Gift from alumnus bolsters Hall of Fame Scholarships

Amir Vera (B.S.’14/MC) always knew he wanted to be a writer but wasn’t sure what to do with his talent until he participated in a journalism workshop offered at the Robertson School of Media and Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University. His Prince George High School English instructor thought the experience might help him become a better editor.

Not only did the workshop help him reach that goal, but it also helped him grow as a writer and make the decision to attend VCU.

Today, the Robertson School alumnus is a news writer at the Petersburg (Va.) Progress-Index, covering Dinwiddie and Prince George counties, his old stomping grounds.

Vera credits his VCU professors for his productive path into journalism.

“All of my professors at Robertson had real-world experience, especially in classes like Capital News Service and Social Media Journalism,” he said.

While a student, Vera received an extra boost as a recipient of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame Scholarship.

Established in 1992, the $1,000 Virginia Communications Hall of Fame merit scholarship is awarded annually to an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in one of the Robertson School’s three academic tracks: advertising, journalism or public relations.

Mark Raper (B.S.’82/MC), fellow Robertson School alumnus, Hall of Fame inductee and president of PadillaCRT, one of the country’s top 10 independent public relations agencies, made a $10,000 gift to the school in December 2013 to help keep those real-world experiences available to students like Vera.

Hosted every spring by the Robertson School, the annual Virginia Communications Hall of Fame event honors outstanding careers of professional communicators across the commonwealth and introduces scholarship recipients to attendees. George Crutchfield, founding director of the VCU School of Mass Communications, established the program in 1986.

Raper’s gift to the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame helps lessen the financial burden of staging the event so that more funds can be put toward the scholarship endowment.

“The Hall of Fame event celebrates great achievements within the communications industries and it helps spotlight the Robertson School,” Raper said. “I would put top Robertson students up against students anywhere.”

The event also makes a long-term impact on students, said Robertson School Director Hong Cheng, Ph.D., allowing them to meet highly successful practitioners.

“Inductees are invited to give remarks, and they are very inspiring,” Cheng said. “Our students hear stories of their careers and their lives. It broadens their horizons and introduces them to role models. It also gives students the opportunity to meet professionals like Mark Raper, to whom we are very grateful for his support.”

And Raper is grateful for the VCU Robertson School of Media and Culture.

“I’m proud that I’m associated with an organization that takes the time and effort to align itself to celebrate the achievement of those who are doing it better than anyone else.”

To learn more about the Robertson School of Media and Culture, contact Lauren Stewart (B.S.’10/H&S; M.S.’11/H&S), assistant director for development, at 804-827-3761 or