Dana Hughes pursues her dreams and brings honor to CSU while
Hughes, 27, will be awarded for her accomplishments at tonight’s
annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner. She will receive the
prestigious Graduate of the Last Decade Award.
“The recipient is chosen based on accomplishments made in the
area of career service or volunteer efforts that have brought honor
to the university or the individual,” said Jennifer Parsons, event
planner for the Alumni Association.
Recipients must have graduated within the last 10 years and
obtained at least their bachelor’s degree from CSU.
After Hughes graduated in 1998 with a degree in theater arts,
she moved to the New York City area to pursue her lifelong dream of
acting. Hughes joined a prestigious ensemble company and also did
some work for the Oxygen Network.
While Hughes was an actress, she spent a summer interning in
London with the House of Commons and Welsh Assembly, where she did
research for Welsh Parliament members and assisted in writing press
releases, speeches and letters.
To support herself while pursuing her acting career, Hughes also
worked as a legal assistant at a corporate law firm. However, after
a few years of acting, she realized it was time for a career
Hughes said her decision to end her acting career was her
“For so many years I was dead-set that that was what I was going
to do,” she said. “For me to decide that’s not what I wanted to do
anymore, that took a lot of courage. I had to really reevaluate who
I was and what I wanted out of life. I think I made the right
Hughes elected to head in a more political direction. She now
works for the Ford Foundation in New York as a senior editorial
assistant, where she writes for and edits the foundation’s magazine
and annual report.
Currently, Hughes is earning a master’s degree in journalism
from Columbia University and expects to graduate next May. She also
interns with CNN’s “NewsNight with Aaron Brown.”
Hughes aspires to be a White House or foreign correspondent for
a television network, where she would be doing both the reporting
“Ultimately, I’d like to be a very good journalist,” she
She remembers when Henry Kissinger came to speak at Columbia,
invited by a professor who was formerly an NBC executive.
Kissinger said he respected the professor because, although most
of what he said about Kissinger was negative, his words had always
“At the end of my journalism career, that’s what I want people
to say about me: ‘I may not have always liked what you wrote or
what you said, but you were always fair,'” Hughes said. “That’s how
I would like my career to be remembered.”
Hughes said her ultimate goal in life is to have no regrets.
“That doesn’t mean I’m not going to make mistakes,” she said. “I
always hope to learn from my mistakes so I can turn it into a
learning experience, a positive experience and opportunity.”
Laura Jones, director of the theater department and Hughes’
former adviser, nominated her for the award.
She said she nominated Hughes in part because of the great deal
she has accomplished in just the five years since she graduated.
She also said Hughes deserves to be recognized for her dedication
to keeping the arts alive.
“Dana, to me, is an outstanding example of someone who is an
arts advocate, who not only enjoys the arts and participates in the
arts, but goes out and works for the Ford Foundation to raise funds
and solicit subsidies for the arts” Jones said. “To me, that’s
absolutely essential. Without people like Dana, the rest of us will
cease to exist.”
She said Hughes will go far in life.
“She sets her sights very high, but she’s well on her way to
realizing them. As such, she is an inspiration to anybody who
graduates from CSU to realize they can go straight to the top if
they put their mind to it and their talents behind it,” Jones
Hughes said when she heard she had won the GOLD Award, she was
surprised, honored and flattered.
“I feel like I’m starting to accomplish things,” she said, “but
I’m just sort of beginning on my journey.”
Parsons said the GOLD Award is important because it recognizes
the accomplishments of young graduates who are generally not as
engaged in the university as older alumni.
Hughes agreed that it is important to honor younger alums.
“At first I was a little skeptical because I thought, ‘Well, I
haven’t really done anything yet to win this kind of award,’ but I
think that’s kind of the point,” she said. “It shows people you can
still accomplish things five years down the line that are
important. You don’t have to invent something or be at the peak of
your career to be recognized for what you’ve learned at CSU.”