We encourage our alumni to keep in touch and to continue to be a part of our family. Many of our graduates share their success stories with us and help our current students land internships and jobs. Many of our recent graduates have secured great jobs and are on their way to successful careers in Communication Studies, Journalism, Public Relations, and Advertising.
The Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize CWU graduates who have made a name in their fields, earned respect among colleagues and in the general community, and who have had an impact on a regional, national and/or international level.
“This event honors those alumni who have gone above and beyond in their careers and through their personal and professional achievements,” noted Scott Wade, vice president, university advancement. “These outstanding individuals truly embody what being a Wildcat is all about.”
The Communication Department had 2 alums honored:
Fred Kohout, the 2016 Distinguished Alumni/College of Arts and Humanities, who is chief marketing officer and senior vice president of Cray Inc. Kohout has been in senior roles in both privately and publicly-held technology companies over the last 25 years. Kohout is a 1981 broadcast journalism graduate and currently serves as chair of the College of Arts and Humanities Advisory Board.
Crystal McDonald, winner of the 2016 4 Under 40 Leadership Award/College of Arts and Humanities award, is a trial lawyer who focuses on personal injury cases. Early in her career, she often represented children and young adults neglected by the Department of Social and Health Services. She is a 2005 political science and communication graduate.
“I’ve always been an ESPN guy,” said CWU alumnus Mike Wells. “Sports news is the first thing I check out when I wake up and the last thing at night. Sports journalism is the second best thing to being one of the athletes.”
Wells has been a sports journalist for 13 years. But now not only does he get to watch ESPN, he’s working for the network.
“It’s definitely a dream come true,” Wells acknowledges.
A 2000 CWU communication graduate, Wells is now responsible for writing about all aspects of the Indianapolis Colts, of the National Football League, on a daily basis for ESPN.com and its expanded NFL Nation blog.
After a successful summer internship writing about the Seattle Seahawks for the Associated Press, Wells was offered a job straight out of college with the AP Seattle bureau.Between 2000 and 2005, Wells worked at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, covering the Minnesota Vikings football team, Minnesota Wild hockey team, University of Minnesota men’s basketball team, and Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team. He then was hired by the Indianapolis Star to become the beat writer for the Indiana Pacers basketball team. In July, the Star, Indiana’s largest daily newspaper, reassigned Wells to cover the Colts. Within a week, ESPN came calling.
“Our objective in staffing NFL Nation was to identify and build a diverse team of first-class journalists with distinct voices, experienced reporters with multimedia skills and indefatigable work ethics, and authoritative and credible analysts who can contribute to our all of our platforms—print, digital, TV, audio and social,” said Patrick Steigman, vice president and editor-in-chief at ESPN.com. “Mike met or exceeded our standards in all of those areas. He has the ideal mix of energy, enthusiasm, and experience, given his background covering the NBA, college sports and, of course, the NFL. He's been a great addition to the ESPN team.”
The first in his family to earn a college degree, as a CWU student Wells volunteered for every opportunity available in the communications field. He spent two years on the Observer, the university’s student newspaper, worked in the sports information department, spent two years hosting a radio program and one year as news director at KCWU, CWU’s student radio station, and worked in Public Affairs.
“Anything communications related, I did,” he said, noting that such varied experience has been instrumental in his success. “I had the opportunity to do hands-on work in a lot of areas, opportunities I probably wouldn’t have had if I’d gone to a bigger university.”Follow Mike Wells on Twitter.
Richard Matthews is a distinguished military graduate, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from CWU. Upon graduation, Matthews was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army.
Today, Matthews works as a civilian as the deputy division chief of the Exploitation and Collaboration Division of the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Task Force, in the office of the director of Joint and Coalition Warfighter Requirements and Evaluations at the Pentagon.
Matthews is working toward his fourth advanced degree, a masters in divinity focusing on the chaplaincy, with the goal of providing counseling to veterans and their families once his time at the Pentagon ends.
If you have career advice or would like to share how your experience in CWU's Communication Department helped you in your field, please email email@example.com.
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