Student Spotlight

Meeting professional legends like Barbara Walters, teaching high school students, winning major awards, publishing academic research with SMPA faculty: our students have unparallelled opportunities to pursue their passions and contribute to their future professions.

The stories below describe the accomplishments our students have had in and out of the classroom.



Members of No Labels GW chapter with Jon Huntsman

SMPA Junior Co-Founds First Bipartisan Student Organization at GW

December 08, 2016

No Labels GW started out as a complaint.

As the primary season heated up in early spring 2016, it became clear that this election cycle would not be one of reconciliation or moderation.

Democracy Matters

Emily Creighton Founds GW Chapter of Democracy Matters

October 06, 2016

Emily Creighton (BA '18) aspires to change the political pay-to-play system by bringing a leading non-partisan organization working to cut private money out of politics to the most politically active campus in America.

Hanna Cunningham

Intern Diary: Hanna Cunningham with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

August 23, 2016

As I searched for an internship for this past summer, I knew I wanted to work in a museum communications department. GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs is within walking distance of many of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., but I had another museum in mind. I found myself looking to Cooper Hewitt, a Smithsonian museum located along Museum Mile in New York and an institution that stood out to me for its incredible design exhibitions that challenge audiences and raise important questions. Cooper Hewitt’s Peter A. Krueger program offered me the opportunity to work with their communications and marketing department and visit other arts organizations in the city throughout my time in New York.

Sophie Ota headshot

SMPA Student Wins Top Prize in Journalism Contest

May 06, 2016

It’s always great to be recognized for doing what you love and on May 26, Sophie Ota, JMC ’18, will return home to receive the top prize in the 2015 Connecticut Society of Professi

Nana Agyemang, White House Correspondents' Association Scholarship

Nana Agyemang Receives White House Correspondents’ Association Scholarship

April 27, 2016

Senior Nana Agyemang is a 2016 recipient of the White House Correspondents' Association Scholarship. The award, which was first announced last year, grants one lucky SMPA senior an opportunity to attend the annual WHCA Dinner and meet the president of the United States and first lady. The winner also receives a $2,500 scholarship to be applied to his or her fourth year. Starting with the class of 2019, a freshman will be awarded a total of $10,000—$2,500 per year for four years.

Rachel Kliger

SMPA Student Named as Finn Partners-Widmeyer Communications Scholar

April 15, 2016

For the second year, Widmeyer Communications, a Finn Partners Company, has partnered with George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) to provide the Widmeyer-Finn Partners Communications Scholar program to a student pursuing a career in public affairs. The recipient for the 2015-2016 academic year is Rachel Kliger, a second-year master’s student in SMPA’s Media and Public Affairs program. Rachel has been utilizing her SMPA education as a fellow on the Finn Partners Public Affairs team since September 2015.

Decision 2016 panelists on stage at Jack Morton Auditorium

Decision 2016 Panelists Discuss the Upcoming Presidential Debates

April 01, 2016

Two gladiators step into the arena, dressed in their finest armor and ready for a heated battle. The crowd waits with anticipation as they prepare for combat.

A Conversation with Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper Talks Trump, His Sexuality, and the Media

March 03, 2016

It is a testament to the vast number of political wonks and journalism junkies at GW that Anderson Cooper is met by raucous applause when he walks onstage at Lisner. It was as if we were greeting a rock star. But Anderson Cooper is a rock star for many and not just those who regularly watch him on CNN or CBS. He is also openly and proudly gay, something he called “one of the great blessings” of his life. It was fitting, then, that the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) teamed up with Allied in Pride, GW’s LGBTQ advocacy organization, to bring Cooper to campus on February 29th for an SMPA Conversation Series event.

"Blacktivism: The New Generation" Gallery Launch

February 12, 2016

Friday, February 5 marked the opening of the new exhibition "Blacktivism: The New Generation." During the opening, the second floor gallery of SMPA teemed with dozens of students, faculty, and supporters, admiring the various pieces of art that lined the walls. The exhibit, curated by SMPA Professor, Dr. Imani M. Cheers and organized by SMPA students Nana Agyemang, Lanie Edwards and Zinhle Essamuah, celebrated and showcased the art of over 20 contemporary artists called “blacktivists.” Each artist contributed a range of two-dimensional pieces including photography, paintings, videos, and written work to offer their own unique perspectives on critical issues facing the black community today. The opening also featured a special musical performance by One Common Unity. The exhibit will be on display on the first floor lobby of SMPA through May 2016.

Tatiana Cirisano

SMPA journalism student heads to Japan after winning reporting competition

February 11, 2016

SMPA junior Tatiana Cirisano was named one of the winners of the Roy W. Howard National Collegiate Reporting Competition. Cirisano and nine other lucky students will take part in a nine-day, all-expenses paid, study trip to Japan.

Manheim-Sterling winners Garcia, Hogan, and Fawzy

Manheim-Sterling Undergraduate Prize Winner Explores Social Issues

January 29, 2016

This year’s recipients of the Manheim-Sterling Undergraduate Research Prize may be at the helm of two very different projects, but they both tackle important social issues. Molly Hogan, an SMPA senior majoring in Political Communication, is exploring the effects of framing on public opinion on an increasingly important political issue: mandatory minimum sentencing. She is particularly interested in the unjust disparity in jail time caused by a controversial law for crack and powder cocaine use.

SMPA Senior Jessica McEntee

Understanding the Power of Logos

November 13, 2015

Often times, the help you seek comes from a place you would never think to look. For SMPA Senior Jessica McEntee, the help she needed to complete her senior thesis appeared in the form of the GW SURE Award.
McEntee, a University honors student who is double majoring in Political Communication and Economics, is primarily focused on the power and influence of logos, specifically during political campaigns. Her thesis includes a survey that measures the ability of logos to produce strong emotional reactions and mobilize voters. Ensuring enough people took the survey was a challenge.

Head shot of Rachel Smilan-Goldstein

Feminism and the Media

November 05, 2015

Senior Rachel Smilan-Goldstein was destined to become a feminist from the day she was born when her mother insisted that her daughter’s name be hyphenated. These values have stayed with her and inform her current research on the media’s changing coverage of the Women’s Movement over the last 50 years. The recipient of a Luther Rice Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Smilan-Goldstein set out discover if the feminist movement was depicted in the media as an important avenue for empowering woman.

Nancy Pelosi crowd shot

Student Perspective on "A Conversation with Nancy Pelosi"

October 28, 2015

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reflected on her mission to fight for children around the United States during her enlightening discussion with SMPA Director Frank Sesno during SMPA’s Conversation Series, which gives students the opportunity to hear from luminary figures in politics, media, and communication. Pelosi spoke on topics such as the budget deal, the new House leadership, the future of the Democratic Party, and the role of media in contemporary politics. Throughout her illustrious career in public service, Pelosi has been at the forefront of some of the most important political moments of modern times. As the highest ranking female political figure in the history of the United States, she has shattered glass ceilings. But for Pelosi, every single decision and action comes back to the millions of children around the country that live in poverty.

Brianna Gurciullo, BA '15

Measuring the Momentum of the Marijuana Legalization Movement

October 22, 2015

Brianna Gurcuillo, BA '15, spent eight months as a fellow for News21, a national investigative reporting initiative based at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The 2015 News21 project’s focus: the legalization and regulation of recreational and medical marijuana in the United States. As a collaborative project with a heavy focus on multimedia, News21 fellows had a variety of specialties including writing, videography, photography, data and web development. She worked with several teams who traveled to about half the states, together producing over two-dozen written stories, 50 videos and a dozen graphics.