Alumni Corner

Mass Comments

Mass Comments Fall 2010 CoverFall 2010

Mass Comments is produced by the St. Cloud State University Department of Mass Communications.

Over the years, alumni have shown great willingness and desire to connect with the Mass Communications Department, even more than the department has had opportunities for them to help.

This year the department is working to expand its external connections and we’re  offering an opportunity for you to participate.

Alumni Spotlight: Ryan Ruud

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Ryan Ruud graduated from SCSU’s Mass Communications program just six months ago, but he’s already enjoying a cutting-edge job in his field of choice. He manages social media for W3i, an online applications company in Sartell, MN. It’s a full-time job, but he’s also enrolled as a full-time graduate student in SCSU’s Mass Communications Program.

“The program is really good giving you the carrot, but making you find it yourself. They give you 90 but you need to go the other 10 percent,” said Ruud.

Ruud says he entered St. Cloud State as an undergraduate student with the goal of becoming a broadcaster. But in 2009, while covering the Fargo flood for the campus television station, UTVS, he realized the media world was going in a completely different direction. When he returned from the eight-day trip, he learned the stories he produced in Fargo had been seen by tens of thousands of viewer, and it was all made possible through online distribution.

“If St. Cloud State had not provided me the resources, the ability to, the skill set to, or the desire to go out and do that on my own, none of this would have ever happened, said Ruud.

Ryan Ruud plans to graduate from St. Cloud State with a Master’s degree in Mass Communications next fall.

What can you do?

Lisa Heinrich, Alumni Director

First, there’s a faculty member directly responsible for alumni outreach: Lisa Heinrich,

Second, we need to hear from you – send us your email addresses.

Third, we’re looking for alumni who would be willing to give an hour or two of their time each semester to talk to students in advertising, public relations, and our other emphases.

Fourth, we’ve set up a group on Facebook where you can get department news and connect with each other. Log in or sign up for an account and join our group by clicking the Facebook link.

Check here for information about our upcoming alumni gathering in the spring in Minneapolis.


We Would Like to Hear From You!

We are looking to enlarge our database for internships and would like to hear about internship programs and opportunities at your organization. Send us information on your program. If you don't have one but would like to explore the possibility of starting one, send us information about your company and how you envision an internship program and we'll be glad to help you get started. Call Jane Eckhoff at 320-308-3293 or email at


Alumni News

Galen PutnamAlumnus Galen Putnam wished the department a "Happy New Year" from Kuwait, where he is working on a video/photo mission to Kuwait, Germany and Italy. He hopes to make it to Korea in March. Pictured is Galen posing with the "last vehicle to leave Iraq."


Alumni Testimonials

While students in broadcast programs at other Universities were 'reading' about writing, producing, editing and shooting, I was DOING it. From freshman year on, all the things we talked about in class were executed in the studio as well. Daily UTVS newscasts, live sports, music videos, every show or shoot was an education in itself. The SCSU Mass Communications department and all it's associated organizations prepared me to hit the ground running, and gave me an edge in a competitive profession.

These days, I field produce, write, produce newscasts, shoot, and produce web content for a top 15 network affiliate. I credit SCSU for giving me my start.

Dana Thiede, Field Producer, Kare 11
Broadcast, 1985


So, I knew I could write and was interested in the communications side of business (and shuddered at the thought of being stuck in Sales or worse yet something like Accounting or Operations)

When I switched my major to P.R. from Business, I immediately felt more at home.  We learned how to write, we learned about different media from Journalism to Public Relations and I had a chance to work in both print (the Chronicle) and Radio (KVSC).  We learned to compose on the fly and to do it under deadline pressure.  The environment was fun, the instructors had a great deal of real life experience in the media and communications world which was very important to me.  The relationships formed during those years continue to be a very valuable part of my life even 30 years later.

Today as a Managing Partner of a direct marketing agency, although I wish I had taken a little more of a rounded curriculum in business to complement my Mass Comm degree, I think what I learned at St. Cloud was absolutely foundational for a business career centering around communication.

Dan Knudsen, Managing Director, Client Services, The Lacek Group, A Division of OgilvyOne
Public Relations, 1977


My experience as an active mass communication student established valuable personal and professional relationships, which continue to flourish more than 10 years later.  These bonds were forged through PRSSA.

In class, I learned the specifics of writing and PR planning. Outside of class, I learned the importance of developing a strong network of friends who share a professional interest.  This is how I got my internship, which led to my first job, which lead to a wonderful experience, which led to my new job!

I am forever grateful for the emphasis the accredited SCSU mass communications program placed on being involved in the professional organizations. It was an investment of time that paid off early and often!

