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October 24, 2013

Homecoming weekend highlighted by workshops, awards, opportunities to connect and fun and games during new reunion format that highlights schools rather than grad years

By Daniel Herda and Doug Vehovec

The School of Communication Reunion came together during a rainy cold afternoon on Saturday, Oct. 19, when everyone gathered under a tent to drink cider and officially catch up with their professors and colleagues, and make new networking connections with current students.

CSU HomecomingPaul Wolansky, director of advancement for CLASS, and George Ray, director for the School of Communication, were two of the chief organizers of the reunion.
Wolansky emphasized that it is important for all attendees to constantly keep in contact with one another.

“Many alumni members are here and the turnout is pretty much what we expected,” Wolansky said. “I look forward to the next reunion and to see the return of the many students who are graduating now.”

Under the crowded tent attendees stood shoulder-to-shoulder, with many of them unable to move more than a few feet without turning and talking to someone they had not seen in a long time.

Even though space was limited, film and digital media students were able to haul their video cameras, tripods and lighting equipment inside the crowded tent.
Film and digital media lecturer John Ban led his students as they conducted interviews with communications alumni, professors and students,

“This is the best way to give my students real-world experience – by having them work under pressure and intensity,” said Ban. “In order for them to learn, you have to throw them into the fire and see what happens.”

Don and Michelle Shadrake, both school of communications alumni, handed out pamphlets to prospective students. Michelle majored in promotional communications while Don studied business communications and is currently vice president of FocIS Group. He has provided technical support for the company for over 25 years, serving customers such as Key Bank, Medical Mutual of Ohio and Cleveland Growth Association.

“My company hires interns every year and tries to get kids into the system,” Shadrake said. “We also work with some of the other colleges around town and provide many kinds of educational opportunities.”

Jugglers handled fire, dry ice experiments were being conducted, paper bag characters were created and a raffle with rubber ducks brought the attention of many gathered.
Among the alumni impressed by the fun events at the reunion was Victoria Avi, one of the few attendees that was not a school of communications alumnus but earned a BA in graphic design and an MA in environmental studies.
Avi reunited with friends from the school and spoke about how important Cleveland State had been to her.

“I never thought I would be going to college,” Avi said. “After I immigrated to the United States I was the first member of my family to attend school and I consider it a treasure.”

Even though there was little sunlight to be seen, that did not stop over 100 people from gathering under the tent to share their shining stories and speak about their memories.
Brian Breittholz, assistant VP of alumni relations and executive director of the Cleveland State Alumni Association, said there were over 900 alumni and friends who attended all of the reunions and events over the weekend.

“It was excellent, from start to finish,” said Dr. George Ray, “The reunion did everything we hoped it would do because it was a first ever.”