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Reprinted from InterCom, the college alumni magazine
By Megan McPheely

“I wanted to be a part of something special.”

Cory Burkarth is among the more than 225 College of Mass Communications and Information Studies alumni working at USC. He and Duncan Alford, Jenna Eckel and Elizabeth West, all have different reasons for wanting to work for their alma mater, and they reflect how broadly the college’s alumni are engaged across the university.

photo of four alumniFamily, home and wanting to work in the area are some of the reasons graduates of the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies choose to work at the university.

Alford, associate dean of the School of Law and the director of the law library, has used his degree from the School of Library and Information Science to help him with budgeting, selecting materials and managing personnel. While Alford has a degree in law from the University of North Carolina, his MLIS degree, which he earned in 2001, also assists him daily. He uses both degrees in his teaching and administration duties.

“I wanted to be a part of a research university. We have a variety of programs here that aren’t offered at other universities,” Alford said. He also wanted this job so he could be closer to his family.

Eckel, a 2011 graduate of the J-school, works in President Harris Pastides’ and Provost Michael Amiridis’ offices, an exciting opportunity for a recent graduate. Eckel said her story is an unexpected one, as she had already accepted a job in November. Dr. Amiridis sat next to Eckel at a scholarship luncheon, and he told her to send him her résumé. He emailed her the day after her December graduation to offer her a job, making her job decision difficult.

“I knew I could accomplish a lot, and it felt like home,” Eckel said. Even though she is from Pennsylvania, she is comfortable at USC.

In her job, she makes presentations, takes phone calls, researches and studies sustainability issues. An interesting aspect of her job is learning how a university operates. Her public relations degree taught her to look at the big picture, comprehend facts from various subjects and connect them.

West, a graduate of both the J-school (1989) and SLIS (1995), is a university archivist, working with a wide range of people, from freshmen to graduate students to faculty to administrators. West assisted with ESPN College GameDay this year and in 2010, to ensure that trucks parked in appropriate places to avoid wells that could collapse under their weight. West knows where the wells are located because she takes care of historical records, including maps of USC’s campus.

As a university archivist, West oversees exhibits for the South Caroliniana Library. “The exhibits are driven on collections we have, collections we want to highlight, anniversaries coming up, and new collections that come in,” West said. Her degrees have helped her determine what information is needed, how to handle and catalogue materials and use the South Caroliniana Library records.

As the media coordinator for the athletics department, Burkarth (BA, 2009, MMC, 2012) updates the website, coordinates press conferences and events like Marcus Lattimore’s birthday celebration for television stations and news networks. His job is unique because of the way the journalism field is changing; video is becoming more of an emphasis, increasing in the three years he has worked for USC. He can release a story immediately on the website rather than waiting for traditional media to gather the information, conduct interviews, and run the story a day or two later.

“As a student, the J-school provided me opportunities to grow and learn,” Burkarth said. His degree taught him several things he uses in his job, such as how to use the camera and the editing software.

Many USC graduates are working for the university, and all of them have stories to tell. We’d like you to share your story about what USC has done for you, what you’re doing for USC and what you hope to do for USC in the future.


Megan McPheely is a junior visual communications major from Duluth, Georgia.

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