My time at Columbia really shaped the rest of my life. With the master’s degree, I have been able to teach at the college level and that has become a rewarding part of my career and life. Beyond that, the Columbia experience made me aware of the potential to tell meaningful stories and to connect with newsmakers. More than that, the experience helped me set a high standard for my future work.
I learned that quality matters, and I have worked hard every day since graduating to maintain high standards for my own work and for the craft of journalism. It’s something that I try to pass along to my students.
As a journalist, I learned to ask difficult questions and to quickly synthesize information into meaningful stories. I remember walking the streets of Harlem looking for an immigrant to interview about their life story, for an assignment. After hours of being afraid to talk with anyone, I finally wandered into a senior center and found lots of people willing and eager to tell me their stories. It was a breakthrough moment about overcoming the fear of interacting with strangers.
Andrew Conte, journalism class of 1997, recently published his third book, a children’s title, “All About Roberto Clemente.” The story follows Clemente’s athleticism on the baseball diamond but also tells a larger tale about how he was an American pioneer for Latinos and especially people from the Caribbean. The book targets readers in the 4th to 6th grades. Andrew’s two previous nonfiction books for adults, Breakaway and The Color of Sundays, were re-released in the fall of 2016 in paperback. The Independent Book Publishers Association gave a silver Ben Franklin Award to The Color of Sundays, which tells the story of the first African-American players in the National Football League. Andrew works as the founding director of the Center for Media Innovation at Pittsburgh’s Point Park University.