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stony brook commencement

Some of the SBU SoCJ graduates at commencement. Photo by Julianne Mosher

As part of the dozen small commencement ceremonies that occurred last week at Stony Brook University, TBR News Media wanted to give a special congratulations to the graduates of the Stony Brook University School of Communication and Journalism.

We stopped by their graduation on Thursday, May 20, to talk to a few future reporters about why they chose the profession and what journalism means to them. 

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Melissa Azofeifa

“I chose journalism because I’m very much a people person,” said Hampton Bays local Melissa Azofeifa. “I love talking to people and hearing their stories.”

With the goal to be a multimedia journalist after graduation, she said she can’t wait to continue her journey as a reporter.

“I’ve learned a lot, but I know there’s a lot more to learn to accurately tell someone else’s story,” she said.

While in school, she was managing editor of the university newspaper, The Statesman.


Photo from James Bowen

James Bowen

James Bowen, a senior from Ossining, received the Carol Chernow Memorial Scholarship, which supports young writers interested in pursuing careers in journalism.

He said he always wanted to be a television reporter, and after his studies at the SoCJ, he landed a job — starting this week— at a news station in Tyler, Texas.

“I knew that journalism was a facet for me because it would allow me to be on TV, either for meteorology or Spanish sports coverage. In the end, it ended up being news, which is the start of it all, but I know that I can maximize my talents there,” he said. “Plus, I love talking to people so it’s just a perfect fit.”



Photo from Kimberly Brown

Kimberly Brown

TBR News Media intern Kimberly Brown began writing for our six newspapers in December 2020. Over the last five months, she has covered everything from small business to police reform. 

“I went into journalism because I have a passion for writing,” she said. “If I’m not writing, I’m not happy.”

After graduation, the Seaford native hopes to continue working with community news.

“I really liked supporting my local community and doing local journalism,” she said. “It’s become my passion and I had the best mentors at TBR to help me and guide me.”



Photo by Julianne Mosher

Brianne Ledda

SoCJ graduate Brianne Ledda said she has already been hired at another local paper starting this summer. The Miller Place resident will be working as a reporter with the Times Review Media Group in Riverhead.

During her time at SBU, she held the title of editor-in-chief of the Stony Brook Statesman. She was the recipient of The Alumni Association Dean’s Choice Award, which recognizes a highly accomplished and exceptional graduating senior. 

“I chose journalism because I love to learn and I wanted to pick a career that would allow me to continue doing that and interacting with the world around me,” she said. 



Photo by Julianne Mosher

Alek Lewis

Riverhead resident Alek Lewis started in journalism after taking an elective course at Suffolk County Community College. He realized there that he wanted to write and he was good at it. 

After transferring to Stony Brook, he said his love for journalism continued to grow. 

“Now, it’s something I’m super passionate about. And it’s what I want to do, possibly for the rest of my life,” he said. “So, this degree is a testament to the hard work that I put in, and I know that the work’s only going to get harder.”


Andrew Zucker and Kimberly Brown. Photo by Julianne Mosher

TBR wants to give a special congrats to our intern Kimberly Brown and freelance writer Andrew Zucker on their graduation. We’re all so proud of you both!