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Today@Sam Article


Mass Comm Major Takes Steps Toward Future Through Governors' Board Appointment

Sept. 23, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt
Story By: Marissa Nunez

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Cheznay Dones in front of the Dan Rather Building
Senior mass comm major Cheznay Dones has been guided by her grandmother's words to never forget where she came from. Despite early obstacles faced while living with her grandmother, Dones has stayed the course and is slowly, but surely, taking steps at SHSU to ensure that her dreams come true. —Photo by Brian Blalock


Sam Houston State University distinguished alumnus Dan Rather once said, “If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey, most of us would not start at all” and that “true courage is being afraid but persevering through those obstacles.”

In many ways, senior mass communication major Cheznay Dones has come to embody those two quotes.

Growing up in the small Northwest Houston suburb of Studewood, Dones was raised primarily by her grandmother and faced many obstacles growing up.

“I grew up in an extremely urban environment, and I have worked to overcome a lot of financial hardship,” Dones said. “My grandmother is my guardian angel, my rock, and I firmly believe that if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here right now.”

After graduating from high school, Dones headed to SHSU to pursue a degree in broadcast journalism in hopes of one day becoming an entertainment reporter, but she found that the road to that dream has not been easy so far.

Dones with film professor Tom Garrett
Dones's "Cannes-do" attitude has led to an internship in France with Nu Image (above, with film professor Tom Garrett), where she also worked for James Franco and reported from the red carpet (below, with fellow Bearkats who went on the Cannes trip in 2013). —Submitted photos
Dones at Cannes with fellow students

“I have had problems, as I’m sure all students have, but I know that if I work hard, believe in myself—and with the added support from my family and friends—things can’t go anywhere but up,” Dones said.

Through the many roadblocks life has thrown in front of her, Dones has been able to learn and accomplish things she didn’t realize she was capable of.

In 2013, she was among a group of mass communication students selected to attend the Cannes Film Festival in France with associate professor of film Tom Garrett.

While in France, Dones was able to work with Nu Image/Millenium Films; intern for various celebrities, including James Franco; and work with the cast of the film “As I Lay Dying.” She attended nightly movie premieres with top celebrities, and even had the chance to report from the red carpet.

“Visiting France was pretty much the best experience of my life and I thank professor Garrett so much for believing in me and knowing that I could do it,” Dones said.

The trip also taught her to work hard in any situation that she might think is impossible and that with the support of her professors, friends, and family she can slowly, but surely, take steps that will help make her dreams come true.

In doing so, she has been a reporter and anchorwoman for Channel 7 News; a student assistant for the Global Center for Journalism and Democracy; film venue staff member for the South By Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival; produced and edited news segments for Channel 7; and is currently interning for the City of Conroe communications department.

She will also be joining the Bearkat Sports Network this fall.

Another big accomplishment was her recent appointment to the National Broadcasting Society-Alpha Epsilon Rho’s Board of Governors. Only two students in the nation are selected for the board each year.

Dones decided to apply for the student governor position last year and was appointed in April to a one-year term.

The application required students to write various essays explaining why they wish to be a member of the board of governors, the skills or experience they would bring, and about their lives. They also had to submit a completed candidate declaration form, provide a letter of recommendation from the applicant’s adviser and a list of NBS-AERho-related activities the applicant participated in, and were required to have attended the annual NBS-AERho convention.

Dones with Tim Blake Nelson
Dones, on the red carpet with Tim Blake Nelson, with whom she worked on "As I Lay Dying." —Submitted

Dones believes it was her essay about her childhood and the obstacles she overcame that made her stand out, and ultimately win the coveted position from, among 1,000 other applicants from all over the nation.

“I feel like a lot of the other applicants from the bigger named schools probably came from more financially stable families,” Dones said.

The student governors’ roles include serving as a liaison for students to the board of governors and relaying information about what they would like to see done throughout the year, as well as topic and speaker ideas for the convention.

“We plan the student part of the convention, so what we do is ask who the students would like to come see talk at the convention, ideas for panels, location choices, or anything that they might want to see at the convention; then we pass that on to the board of governors,” Dones said.

The NBS-AERho was founded in 1941 as a student and professional society whose goal is to prepare students for careers in electronic media industries by connecting them with practicing professionals, as well as emphasizing industry ethics, diversity, and inclusiveness.

It is comprised of 85 chapters on colleges, universities, and community colleges across the country, and each year the organization hosts their national convention where industry professionals come to talk to student members about various topics inside the electronic media world.

During the previous convention, members traveled to Los Angeles, where speakers included Food Network host Marc Summers; director and executive producer of Comedy Central’s “Tosh.O” Scott Zabielski; president of Sony Pictures Television Steve Mosko; and many others.

Through all the success and accomplishments she has achieved so far, Dones remembers something her grandmother always told her while growing up: “never forget where you come from and who has gotten you to where you are today.”

“There are always going to obstacles that seem unfair and there are always going to be people who disagree with you, but you must keep your head held high and never let anyone tell you you're not good enough and if you feel like the world is crashing down, always keep your head up and know that it will get better,” she said.




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