By: Diane Stirling
|Alyssa Henry speaks to CNY Central, a local television station, about social media in October, 2011.|
What else might you expect from a student who has an ultra-social personality, is a social media pioneer at Syracuse University and is the iSchool’s Graduate Leadership Award recipient to boot?
“Social media has had such a profound effect on my time here, why not incorporate that into what I share at the address?” is Alyssa’s perspective. And actually, that frame of mind is totally in character for the outgoing and inclusive Alyssa.
The graduate leadership award is voted on by the faculty. It is presented at Convocation as a way to recognize a student who has contributed exemplary forms of leadership and scholarship during his or her iSchool graduate years. Alyssa was nominated by Anthony Rotolo, Assistant Professor of Practice. She has served as his teaching assistant for the past two years.
“I’m thrilled to receive the award. It’s a great honor to be recognized by the faculty and staff at the iSchool because there are no better people in the field anywhere,” Alyssa enthused. The past two years, she said, “have really been a complete transformation for me – a complete transformation. I’m very proud of everything I’ve accomplished here, but it never would have happened without the help of Dean Liddy, Professor Rotolo, and all the other faculty and staff.”
A Staten Island native, Alyssa came to the Information Management program by way of the broadcast journalism curriculum at the Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She had some initial concerns about how well she would fit in, but now tells students to overcome such concerns and move forward. When she started at the iSchool, “I was a little bit terrified because I don’t have a technical information background. So I wasn’t sure if I could find a place here, or understand the content and really engage with it,” she admitted.
Not only were those fears unwarranted, it turned out that Alyssa found a home among “an amazing group of like-minded people, in faculty and staff, and all that I studied directly related to my interests.”
Alyssa now hopes to pursue an innovative career track combining her love of broadcast journalism, television entertainment and social media practice for a major network or for brands. “I’m very excited for what comes ahead,” she said. “Social media has completely changed the way we disseminate shared information. In the last two years, I’ve learned about how information is spread, how we’re re-spreading it, how we’re going to continue to share information and how it will find its shape in the future. It’s been the perfect fit for someone like me. I think I absolutely took the right path.”
She tells other students to “never be afraid to ask questions, because people are always willing to help when they can. She also advises, “Never be intimidated by someone else’s success, because everyone was once where you are now.” When she has reached out for help, particularly in the field of social media, even those in high positions“have gotten back to me about my questions, simply because I asked,” she said, noting that the value of online connections will pay benefits in real life.
As she prepares to leave Syracuse behind, Alyssa looks back with fondness.“I love Syracuse. We were a match made in heaven, plus the Syracuse community has been so supportive and so encouraging. It’s going to be hard to leave such an innovative environment and all the really great connections I’ve made. I’m sure we will all keep in touch via Facebook and Twitter and other things.”
Then, she quickly added this plea in her endearing, social-media-centric way: “Please Facebook me, Tweet me, call me; I’m always available to the iSchool, and I’ll be back.” ‘’