After graduating in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism and an emphasis in public relations, CSU alumnus Brad Bohlander planned on moving to the nearest metropolis in hopes of getting the most out of his media-related degree, which turned out to be more challenging than expected.
For many years, Bohlander held various small jobs to help pay the bills, including bartending, a side project with Hewlett Packard and his first public relations job with the Boys and Girls Club of Denver.
Finally, more than 10 years after graduation, Bohlander was offered a career opportunity from a surprising source — his alma mater.
“It was certainly not part of my original plan,” Bohlander said. “As soon as I saw the opportunity to come back to CSU, I took it.”
Today, Bohlander is the executive director of Public Relations and the official spokesperson for CSU. He oversees the university’s media relations staff and handles crisis communications.
In order to honor Bohlander and other prominent CSU alumni for their media achievements, the Department of Journalism and Technical Communication is holding its inaugural CSU Media Alumni Festival today through Saturday at the Lory Student Center.
The festival is intended to bring together nationally and internationally recognized media alumni. In all, 41 CSU alumni who have gone into careers in TV, film, photography, books, newspapers, magazines and public relations, will be attending the festival.
“It’s a great way to bring these people back and highlight their accomplishments,” Greg Luft, chairman of the Department of Journalism and Technical Communication, said.
Luft said that it is hard to get so many people together because “(CSU) can’t involve as many alumni that want to help us, so this is a great way to do that.”
The returning alumni will all take part in educational panels that are open to CSU students, faculty and the general public all day Friday.
The panels will give a first-hand glimpse into the careers of published authors, sports reporters, public relations specialists, network TV anchors, top-rated newspaper and magazine reporters and a special panel devoted to war reporting.
In addition to the panels, the festival will include the first ever “Cammy Awards,” which will feature more than 100 alumni media entries that will be judged by a festival committee, with the top entries earning a “Cammy.” The award’s name was inspired by CSU’s mascot Cam the Ram.
Entries include work from TV productions such as “60 Minutes” and “Home and Garden Television” and publications such as “Financial Times.”
Luft said the alumni were selected based on their media entries or simply their media-related accomplishments and connection to CSU.
Alumna Melissa Tessitore, who graduated in 2001 with degrees in technical journalism and political science, said it’s an honor to be a part of such an outstanding panel.
Tessitore, who served as student manager of the student-run TV station at CSU, is currently the director of Communications for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in Denver and produces a weekly national cable TV program focusing on the needs of cattlemen.
“Student media has been the foundation of my career,” Tessitore said. “I will always come back to CSU as often as they ask.”
Alumna Allison Sherry, who graduated in 2000, used her degrees in technical journalism and political science, as well as her experience as editor-in-chief of the Collegian during the 1999-2000 academic year to become an established reporter at The Denver Post the past eight years. Today she covers poverty and the non-business side of the current recession for the nationally-ranked newspaper.
Sherry said the alumni media festival “makes me really proud of the university,” and it “confirms how great (CSU) is.”
“I thought it’d be cool to be more involved with helping students, and it will be fun to see so many of my old friends,” she said.
The opening night will include a preview of some of the best media entries and an alumni reception.
The festival will conclude Saturday with an alumni tailgating party before the CSU football game.
Bohlander, although he never planned on returning to CSU for his career, said it’s clear that the education CSU offers its students has given a lot of people the opportunity to have very successful careers.
“I am honored to be included with such a successful and prestigious group of alumni,” Bohlander said.
Staff Writer Bryan Schiele can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.