William Paterson University was one of a handful of colleges nationwide selected by NBC Universal as a participant in its bi-annual NBCU Academy Next Level Summit, which seeks to educate and elevate students and working professionals in the journalism, media, and tech industries.

Titled “Know Your Audience,” the summit aired live online on October 19 and shone a bright light on our communication department for a national audience to see. See videos on NBCU Academy’s website.

Isabel Birritteri ’24, a current intern with NBC Universal and news director of WP’s Brave New Radio, served as the on-air host for our University—introducing WP, showing students working in our control room, and “tossing” the mic to our TV studio.

“Isabel was unbelievable as our student reporter,” said WP communication department chairperson Michele Cascardi. “She was confident, smooth, and sharp on her feet giving a flawless opening. We’re so proud of her.”

WP had the special designation of being the first and only college in the history of the Next Level Summit to have a crew of students running the control room and TV studio operations during the live broadcast. Typically, NBC Universal sends its own production crew to each participating campus. WP alumni who work at the network, however, believed in the students’ skills enough to let them get the job done, and they rose to the challenge under the guidance of television studio manager Al Clarke. Our technical team consisted of: Claire Biennesten ’24, Isabella Rocha ’26, Valery Arango ’24, Aria Capria ’26, Sebastian Lara ’25, Jess Carfello ’25, Christopher Cugliari ’26, Delainne Morales ’24, Stephen-Paul Russell ’26, and Johnathan Huertas ’24.

“The team stayed calm, steady, and focused throughout the event,” Cascardi says, giving credit to the “extraordinary” coordination, planning, and teaching Clake provided leading into the broadcast. “They were amazing.”

In the TV studio, WP had a live audience of about 12 students watching and participating in the summit, five of whom were selected to ask questions of the panelists on-air: Kehinde-sierra Adetula ’25, Marc Brandt ’25, Brooke Holzhauer ’27, Christal Fernando ’24, and Nicholas Wilkerson ’26.

“They were outstanding in researching, preparing, rehearsing, and presenting their questions,” Cascardi says of those students. “Their commitment and flexibility were invaluable, especially as the number of questions and panels to which William Paterson may be called kept shifting, even during the live show. They demonstrated poise and a strong work ethic.”

Source: https://www.wpunj.edu/articles/news/2023-10-17/william-paterson-university-nbc-academy-next-level-summit