On April 26, University of Miami School of Communication honored its students, alumni, and faculty at the 67th Annual Student Media Awards.

Shoma Hall was filled with students, friends, and family, as hosts Danny New and S. Molly Dominick from UMTV’s Off the Wire introduced the first award as the “Please Become an Adjunct Award,” officially known as the Communicator of the Year.

This year’s Communicator of the Year was UM alumnus Dan Le Batard. Le Batard graduated from UM in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in communication, majoring in journalism. Soon after graduation, Le Batard began working for the Miami Herald where he continues to write as a sports columnist. Along with his work for the Herald, Le Batard also hosts The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, a daily talk show on ESPN Radio, as well as Highly Questionable on ESPN and ESPN2 along side his father Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard.

Dean Shepherd presented the award to Le Batard for “his character, his passion, and his guts.” Le Batard accepted the award and assured students that the SoC gave him the foundation to work for ESPN. He referred to his time here as “instrumental” for building a life doing what he loves to do. Le Batard left students with advice for those who want to follow in his footsteps.

“Read everything. Ask Questions of everybody. Be intellectually curious. Be willing to change your mind. Listen. And try to think differently and surround yourself with people who think differently,” said Le Batard.

Following Le Batard, Vice Dean Paul Driscoll presented awards to outstanding seniors in each major. Taking home awards were Taylor Lynn for electronic media, Doménica Leone Berry for media management, Amber Sreenan for communication studies, Rori Kotch for journalism, Danielle Cohen for visual journalism, and Jenna Johnson for broadcast journalism.

Jenna Johnson was also awarded the Carolyn Cefalo Award for Outstanding Senior of Alpha Epsilon Rho; The National Broadcast Society. She was also this year’s School of Communication’s Outstanding Senior for her work and dedication to UMTV. Johnson was honored to be this year’s SoC Outstanding Senior, but admits it feels a bit weird to be graduating early.

“So many of my peers within my major and the School of Communication are truly outstanding, and I feel very humbled and honored to be recognized among them. It also feels a little weird to be completely honest, since I’m graduating a year early. I feel like a junior who just happens to be graduating, so the word “senior” itself is still a little surreal,” said Johnson. 

Another big winner was senior Rori Kotch, who is the outgoing editor-in-chief for distraction magazine. Kotch was awarded the Most Valuable Staff Member for her dedication to distraction over the past four years. Returning in the fall to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in interactive media at the School of Communication, Kotch says her time at the SoC really helped her find what she was passionate about.

“The journalism department really helped me find my passion via student media. I really found my niche there and I know a lot of people have. Leaving distraction will definitely be bittersweet,” said Kotch.

Trent Rigins was another senior awarded for his work with the Media Management Association. His paper, The Game Changers of the Video Content Business: The OTTs earned him first place in the MMA awards. 

The SoC also recognized retiring professor and Miami Hurricane adviser Ileana Oroza for her 16-year dedication to the journalism program. Department Chair of Journalism and Media Management, Sam Terilli, referred to Oroza as “one of the best editors he has ever had the pleasure of working with” and encouraged her to “enjoy her freedom,” during her retirement.

The ceremony ended with Danny New congratulating all winners and reminding everyone again about his internship with The Tonight Show.

To view photos from the event, please visit facebook.com/umsoc. Below is a list of winners. 

Outstanding Senior School of Communication

Jenna Johnson

Outstanding Graduating Journalism and Media Management Senior by Major

Jenna Johnson, Broadcast Journalism

Taylor Lynn, Electronic Media

Doménica Leone Berry, Media Management (graduating Fall 2016)

Rori Kotch, Journalism

Danielle Cohen, Visual Journalism