University Park, IL,
17:47 PM

Honorary Degree Recipients Host Students

Governors State University’s  (GSU) 2018 Honorary Degree Recipients—all examples to students, faculty, and staff—took time before Saturday’s commencement to talk with students in intimate Q &A sessions.

In two invitation-only events, social activist Martin R. Castro and veteran reporting team Carol Marin and Don Moseley shared personal reflections, professional milestones, and a wealth of wisdom that left students grateful and inspired.

Marin and Moseley, an award winning reporting team for more than 30 years, responded to questions on how to maintain the relevance and integrity of journalism, often attacked as “fake news” in the digital age.

“These two represent brilliance together as a team,’’ said Professor Yevette Brown, who called Marin and Moseley mentors and moderated Friday’s discussion.

Journalists, once limited to print or broadcast media, have watched newspaper after newspaper fade and television news stations implode. Meanwhile, social and other web-based media have exploded in popularity.

Still, journalism is alive and well, Marin said. “You are now on all platforms. You are going to tweet it, (put it) on Facebook. It’s everywhere. It’s not dead."  GSU President Elaine P. Maimon, who attended Friday’s session, said the university’s media program is evolving right alongside the industry. “We have to transform what we do in media education.”

Co-directors of a university-based media studies program, Marine and Moseley said they infuse a lesson on ethics in each journalism class they teach.

To preserve their own integrity and that of the craft, Moseley said reporters are obligated to question what officials report as truth. “You have to be able to challenge. Challenge everything,” he said.

“Hold it up to the light,’’ Marin added. “Does it meet the standard?”

They pose questions of their own to students who say they want to pursue journalism: “Can you do research? Can you pick up the phone and call somebody?” Moseley asked, adding a journalist’s skill set includes the ability to converse rather than text.

Across campus, Castro and Associate Professor David Golland spent time with students seeking social justice careers.

Like Marin and Moseley, Castro was the first in his family to graduate college and for more than 30 years has sought to expose and correct injustices.

He, too, had faced difficult circumstances early on in his law career. As a young attorney at Baker McKenzie Chicago, the international law firm, he spoke out at a company meeting after learning a senior partner had made racist comments to a job applicant.

Saying the act had contrasted with the widespread acceptance he had experienced as a Latino at the firm, Castro recommended the man be fired. He admitted he feared losing his job but could not stay silent about discrimination. “The cost would be my soul,” he said. The firm took his advice.

For Castro, the call to challenge what he was being told also drove him to press forward for the rights of his own community and others.

He challenged a high school counselor’s advice to get a job at a local steel mill after graduation.

He went to college and ultimately obtained a law degree from the University of Michigan because he realized it was lawyers who were making many decisions that impacted his South Side neighbors.

In his lifetime, Castro has impacted millions of lives as the Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights appointed by President Obama in 2011 and before that as chair of the Illinois Human Rights Commission.

Today, Castro is president of Castro Synergies, a consulting firm that advises corporations, entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations on working with diverse communities and markets.

Senior Justin Smith thanked Castro for taking time and sharing experiences and context. “You can get data everywhere,’’ Castro said. “But it doesn’t teach you how the world works. The combination with experience is what’s important.”