WTNH-TV anchor urges arts and sciences, and communications graduates to grow from adversity
Quinnipiac conferred degrees to 376 graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences and 312 graduates from the School of Communications
May 14, 2023
May 14, 2023
The award-winning broadcaster, a fixture on evening newscasts in Connecticut for three decades, echoed his best friend and former co-anchor at WFSB-TV, the late Denise D’Ascenzo, who 10 years earlier gave a Commencement address at Quinnipiac.
“Be open, be brave and be kind,” House said, quoting directly from D’Ascenzo’s speech.
House fought back tears as he reflected on the most trying year of his life, which began in December 2019 with the sudden death of D’Ascenzo. Soon after, he lost his job at WFSB-TV and then his father to a long illness, leading him to reassess his life and start plotting a comeback. The determination with which he navigated this difficult inflection point mirrored his struggle to break into the news business as a shy college graduate who had fought tirelessly to overcome a stutter.
“I made a tape and got rejection after rejection after rejection,” said House, who was introduced by Associate Professor of Journalism Richard Hanley. “I still have a looseleaf binder with those rejection letters, over 100 of them. My advice to you is to be determined. When someone says they won’t hire you, ask why not? Learn from rejection and learn from brutal honesty.”
Enamored from a young age by broadcast journalists and a self-described “voracious” reader and watcher of the news, House said he views his on-air role as a form of service to the viewer. He opened his speech by joking about how “terrified” he was whenever he had to pronounce the word “Quinnipiac” on television. A veteran of World Series and Final Four coverage, House’s pronunciation was emphatic as he congratulated the university on its recent victory in the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey championship.
President Judy Olian began her address with a Mother’s Day greeting for the mothers and grandmothers in attendance. She lauded the graduates for exhibiting “real grace and courage” in the remote learning environment and applying their skills in some high-profile places once the world reopened. She noted that a cohort of student journalists was “in full force” in Bridgeport and Tampa, Florida, chronicling the march to a national championship from a unique perspective of pride and passion.
Olian cautioned the graduates about the various “judgment calls” and “ethical choices we’ve explored with you as part of your training” that await them in their professional lives. She urged them to let the university’s mission statement be a guidepost.
“Sometimes there aren’t any clear answers, but you have to labor to find them,” she said. “I trust you are coming out of your years as a Bobcat as graduates who are, and I quote from our mission statement, ‘enlightened global citizens equipped for the careers of the future.’”
In closing, Olian told the graduates that they’d always have a home in Hamden, as well as an unbreakable bond with the wide-reaching network of Bobcats alumni.
“All of us at Quinnipiac will follow your path with great interest,” she said. “We will unabashedly boast of your successes, hang onto your coattails and, of course, we will beam with pride at the impact you’re having in your chosen fields and in the life you lead.”
After Emily Kane ’23 sang the national anthem, Jamie Manley ’22, MA ’23, delivered the welcome address for the Class of 2023.
“Spoiler alert: I think we are going to keep experiencing new Quinnipiac beginnings long after we walk off this quad today,” said Manley, who received her master’s in cinematic production management. She expressed her excitement about her new beginning — a production assignment at the world-renowned Cannes Film Festival in France.
The student response was given by Giavanna Ragon ’23, a Spanish and sociology double major who reflected on the difficulties she faced early in her academic journey before transferring to Quinnipiac. In another nod to the university’s thrilling victory in the Frozen Four, she likened the challenges all of the graduates encountered to being “in overtime” for the last four years.
“This school made me realize that those difficult times were just part of my life training for the bigger picture,” said Ragon. “Here, I met lifelong friends, made amazing relationships with my professors, had endless opportunities and, little did I know, we’d become national champions. This school taught me that even if we continue to get knocked down by the opponent, we get up and keep playing with even more confidence than before.”
Chief Experience Officer Tom Ellett served as the master of ceremonies. The candidates were presented by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Adam Roth and School of Communications Dean Chris Roush.
Pamela Martinez ’86, a board member of the Alumni Association, welcomed the graduates into the community of Bobcats alumni.
