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From a Distance, Alumni Keep in Touch with Students

Published on May 06, 2020

From a Distance, Alumni Keep in Touch with Students

SLM alumni meeting
Eastern alumni (clockwise from top left) Anthony Rosati '09, Pearson Davis '14, Andrew Girard '17 and Brian Clark '10 met with students from Professor Charlie Chatterton's SLM 330 class via Microsoft Teams. The alumni were interviewed by 12 students as part of a "modified field experience" assignment. 

COVID-19 may have created social distancing for Eastern students, faculty and staff, but the virus has not stopped Eastern alumni from doing a terrific job of staying in touch with their former professors. We caught up with four of them — Andrea Brown ’08, Casey McGarvey ’13, Nick Aconfora ’15, and Meg Saunders ’15 — who recently joined the virtual classes of Kinesiology and Physical Education Professor Charlie Chatterton and Communication Professor Andrew Utterback.

Casey McGarvey ’13 

Brown and McGarvey called into Chatterton’s “Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Communications in Sports” class. McGarvey serves as director of athletic communications at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. He and his staff are responsible for the sports media relations and athletic communications for the college’s 24 athletic programs, including all content on the department’s website.

McGarvey said sharing his work experience with Eastern students on April 24 was thrilling. “I always enjoy speaking with classes at Eastern, whether it’s in person or virtually. The biggest thing I stressed to them is the importance of creating relationships. They can be the best possible student during their four years at Eastern, but it will not matter if they do not take the time to meet people in their desired field of work. Take advantage of every opportunity to meet, talk and foster relationships with professionals and colleagues.”

Andrea Brown ’08

Brown called in to Chatterton’s class on April 27. She serves as director of premium services for the Orlando Magic NBA professional basketball team and leads a staff of eight in developing strategies that provides world-class service to premium account holders on multiple levels of the Amway Center in Orlando. She helps to increase the retention of her customers, generate revenue and also to create long-term enthusiasm among Orlando Magic fans. Brown, who said she has “always wanted to work for an NBA team,” told the students to “take advantage of all opportunities!” 

Brown started working with the Orlando Magic in 2010 as a client service representative, managing general season ticket holder accounts. In 2013, she transitioned to the role as a premium club level manager, and in 2018, into senior premium service manager. Last August she was promoted to director of premium services.

On April 27, ESPN producer Nick Aconfora ’14 spoke to Utterback’s “Studio Television Production” class to tells students how to prepare for jobs in the television industry. Aconfora serves as a program coordinator with ESPN Next, the company’s leadership development program based in content production for young professionals. The program is currently training four Eastern students. To learn more, Eastern students, faculty and staff can follow @ESPNNext on Twitter and Instagram.  “My responsibilities include handling internal and external communications and marketing around our program, assisting in our recruiting and hiring efforts, and development and growth of new employees,” said Aconfora.

Nick Aconfora ’15

Aconfora told the students the significance of engaging themselves in campus activities as a growth experience. “Get involved in as many things as you can while at school. Participate. Expose yourself to as much you can. Encounter every learning experience possible. If there isn’t an opportunity there that you want, try to build one yourself. At the same time, make sure to build your network so when you approach graduation, you will have built relationships with people in the workforce already.”

On April 20, Saunders, an award-winning news producer now at WTNH-TV, joined Utterback’s class to tell students how to get into television news. While a producer at a station in Boise, ID, Saunders won two regional Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow award for her work. She discussed skills that students need, classes they need to take and types of internships they should pursue. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for being a part of Eastern’s TV club and ETV News. I give a shout out to Dr. Utterback for still being so supportive of me now, as he was when I was his student. It feels so good to talk with so many aspiring journalists and news people!”

Meg Saunders ’15

As a news producer, Saunders is responsible for all on-air elements including story choice, writing, video, graphics and camera shots. “As a producer, you need to be able to multitask, communicate well with your team, and work as fast as possible without compromising accuracy. The ultimate goal every day is to have a clean newscast on-air, no matter how hectic it may feel behind the scenes.”

“Students in the Communication major at Eastern are prepared for careers in the media industry through production coursework and a variety of co-curricular experiences,” said Utterback, “including WECS-FM, Eastern Television News, Eastern Television Sports, Campus Lantern, the American Advertising Federation and the Public Relations Student Society of America. It is wonderful to see our alumni adjust their schedules during these challenging times to give our students such an educational treat.”

Written by Dwight Bachman