Berta (Shermer) Hartig, Marketing Coordinator, St. Cloud Metro Bus
Public Relations, 1999


The hands-on experience I gained at St. Cloud State through the campus radio station, KVSC, and the campus television station, UTVS, were vital to my growth as a broadcaster. Additionally, having experimented with the wide variety of roles that exist in radio and TV broadcasting, I was able to leave St. Cloud State knowing exactly what type of broadcasting jobs I would most enjoy and excel at doing. I’ve chosen a career outside of broadcasting, but the skills I gained at SCSU remain useful to me today.

Curt Carstensen, Director of Operations, Northwoods League
Broadcasting, 2006


I cherish my four years at St. Cloud State.  I completed the Broadcast sequence, and all but two classes of the Public Relations sequence at the SCSU Mass Communications Department.  I was glad to have the option of variety by working at KVSC, UTVS, and the Sports Information office during my years as a Husky.  The staff was always supportive, but tough on me to get the most out of me.  I appreciate that now because I know they saw potential in me and cared enough to help me find it so I could succeed in real life.  I left SCSU hoping for a career in sports public relations.  I enjoyed internships at USA Hockey in Colorado Springs, CO, and in the PR department for the former Minnesota North Stars.  But you never know where the world will take you.  I’m now in my 14th year as an Information Officer for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, working out of the Brainerd Regional Office.  I still love sports, but my career is scientific, environmental, government communications.  Who knew?  My advice to SCSU students is to make the most of your college years.  Try a lot of things until you find your passion.  Mine is communications.  And I found it at SCSU.

Stephen Mikkelson
Broadcast & Public Relations, 1990


The SCSU Mass Comm program in the late 70s provided me with everything I needed to know to move into professional broadcasting.   I have been in the business now for a very successful and award-winning 30 years and still look back on the education and training I received at SCSU.  All of the awards I have won, an EMMY, a Gerald R. Loeb national award for financial reporting, the AP Wisconsin Newscast of the Year and numerous Northwest Broadcast News Association honors were all based on the solid foundation the SCSU Mass Comm gave to me.

Mike Gaede, Broadcasting Instructor, Northeastern State University
Broadcast, 1980


After attending a private school for journalism for three semesters, I transferred to St. Cloud State University for financial reasons. But it ended up being the best decision in other ways because of the expanded journalism opportunities at University Chronicle and the adjunct faculty connections to local media. I landed my first position right after graduation at the St. Cloud Times and later leveraged that business journalism experience to create a successful marketing and public relations career.

SCSU taught me to stand up and ask for opportunities. I'm still doing that, and I have a very fulfilling career.

Christine Hierlmaier Nelson, Communications Consultant, Ingenuity Marketing Group LLC
Journalism, 1993


I chose to attend SCSU because of the Mass Communications program.  I got involved as a freshman with a few student organizations that are sponsored by the Mass Communications Department. Those organizations and my education gave me the hands on training that helped me get a job after graduation.  I worked with a production company in Los Angeles, CA that had a prime time television program on ABC.

Kelly (Fritz) Mayerle
Broadcast, 1991


St. Cloud State’s Mass Communications department provided the theoretical and hand-on knowledge that gave me an edge when I began my career.  The contacts I made at SCSU were invaluable in securing an internship at a TV station, and later on, a full-time reporting position.  SCSU campus media are not only ideal places to learn, they provide critical information to the university and the greater St. Cloud community.

Phil Ingrassia, V.P. for Communications, RV Dealers Association


My experience overall was a good one. I feel strongly that the coursework aided the development of my skills not just in writing and reporting, but photography and page design gave me a strong advantage over others who were coming into the journalism job market at that time. I was especially impressed with the classes taught by adjunct staff who also had worked or as journalists, photographers and editors, including John Bodette, Mike Vadnie and Mike Knaak.

I also have felt theory coursework such as mass communications law and ethics provided a good base that I have found to have used much more frequently than I expected to over the years.

The mass communications department also provided opportunities outside of the classroom, such as the University Chronicle, an internship program with the Monticello Times and the Society of Professional Journalists gave me a heads-up over the competition.

As someone who has, over the last 12 years, hired many reporters, I would in a minute hire a St. Cloud State University mass communications graduate who takes full advantage of the many opportunities the program offers.

Joel Myhre, General Manager, Fergus Falls Daily Journal
Journalism, 1993


The SCSU Mass Communications Department provided me the knowledge base needed to build a career in marketing and public relations. The faculty was usually available to answer questions and the department’s staff was always very welcoming.

Heath Hickok, Executive Director, Lincoln Park Business Group


As a broadcaster in the St. Cloud area at WJON and KCLD while I studied at SCSU and worked in the KVSC studios I appreciated the opportuities afforded me and the inspiring and thought provoking educational and interpersonal environment(s) of the university and the individuals that formed a valuable molding of who I was to become in life.

