Roger Strauss, senior director at CNN and a 1980 Grady alum.
Alumnus Roger Strauss Keynotes Fall Convocation
Date: December 15, 2011
Author: Sherrie Whaley
Contact: Diane Miller, email@example.com
Roger Strauss, senior director at CNN and a 1980 alumnus of Grady College, delivered the keynote address to Grady students at the 2011 Fall Convocation held on Thursday, December 15, at the University of Georgia’s Hugh Hodgson Concert Hall.
At UGA, Strauss majored in telecommunication arts. During his 31 years at CNN, he has directed more live shows than anyone else at the network—over 17,000. He is also the 2011 recipient of Grady College’s John Holliman Jr. Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award.
In his convocation address, entitled “Right Place, Right Time,” Strauss shared his personal journey and some amusing anecdotes. He recalled how CNN came to Grady just before he graduated in 1980 to interview for positions at a new all-news network.
“Only five people interviewed for the jobs,” the 54-year-old recalled. Despite being advised by everyone to go work for a small local TV station and forget about this “CNN thing,” Strauss took the job and said he “was in the right place at the right time.”
He told the graduates that, while he realized they would probably rather be hearing from Grady alumna and Inside Edition host Deborah Norville than some TV guy they’d never heard of, their careers had a better chance of resembling his than that of a network star.
“Unless you marry a Kardashian or Casey Anthony, most of us will probably never hear of you and that’s perfectly fine,” he said. “You will work behind the scenes in anonymity, and if you stick with it, you wake up one morning and you realize that wow, you have directed over 17,000 television shows, and Dean Clark wants you to give the convocation address.”
Strauss cautioned the graduates not to dismiss entry-level jobs that may seem menial to them, but may actually be very important. “Unless your mother is Oprah Winfrey, you are going to have to take the stairs, not the elevator on your way to the top. So work hard at your first job. You are learning and you are earning. You may feel overqualified for it, but the teleprompter operator of today becomes the network president of tomorrow.”
Strauss stressed that Grady grads should embrace, not fear change. “When I started out in television, it was a big deal to get a live shot on the air via satellite. At times it would take a million-dollar satellite truck hours to get to a story so we could have live pictures. Now we can get instant live shots from laptops and $200 iPhones. …there’s now no limit to where you can go to cover a story live.”
Finally, Strauss encouraged the graduates to believe in themselves, stick to their convictions and to take chances. He recalled how everyone said CNN would never work, that nobody wanted to watch 24-hour news.
“For the first five years or so, CNN looked like a big failure. Ted Turner stuck with it because he believed he was right and CNN became a huge success,” Strauss said. “If people tell you that something will never work, prove them wrong. Never be afraid to fail and never give up.”
Alumnus Roger Strauss Keynotes Fall 2011 Grady Convocation.
Following Strauss’s charge to the candidates, Distinguished Senior Orator Marilin Rae Goff addressed the audience with a speech entitled “Life Lessons from Grady College.” Senior orator honors go to the student who has earned the highest grade point average in the graduating class.
Goff is a broadcast news major and history minor from Cumming. She was an active member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority and spent time working with UGA NewSource and WNEG-TV.
During her summers Goff interned with Fox Sports South and Comcast Sports Southeast, helping with broadcasts of UGA home football, basketball and baseball games and Atlanta area high school football games. She also interned at The Weather Channel and even saw air time as the weather reporter for Southern Golf Weekly.
After graduation, Marilin hopes to have a career in broadcast with a major network or a college athletic department.
In her convocation speech, Goff’s life lessons from Grady College included 1) the concept of 80/20; 2) shades of gray; 3) the importance of attribution; 4) don’t miss slot and 5) the importance of work ethic.
Distinguished Senior Orator Marilin Rae Goff had the highest grade point average in the graduating class.
Grady College Convocation brought students, faculty, family and friends together to welcome graduates into the journalism and mass communication professions.
One hundred four of the eligible 163 graduates participated in the ceremony, which recognized 157 undergraduate students and six graduate students for completion of their studies.
University of Georgia Commencement will be held on Friday, December 16. Approximately 2,225 undergraduate and graduate students will be eligible to graduate.
The undergraduate commencement ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. in Stegeman Coliseum with James H. Shepherd Jr., chairman of the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, keynoting the ceremony. The Shepherd Center is the country’s largest catastrophic care hospital. Approximately 1,720 seniors will be eligible to participate in the ceremony.
An estimated 506 candidates for master’s, doctoral and specialist in education degrees are eligible to participate in the graduate ceremony which begins at 2:30 p.m. also in Stegeman Coliseum. The featured speaker will be Sylvia McCoy Hutchinson, a UGA professor emerita of reading education.
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