Florida A&M University’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication is buzzing with excitement as it prepares to host the highly anticipated homecoming event, “Grads Are Back 2023: Paving the Path for Future Communicators.” It is set to take place this Wednesday and Thursday. This two-day gathering promises to be a bridge that connects generations, fostering networks and empowering the next wave of communicators.
The event celebrates community building within journalism, public relaitons and graphic communication, aiming to bring together SJGC alums, current students and seasoned industry professionals to provide an enriching experience for all attendees. It’s an opportunity for students to connect with alums and industry experts, cultivating relationships beyond the classroom.
The excitement begins on Wednesday with “Grads Are Back After Dark: A Fireside Chat with the Dean.” This event features a candid conversation between SJGC Dean Mira Lowe and distinguished alumna Staci R. Collins Jackson, a 1996 graduate and an award-winning publicist known for her work with blockbuster movies like “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Girls Trip.” Jackson’s career trajectory has been nothing short of spectacular. She has been named one of the ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Publicists To Know.
Lowe shared her anticipation for the event’s impact.
“It is my hope that Grads Are Back fosters lasting connections between students and alumni, empowering careers, building professional networks, and uplifting communities,” she said.
Thursday is brimming with diverse activities and workshops catering to journalism, public relations, and graphic design enthusiasts. The agenda includes a colloquium discussing the future of AI and its intersection with diversity, academia and entertainment, sponsored by Paramount’s “The Creator’s House.”
Alicia Hope, an SJGC graphic design instructor, and a Grads Are Back faculty planner, emphasized the thoughtfulness behind selecting panelists and topics.
“When measuring the success of Grads Are Back’s impact on students, we tried to hone in on feedback we received in previous years. We found out not only what students wanted but also what they needed,” Hope said. “We aimed to create a space where our students felt comfortable connecting, networking and reaching out to alumni well after the event. Establishing a network beyond the classroom was crucial.”
The Grads Are Back career fair is an opportunity for students and attendees to explore potential career paths with industry giants, including Bloomberg, Paramount, Golin and Google. It’s a chance to make meaningful connections with industry leaders.
Elise Durham, an SJGC alumna and member of the school’s Board of Visitors, underlined the importance of alum engagement. She explained how the event strives to involve a diverse group of alumni in the media and entertainment industries, committed to long-term participation and support for SJGC.
“This is the second consecutive year that I have produced Grads Are Back. As a member of the Board of Visitors and an alumna myself, I understand the importance of having alums return to campus to share their experiences,” Durham said. “Last year’s success led us to reach out to those who participated and ask them to submit workshop proposals for this year. We aim to continue building on this model as Grads Are Back evolves.”
With an impressive lineup of alums and industry professionals, and an engaging schedule, Grads Are Back 2023 promises to be an event that leaves a lasting impact on students and alums alike. It embodies the power of connections, networks, and a united community in journalism, public relations and graphic communication.