, OH, never considered producing newscasts for a large city television station. Still, it was only when working as a producer on election 2020 for AUTV-20 at the time she found her niche. 

“I started producing actually during one of the election shows my junior year,” Cook said. “I though I was gonna be editing the packages and stuff for it, but good old Dave McCoy was like ‘I’ve picked your job’ and I was like ‘Alright, I’m editing,’ and he goes, ‘No, you’re producing it,’ and I said, ‘Dave, why would you do that ?’” 

Dr. David McCoy, chair and associate professor of Journalism and Digital Media, must have had great insight as Cook fell in love with producing.  

She has also always had a passion for behind-the-scenes work versus being on the screen as the talent and enjoys it. 

“I like piecing the puzzle together,” Cook said with a smile. 

She likes all the different moving parts that many do not see on the screen during production because one can have a better understanding of all the parts. 

An example Cook pointed to was being a great anchor but not knowing how the showing is being run behind the scenes.  

 “My favorite part [is] just getting to see all the parts come together,” Cook said. 

Rachel Ramsey: In Front of the Camera 

But not all former JDM students love the behind-the-scenes like Cooke and instead prefer the spotlight. 

Rachel Ramsey, digital anchor at WCMH-TV, is one of those students.  

Before even considering being in front of the camera, she needed to build up her confidence, but JDM helped give her the necessary push to do so. 

“When I first started in as a little freshman, I was terrified because I knew I wanted to do at first,” Ramsey said, recalling the old memories.  

She wanted to start on the radio, but after she started, television was calling her name. 

“But I was too scared to do it,” she said openly. “And eventually I got pushed into doing it.” 

Ramsey started television by the end of her freshmen year after getting pushed into it and receiving a confidence boost.  

“I think the program really helped me with confidence on really that I could do what I wanted to do when it came to journalism,” Ramsey stated positively.  

Avaerie Fitzgerald-Bocka: The Written Storyteller 

 Even though some like to be in front of the camera reporting stories like Ramsey, some former JDM alumni like to write stories like Avaerie Fitzgerald-Bocka, a digital content producer at WBNS-TV. 

Fitzgerald-Bocka mainly focused her time in JDM writing for The Collegian, which transferred into her position she currently holds as she is always writing something new and different.  

She likes how it is always different every day and how similar it was to her college experience with the student newspaper. 

[As journalists], we’re able to get a story on our desks and we have to learn a new subject in one day and then write a story about it,” Fitzgerald-Bocka said.  

Even though, she has a strong background in writing, she believes having the opportunity to dive into also television and radio helped her develop her multimedia skills. 

“I’m not necessarily doing TV, and I’m not necessarily just doing newspaper or radio,” Fitzgerald-Bocka said. “I’m kind of doing a combination of all three of those, and so you know in a multimedia era.” 

Waylon O’Donnell: Heard, but Not Seen 

With Fitzgerald-Bocka choosing the writing path, some JDM alumni like to speak, but not be seen like Waylon O’Donnell, a reporter for The Daily Journal in Franklin, IN.  

 O’Donnell currently holds a position as a reporter, but before then, he was geared towards radio in college and held a position afterwards at 104.5 WQKT, a local radio station, which he has passionate about.  

 “I was heavily involved in the radio station [at AU],” O’Donnell said. 

He found this to be his passion at a young age and knew it was going to be the focus of his time at AU. After graduating from AU, O’Donnell started working immediately at a radio station and a stringer as both part-time jobs. 

“The transition was so easy because not only does it prepare you for the world to come, but the way the studios are run, the way the faculty engages with the students,” he said with excitement. “It gave me so much more real-world experience.” 

He mentioned that it helped get “a leg up on the competition” when heading into the workforce, and how it was relatively smooth heading into the first day of work. 

“It gave me the confidence that I needed cause I’ve already done everything there before,” he said. 

From former JDM alumni working behind the scenes in television to being the face in front of the camera to typing away at a keyboard to tell a story to hearing a voice over the air, each has prepared their own destiny through the small AU JDM department with each of the different mediums. 

Whether it is only a few years of experience under their belt to several, the alumni of JDM never forget their first lessons and moments learned directly in the department at AU.  

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