Communication Department Honors Bright Minds at Annual Luncheon

by Rashad Mulla

Communication Department Honors Bright Minds at Annual Luncheon
Professor Rodger Smith with alumna Nicole Livas

   Several extraordinary undergraduates in the Department of Communication at George Mason University are wrapping up their semesters. Now comes the department’s annual celebration of these students.

   The department hosted its 20th annual Student/Alumni Spring Banquet in The Hub on Saturday, April 14, 2012. More than 100 people, including students, faculty, staff and family members, attended the program. Nicole Livas, an alumna of the Department of Communication and currently a news anchor for the NBC affiliate in Norfolk, Va., delivered career-planning and other advice to the attendees during her keynote speech.

   “I was terrifically impressed with Nicole Livas,” said Rodger Smith, Department of Communication faculty member and WGMU faculty advisor. “She provided students in attendance with great advice.  I have watched some of her news anchoring work online and have been thoroughly impressed.  She is a great role model for our students and ambassador for GMU.”

    Each year, the department hosts the banquet to recognize several outstanding students who study communication at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. This year’s awards included the Excellence in Communication award, the Communication Challenge award, outstanding awards recognizing master’s students and doctoral students, and the prestigious Dr. Bruce Manchester Outstanding Academic Achievement in Communication award, presented to one highly-deserving student. Senior Josh Apple was the winner of this year’s Dr. Bruce Manchester award.

    In addition to handing out the communication awards, the department honored several students working for WGMU, the campus radio station. The winners of these awards included:

  • Broadcaster of the Year: Hannah Landsberger
  • Announcer of the Year: Evan MacDonald
  • WGMU/Beth Kauffman Award for Creativity: Brandon Katz
  • WGMU Special Achievement Award: Jenifer Mason (alumna)

    The department also presented an award to an appreciative Livas.

 “I feel honored to be recognized by my alma mater,” she said. “The committee chose me for my achievements in communication, community service and continuing support for GMU.  It's important to support my alma mater because I'm proud of how Mason helped me develop into a good journalist and citizen. I enjoy giving back and sharing my talent, time and experience.”

    Currently a co-anchor on the 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. weeknight newscasts on NBC affiliate WAVY-TV and Fox 43 News at 10 p.m. in Norfolk, Livas has covered several major stories during her career.  She was one of the first reporters at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis, Mass. following the John F. Kennedy, Jr. plane crash.

    The Department of Communication believes these outstanding students are on their way to big time stories of their own.