Judie Gregory, the Niagara Falls City School District’s Public Relations Director, admits that she has always been impressed by Stacey Czerwinski. Gregory describes Czerwinski, a high school friend of her daughter, as a poised and intelligent young lady with an appreciable sense of self-motivation.
It seemed natural then that when Czerwinski declared communication studies as her major at the beginning of her sophomore year at Niagara University, she and Gregory would expand their relationship to the workplace.
In January 2011, Czerwinski became Gregory’s first-ever intern from Niagara University, initially tasked with drafting press releases and coordinating event details. She was especially involved with a community event in January that celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and honored Niagara University President Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., with the district’s Spirit of Dr. King Award.
Around the same time, Czerwinski joined a small team of Niagara students to launch The Ridge Report, a student-produced news telecast that recently aired its third installment on the university’s website. Even though Czerwinski was pictured in a Buffalo News article highlighting the endeavor, all of her work on The Ridge Report has been behind the scenes.
But someone with Czerwinski’s enthusiasm and charm could not be kept off camera for long. After Czerwinski indicated an interest in broadcast journalism to Gregory, the 11-year school district employee set up a meeting with Niagara University officials to discuss the potential for a television show that would air on the Our Schools Channel (OSC-TV), an educational access station that is produced at Niagara Falls High School (NFHS).
Within a few weeks, NU Now was born.
The program, which finds Czerwinski responsible for set decoration, devising show treatments, and scheduling and interviewing guests, is focused on updating area residents and prospective students on current university initiatives. She receives integral technical support from NFHS Media Education Director Rich Meranto and his legion of high school media production assistants.
For Czerwinski, her work on The Ridge Report and NU Now, only two episodes old, has already provided her with precious experience.
“I would love to get into broadcast journalism or public relations after graduation,” said the North Tonawanda High School alumna. “Being behind the lens (for The Ridge Report) gave me a much better idea of what to do and what not to do while on set and it also made my first taping as host a lot less intimidating because I knew what it was like to be on the other side of the camera.”
Czerwinski recorded the first edition of NU Now in late February, interviewing Mike Konopski, Niagara’s Dean of Enrollment Management, and Vince Schiano, a fellow NU student, about issues related to the college transition, including class sizes, financial aid and community service.
Gregory, for one, was impressed.
“Stacey is so naturally poised in whatever she does that I was not at all surprised that that poise came across well on TV,” she said.
With one show under her belt, Czerwinski moved on to the next challenge: interviewing the president of her university.
“I had the good fortune of meeting Father Levesque during the Dr. King awards ceremony and it was clear that he was very charismatic, the perfect type of person to appear on a television show,” Czerwinski said. “It was truly an honor to have someone who is so well-respected – not only at the university level, but in the community as well – take the time to be interviewed on a student-produced TV show. Not many students get to chat with the university president on television!”
While that episode served as the latest demonstration of Father Levesque’s eagerness to involve himself with university students and Czerwinski’s ability to land and speak on camera with distinguished guests, it also put the collaborative nature of three of Niagara County’s leading educational institutions on full display.
Here was a Niagara University student (Czerwinski) interviewing the university’s president (Father Levesque), along with the principal of Niagara Catholic (Robert DiFrancesco) and a Niagara Catholic-turned-Niagara University student (Jolene Lambert) – at Niagara Falls High School.
“Niagara University and the Niagara Falls City School District, in particular, have many productive and valuable partnerships, and this is just the most recent example,” stated Gregory, noting the district’s relationship with the NU’s College of Education and ReNU Niagara. “The OSC is a community resource that just happens to be run by students at our high school. It is educational access after all; we are thrilled that Stacey is using it to promote education.”
Czerwinski’s training with Gregory will end at the conclusion of the semester in May, at which time she is planning to commence a summer internship at CBS-TV in New York City.
Would she be willing to resume NU Now when she returns to Monteagle Ridge in the fall?
“If requested, I would be more than happy to do this again next year.”
Better yet, would she be invited to do so?
“Stacey is welcome to continue taping NU Now for as long as she wants,” Gregory confirmed. “If I could convince her to stay in my office longer, I would take that, too!”
NU Now can be seen locally at various times on Time Warner Cable Channel 21 or online at www.nfschools.net.
To learn more about Niagara University’s communication studies programs, please visit www.niagara.edu/communication.