The stars had descended upon BU to celebrate the Distinguished Alumni Awards on September 29. What was turning out to be a chilly week didn’t seem to dampen the pleasant and serene evening—the perfect setting to honor our beloved alumni, James “Nooka” Jones (COM ’10), Carlos R. Bardasano (COM ’94, COM ’97), Mariette Di Christina (COM ’86), Sylvia Stevens-Edouard (COM ’74), and Henry Hughes (COM ’06). The evening began with a reception in the Colloquium Room at the Photonic Center, where the honorees were joined by their family, friends, professors, and a scattering of COM students, aspiring to attain the status achieved by their predecessors. “He was an excellent student; down to earth,” said Prof. Carolyn Clark, talking about her old student, Nooka. “He always hosts students from Boston University during their spring break visit, and gives back to the BU community,” she continued, brimming with pride.
The first awardee of the night, James “Nooka” Jones, currently works at Google Creative Lab, and was featured in the Forbes “30 Under 30” List. He graduated from COM in 2010, and as the first VP of Interactive Services at AdLab, helped launch this division. “Being back here reminded me of some quality memories I had here. Tobe [Berkovitz] has always been a great support, and being part of AdLab helped me establish my talents and develop the right work ethic,” he said, when asked about his time at COM. His advice to the students currently graduating from COM: “Find and integrate passion with work. Tap into your passion and work hard, but also give time for extracurricular activities.”
Our second awardee of the night was Carlos R. Bardasano, Vice President of Original Content at Univision Communications, which is part of the new division that creates and develops primetime series for the US Hispanic market. He graduated from Questrom in 1994, and from COM in 1997. He recalls his days at BU, walking through the lobby at Warren Towers with different people from so many different countries, feeling like he was walking into the headquarters of the United Nations. “I always loved that about BU—probably the most international university in the world,” he said in his acceptance speech, “being around students [from] around the world does something magical.”
Talking about how BU helped him discover his potential, he said, “My experience here at BU, at COM specifically, allowed me to see two steps ahead, to think strategically, to see the potential of the Hispanic market ahead of most people. BU opened my mind and helped me position myself in the right place at exactly right time.”
Mariette Di Christina, our third awardee, is the Editor-in-Chief of Scientific American, and was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Engineering in 2011. She graduated from COM in 1986, where she completed her bachelor’s in journalism. A typical confused college student during her time here, she recalls a class she took with Prof. James Brann, and being intimidated by him when he asked to see her after class. She recalls the conversation they had, saying, “What he asked me really surprised me because he asked, ‘What are you majoring in?’ and I said ‘Public Relations’ but honestly, I didn’t even know what Public Relations was,” she said, laughing, “and James said, ‘No no, not PR, you should be in journalism, you can do this, you’re good at this… He put me on a path that ended up steering my future and it was exactly that day.”
Sylvia Stevens-Edouard was one of the most vivacious people in the room, and the fourth recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Awards. She graduated from COM in 1974, and is currently the Executive Director of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. When asked about her time at COM, or SPC as it was called back then, she talks about the 30-pound suitcase of equipment she had to carry from 640 Comm Ave to the T and all the way to Faneuil Hall. “I don’t remember names, I don’t remember faces, but I remember carrying that suitcase,” she said, laughing and reminiscing the old days. “When people would ask me what were the greatest experiences that you had, and I would say, ‘leaving Tallahassee and going to Philadelphia Penn was like Dorothy putting on the glasses and everything came into color,” she said in her acceptance speech, “and BU was the yellow brick road, the yellow brick road to my success and my future to life.”
Our final awardee for the night was Henry Hughes, director of Day One, which was nominated for an Oscar this year for Best Live Action Short Film. He graduated from COM in 2006 and served on active duty in Afghanistan. He shared three love stories in his life that made an impact and changed his course of the path, one about Ayman, the Pashtun-American interpreter he met in Afghanistan, the second, his wife, who supported his dreams and gave him strength, and finally his best friend, who he met at BU. “When I think of Boston University, I think of this guy. I think of someone who challenges me, someone who I get to explore life with, someone who has taught me that learning is never ever, ever done. So Boston University, College of Communication, thank you very much, it’s been wonderful.”
Vaishali Rao, Staff Writer
Vaishali is a graduate student in Advertising who hails from Bangalore India. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management and a post graduate diploma in business administration. She loves writing, filter coffee, and her adorable cat, Taggy.