The Mass Comm degree gave me a basis to build upon in many areas of my life.  Professionally it served me well in my corporate career and made me a more rounded individual that blended well in the manufacturing sector of electronics and fiber optics.  As a >29 year veteran of this industry that has many design credits within In Flight Entertainment, C4ISR, Communications, Digital Broadcast / Cinema, Geophysical Research and Rail I would like to take this opportunity to thank all that played a very valuable role in my education and life.

Earle Olson, Business Development Manager, Tyco Electronics
Broadcast, 1981


It's been a few years, but I still remember and appreciate the breadth of the curriculum that was offered in what then was a fledgling program at SCSC.  That can be attributed to the skills and enthusiasm of the teachers, my advisor and the department chair.

Pete Holste
Broadcasting, 1973


The Mass Communications department at SCSU was always striving to be cutting edge. At the time, we were linked with local business people to do market research and prepare for Advertising Federation regional competitions. Speakers came to class to share their knowledge of the workplace. The teachers were an eclectic mix of committed, knowledgeable and resourceful people. And finally, the friendships I formed in classes and while being a part of the Advertising Club were some of the strongest I've had in my adult life.

Michael Galligan
Advertising, 1990


When I went out looking for a job in television production, all I really needed to say in my interview was that I was trained at SCSU.  That told him that I knew was I was doing and was ready to work in a professional television environment, because for all intents and purposes, I already had at UTVS.

Robert Becka


I often tell people that choosing to attend St. Cloud State University was the best decision I've ever made.  I enrolled at SCSU in 1994 with dreams of owning my own advertising agency some day and was able to accomplish that goal just 10 years after graduating.  My agency, The JPG Group, has offices in Virginia, Duluth and Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I credit my success to the incredible education I received at SCCU.  The instructors in the Mass Communications department are seasoned professionals who not only have a wealth of experience to share but also have a contagious love for the business. 

Pascha K. Parks, Vice President, The JPG Group
Advertising, 1998


St. Cloud State University’s Mass Communications program provided me with the education and skill set to enter the business world directly out of college. The professors at SCSU are first-class and truly care about their student’s futures. I cannot thank SCSU enough for providing me an excellent college experience!

Nicole Lindaman, Associate Account Executive, Public Affairs Company
Broadcast, 2008


I wanted to give a shout out to my COMM 352 professor, Mark Eden. I have used the knowledge he taught me at both of the jobs I have held since graduation and feel confident in my abilities in the programs that he taught. Roger also taught COMM 352 while I was at SCSU and some of my acquaintances had him for a teacher and learned far less than I did. Mark Eden is by far the best you have on staff in the Mass Comm department and I really appreciate the education I received from him.

Brooke Davis
Advertising, 2008


Several classes that I took at SCSU in the Mass Communications program were especially beneficial to me. I use what I learned in the Journalism and Feature Writing classes almost daily in my present job. Both of those classes were taught by Dana Drazenovich. She was, by far, the teacher I learned most from in the program!

Chris Nelson, Communications Specialist, CentraCare Health System
Public Relations, 2004


A long time has passed since my days at SCSU's Mass Comm Dept.. back then, SCSU Grads consistently heard about how well prepared they were for their career. Hands on experience, excellent instruction and guidance give most SCSU Mass Comm-ers a leg-up on the other newcomers in their field.

Now, many years later, those formative years at SCSU still creep into my professional world. And what was true way back in my SCSU days remains true today. We always notice how ready SCSU Mass Comm Grads are to join our ranks!

Thanks SCSU!!

Jeff Passolt


I could not of had a better educational experience. I didn't just learn from a book, my curriculum was hands-on. I was anchoring LIVE TV newscasts my freshman year of college. My professors had worked in the TV industry, they had connections, and they did what they could to help me get my first job.

James Wilcox, Anchor, KAAL TV, Rochester, MN
Broadcast, 2005


My name is Kristine Smith (1990 alum).  The training and hands-on experience at the School of Mass Communication at St. Cloud State is second to none.  I left St. Cloud with more than a degree because of the "portfolio" of work I'd completed during my tenure as a student in the department.  The professors expected great things, and taught us incredible discipline, accuracy, and creativity.  Post-college, I've worked as a producer for the local NBC affiliate in Minneapolis, worked with an international media agency in Chicago, an international research firm in Bermuda and am now back in the Twin Cities handling marketing and public relations for the organization that hosts the annual Twin Cities Marathon, where we've just brought on an intern from SCSU's mass comm department.  I am proud of the state-of-the-art facilities the department continues to offer and recommend an education there to all who hope to join the world of mass communications after they've completed their college experience.

Kristine Smith, Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Twin Cities In Motion

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