Annenberg Undergraduate Students Honored at Graduation Ceremony

The Annenberg School for Communication honored graduates of the communication major during a ceremony at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, May 13. Several graduating students were honored for their academic accomplishments.  

Eisenhower Award

Maura A. Collinsgru and Monica Gojman were recipients of the Communication and Public Service (Eisenhower) Award, which recognizes a graduating senior who is part of the Communication and Public Service program and has completed an outstanding honors thesis on a topic related to either public policy of public service issues.   Ms. Collinsgru’s thesis is titled “Evidence of Personal Narrative in the Leadership Rhetoric of Alice Paul, Dorothy Day, and Eleanor Roosevelt.” The work combines rhetorical and historical analyses to explore the role personal narrative played in the leadership of three twentieth century women: Alice Paul, Dorothy Day, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Her use of narrative theory to analyze the speech and writings of these women is a unique approach that brings new insights into women who have been the subjects of many biographers.

Ms. Gojman's thesis is titled "Signed, Sealed, Delivered: NAFTA and the Marriage between Mexico and the United States.  Using the metaphor of marriage to structure her analysis, she examines how NAFTA shaped the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.  Her thesis is impressive for her ability to integrate historical and rhetorical analysis of presidential speeches, letters, conversations and other documents with her analysis of media coverage with NAFTA and her in-depth interviews with key advisors to Mexican presidents.  

George Gerbner Award    

Lily Enuice Kim and Annie Norbitz are the recipients of the George Gerbner Award. Honoring the School’s former Dean (1964 – 1989), this award is presented to a graduating senior for the honors thesis that best demonstrates an original and comprehensive application of research skills and a thorough understanding of communication scholarship.   Ms. Kim’s thesis is titled “Post-racial Princess: An Examination of Racial Portrayals in Disney's The Princess and the Frog.”  For this work she conducted an in-depth textual analysis of the film’s representation of race and used a semiotic framework to connect her findings to a larger system of meaning. Her work is remarkable for the depth of her analysis, her integration of her findings with previous research, and her use of developmental theory to shape the implications of her findings.   Ms. Norbitz’ thesis, entitled “The Unique Role of the Implicit Association Test in Assessing the Effects of an Educational Video on Adolescents’ Implicit Out Group Attitudes,” was developed out her work with the Annenberg Public Policy Center where research was being conducted to see how exposure to compelling video can decrease discrimination amongst adolescents. Annie developed original hypotheses for the study, helped recruit subjects and improved the quality of an intervention that will affect students in over 40,000 high school classrooms.

Also recognized is Nichole Johnson, who wrote the thesis “Deeds & Dreams: Robert Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and the Struggle for Civil Rights Leadership.”   

Charles Morris Price Prize

Kathryn L. Llewellyn is the recipient of the Charles Morris Price Prize, which is given to an outstanding graduating senior in the Communication major who in the view of departmental faculty has most distinguished themself through a combination of academic excellence, research accomplishments, and/or other achievements contributing to the department’s academic objectives.    Ms. Llewellyn was recognized by her professors as being an articulate, insightful and intelligent student. As one professor stated her work is “at the level of a top Annenberg graduate student.” And another professor stated, “She does careful, painstaking research that would be a credit to good graduate students. Her work is insightful, conscientious and thorough. All this is done without show or drama, but modestly and with a real feel for the multiple layers of substantive and moral complexity that a thorough account of any social problem with multiple players and stakes requires.”  

C. Nicole Dickerson Award

Andrea Faith Highbloom is the recipient of the C. Nicole Dickerson Award, which is given in memory of undergraduate adviser Nicole Dickerson. It is given to a graduating communication major who has made a significant contribution to our neighbors in the West Philadelphia community.    In Andrea’s sophomore year, she was Community Service Chair for her sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, where she organized fundraisers for the Prevent Child Abuse America and recruited volunteers for school-based clean up and garden planting projects.  In her junior year she assisted teachers and tutored students at University City High School, working in corrective reading and math intervention classrooms, tutored individual students in the student success center, and served as a graduation coach for seniors, assisting with college and financial aid applications.  

Honorable Walter H. Annenberg Award    

Florentina Dragulescu is the recipient of the Walter H. Annenberg Award, given to the student who has strengthened and improved the University of Pennsylvania’s student community through his or her communication service activities.    Ms. Dragulescu has worked with an Annenberg faculty member as part of the Penn Undergraduate Research Mentorship Program, where she studied how mobile phones and other new technologies have changed social interactions in public spaces. She spent a summer in Washington, D.C. as an intern with Free Press where she worked with the Governmental and External Affairs Directors on developing governmental and press strategies for advocacy in the field of media policy reform. And she worked with the Annenberg Center for Global Communication Studies, assisting with media strengthening programs that took place in Afghanistan, Iran, and elsewhere.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson Award 

Nikolas R. Stergiopoulos is the recipient of the Kathleen Hall Jamieson Award, given the graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average in the major. 

Phyllis C. Kaniss Award  

Sara Brenes-Ackerman was presented with the Phyllis C. Kaniss Award, which is presented to a graduating communication major who has demonstrated a commitment to civic participation. That participation can comprise meaningful involvement in actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern. Ms. Brenes-Ackerman was active as an editorial intern with RedCultura, Costa Rica’s leading online cultural magazine; she wrote a column for The Daily Pennsylvanian, and she was an editor for 34th Street, Penn’s weekly arts and culture magazine.