Senior Communication Majors Win Awards

Wroble wins Charles Morris Price Prize

Graduating senior Jonathan Wroble is the winner of the 2010 Charles Morris Price Prize, given to the outstanding graduating senior in the Communication major who, in the view of departmental faculty, has most distinguished him or herself through a combination of academic excellence, research accomplishments, and/or other achievements contributing to the department’s academic objectives.

Mr. Wroble is described as a pensive student. He chooses his words carefully in class discussion. He does not simply blurt out ideas or shout out concepts. When he writes, it’s clear that each word is deliberate. He takes time to ensure that the reader can fully grasp his argument. He approaches his own work with a critical eye that often only comes after years of experience.

Annenberg faculty member Elihu Katz, Ph.D., recognized him as an outstanding, bright, mature, serious student when he enrolled in his seminar on Media Events. The work that Mr. Wroble presented in class was altogether original. After Jonathan completed the course, Prof. Katz encouraged him to expand his term paper into an honors thesis. Prof. Katz is working with Jonathan to get his paper published.

Seelig wins Kathleen Hall Jamieson Award

Senior Allison J. Seelig is the 2010 winner of the Kathleen Hall Jamieson Award, presented to the graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average in the major. Ms. Seelig’s GPA in her major was a perfect 4.0.

Nieves Receives Honorable Walter H. Annenberg Award

Graduating senior Christine Nieves is the recipient of the 2010 Honorable Walter H. Annenberg Award, granted to the student who has strengthened and improved the University of Pennsylvania’s student community through his or her communication service activities. Graduating senior Julie Gutowski received an honorable mention for the award as well.

Ms. Gutowski served for the past three years as Co-Chair of the Undergraduate Comm Society. She was responsible for overseeing and directing the board. Her faculty also recognized her as an accomplished scholar.

Ms. Nieves was described as a “remarkable student in all regards. Her academic performance while at Penn has been strong. Equally impressive is her ongoing and effective leadership in a host of campus and community-related activities and organizations. What connects these activities to each other and to her academic studies in a deep commitment to issues of equity and justice, a concern for the plight of under-represented minorities and immigrant communities (centrally though not exclusively Latinas, youth and women), and a sophisticated understanding of the importance of media and communication to any effort to achieve a more just, inclusive society.”

Some of Christine’s activities and achievements have included work as a television host with Telemundo, Research assistant at the Annenberg Public Policy Center with the Children & Media project, working as an on-camera anchor for’s web broadcasts, volunteering with the Puentes de Salud Clinic, which targets health educational programs to Latino women, working as a Student Mentor with both the Penn’s Women Center and Las Casa Latina, being a member of the Sphinx Senior Society, and being the recipient of the Sol Feinstone Undergraduate Award.

Next year Ms. Nieves will be at Oxford University to pursue a graduate degree in Evidence-Based Social Intervention from the Department of Social Policy and Social Work.

Cope, Massara receive community service awards

University of Pennsylvania senior Hannah M. Cope is the winner of the 2010 C. Nicole Dickerson Award. The honor is in memory of undergraduate advisor Nicole Dickerson and it recognizes public service by a graduating communication major who makes a significant contribution to neighbors in West Philadelphia. Senior Adriana Sarina Massara received an honorable mention award as well.

Actively involved with Penn’s track and field team, Ms. Cope is a member of the Onys Senior Honor Society. Her work with neighborhoods in West Philadelphia, includes two summers working with the Philadelphia Freedom Schools program, where she worked with elementary school age children teaching math, reading, and writing as a strategy for preventing summer learning loss and building self esteem.

Ms. Massara participated and managed Penn’s CityStep organization, a group of volunteer students who conduct dance lessons and shows with local West Philadelphia high school students.

Kaplan, Schwenk share D. David Eisenhower Award for top papers

University of Pennsylvania seniors Rebecca Kaplan and Alyssa N. Schwenk are the co-winners of the D. David Eisenhower Award, which recognizes the outstanding honors thesis by graduating seniors in the Annenberg School for Communication’s Communication and Public Service Program.

Ms. Kaplan’s thesis is titled “Ideological Party Realignment and the Nationalization of Midterm Elections, 1938 to Present.” Her work was described as follows: “Although the sheer scope of her thesis was impressive, the individual parts of her thesis and the cohesiveness of her argument make this an exceptional paper. Her literature review did an excellent job of providing detailed background needed to understand her analysis. Her methodology was clear and effectively laid out the complex details of her analysis. Not only was her analysis of speeches excellent, the way she used her analysis of FDR and Nixon’s speeches to frame the 1994 and 2006 elections was unique. Her conclusions regarding the realignment of the political parties related her work to previous research and broke new ground. Finally, her arguments were clear and her writing was easy to read."

The title of Ms. Schwenk’s thesis is “From the Fourth Estate to the Fourth Branch: The Press and Presidential Authority on Matters of National Security and the Cold War narrative, 1961 – 1971.” Her efforts were similarly lauded: “Alyssa Schwenk is not your typical undergraduate student. She is not intimidated by piles upon piles of books in her room, she is not intimidated by writing a lengthy paper, and she is not intimidated to ask questions. She is driven by a pursuit of knowledge. Perhaps it is her ‘inner-journalist’ that drives her research instincts. She is eager to tell the story, and to tell it well. For her thesis research, she selected a research question that she was passionate about.  And she attacked that research question head on.  The fact that her research question was quite large did not intimidate her – rather, it fueled her.   Working hours upon hours in the library, she was determined to fully answer her research question.”

Three Honored with George Gerbner Award

Seniors Marion Jehane Abboud and Jonathan Wroble are the recipients of the 2010 George Gerbner Award, which 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. Senior Brynn Emily Applebaum received an Honorable Mention.

Ms. Applebaum’s thesis is entitled “A Cross-Cultural Content Analysis of Anti-Smoking PSAs in the U.S. and in German.” What makes Ms. Applebaum‘s thesis unique was her collaborative work with both the Communication School and the German Department.

Ms. Abboud‘s thesis is entitled, “Arab-Islamic Music Videos: Grappling with Modernity, Seeking Authenticity.” She conducted a textual analysis of three Arab-Islamic music videos. She used the videos’ music, lyrics, and visuals to examine the negotiation between music videos’ modern format and target audience and the more traditional aspects of the Islamic faith and Muslim society. The strength of her paper lies in both the depth and breadth of her literature review, as well as the depth of her analysis of the videos. Her methodology was clear and she effectively conveys her findings and implications.

The title of Mr. Wroble’s paper is “Seizing the Moment: A History and Future of Seducing the Media Spotlight.” For his thesis research, he saw theoretical value in events that many of us would see as seemingly insignificant – for example, stories featured in a weekly tabloid. Moreover, he saw connections between events that many of us would not see and ultimately pushed forward a rather novel concept for the field of Communication.