Pomp and Circumstance, Sir Edward Elgar
Tom Ellett, PhD
Chief Experience Officer
Emily Kane, BA ’23
Judy D. Olian, PhD
Jamie Nicole Manley, MA ’23
Giavanna Carmela Ragon, BA ’23
Associate Professor of Journalism
Chief Political Anchor, Evening News Anchor, WTNH-TV News 8
College of Arts and Sciences: Adam Roth, PhD, Dean
School of Communications: Chris Roush, MS, Dean
Judy D. Olian
Pamela Martinez ’86
Board Member, Alumni Association
Amor Vittorioso | G. Gastoldi
March | A. Valenti
School of Communications and College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate and Graduate Ceremony | Sunday, May 14, 10 a.m.
WTNH evening news anchor Dennis House has been a friendly face on television screens in Connecticut for over three decades. Across his award-winning career as an anchor and political reporter, House has interviewed U.S. Presidents, moderated political debates, emceed countless charity events and reported live news hits from presidential inaugurations, the World Series and the Final Four. He’s been a steadying presence for Connecticut viewers during tragedies and natural disasters. Prior to his time at WTNH, he spent more than 20 years broadcasting the evening news at WFSB alongside his friend and longtime co-anchor, the late Denise D’Ascenzo. House received his bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs from Assumption College before he got his start in broadcast journalism at WPRI-TV in Providence, Rhode Island. Originally from Norwood, Massachusetts, he now lives in Hartford with his wife, Kara Sundlun, a fellow TV news anchor, and their children, Helena and Julian.
Congratulations to the Class of 2023! You are well prepared to continue your life journey as professionals who will impact the world and the workplaces of tomorrow. We are confident you will apply your talent, passion and education to serve boldly as engaged citizens in your communities — and beyond. These qualities are at your core and will continue to propel you well into the future.
As graduates of Quinnipiac University, you have learned from a distinguished faculty and a committed staff who proudly stand beside you today. You also have learned valuable lessons from each other during this most transformative time in your lives. Please stay connected to our Bobcat family, visit us often, and draw upon the many friendships and mentorships you have formed here.
This day is shared with your families and friends, those who also deserve special recognition and appreciation for their contributions to your success. Enjoy this momentous achievement! Together, we are cheering for you, with utmost pride.
Judy D. Olian
The mace — a symbol of authority — has antecedents in both Roman and Medieval history. The Roman mace (fasces) was carried by a lictor before the chief magistrate of the city, as well as before the legions. During the Middle Ages, the mace (mateola), a weapon of war, became first a symbol of victory and then a symbol of authority. The mace emblazoned with the Great Seal of England became a symbol of authority in Parliament by the end of the 13th century. It is this form of the mace that was the prototype of those symbols of authority, not only of legislative bodies, but also of cities and universities.
In 1246, following some 20 years of strife, the University of Paris was finally conceded the right to its own common seal. Since then, the use of the seal engraved on the mace has come to symbolize the authority of the academic community. In July 2000, Quinnipiac commissioned the noted sculptor Robert Meyer of Westport, Connecticut, to design and execute a new mace for Quinnipiac University. Cast in bronze, the mace incorporates elements of the university seal.
The medallion (medal of office), like the mace and the seal, is also a symbol of authority. It is possible that its roots may be traced back to the Roman “bulla” (a gold amulet of honor). The obverse of the medallion shows the seal of the office the wearer holds — in our case, the seal of the university. Not infrequently, the reverse would show the personal seal or coat of arms of the bearer. Since the High Middle Ages, the medallion has been worn by such officials as the chancellors of England, mayors of cities, and rectors of universities, and came to signify the high personal position such figures occupied in their respective governments. During the Renaissance, medallion design reached unique artistic heights, and in certain portraits the medallion was given particular prominence. The medallion is worn by the university’s president. The Quinnipiac medal showcases the university seal, sculpted in relief and cast in bronze.
Quinnipiac University conferred 3,141 degrees during six Commencement ceremonies May 12-14 at the M&T Bank Arena and the Mount Carmel Campus.
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