Media-club headliners to be inducted into Knightly News Hall of Fame Nov. 9

Read about four alums’

time with the media club

By Lawrence Wilson

Knightly News Contributor

Michael Lear-Olimpi

Knightly News Editor and Club Co-adviser

and Paul Miller

Knightly News Podcast Producer and Club Co-adviser

While working on their Central Penn College corporate communications and general communications degrees, students learn to ask questions and to find answers.

They learn how to analyze their world and to tell people about what they see.

Then, using answers they find, and knowledge and skills acquired during their hands-on classes, they become professional communicators.

Read the sketches below of four Central Penn communications-degree graduates who will be inducted into The Knightly News Media Club Hall of Fame at the college on Nov. 9.

Some questions, and answers

So, here’s a question for you: What happens after you graduate from high school, where you were an announcer for high school sports contests and you want to study communications?

Of course you attend Central Penn to earn a communications degree.

Oh, right – and you also become a sports announcer for a professional minor-league baseball team.

Brian Christiana

That’s what Central Penn alum Brian Christiana did.

His journey to the working world began at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional High School, in Shamokin, where he was a sportscaster calling Lourdes games, to working as a sportscaster for the Lancaster Barnstormers.

His trip toward success is heralded in his activities in The Knightly News Media Club @ Central Penn College, where, as president (one of many roles he played), he interviewed guest celebrities, and Central Penn faculty, staff and students for the club’s podcast, skills he learned from veteran broadcaster Assistant Professor of Media Studies Paul Miller; wrote stories for The Knightly News blog under the tutelage of longtime journalist, Assistant Professor of Communications Michael Lear-Olimpi; and provided color commentary for live broadcasts of Central Penn baseball and basketball games with Miller.

So, here’s another question.

What happens when you’re widowed in midlife with two teenage sons to raise and you’re looking to start a new chapter in life?

You can do what Christine Fusselman did.

Christine Fusselman

Fusselman also decided to apply to Central Penn, where she scored success in the 1980s in the travel-and-tourism program, which the school no longer offers.

After being accepted to Central Penn the second time, Fusselman shot full-steam ahead, and made the change she needed by studying corporate communications.

“Changes were happening,” she said.

Fusselman said the changes were scary and exciting, but she welcomed them, and she knew she would succeed.

She figured corporate communications would expand her understanding of cultures around her.

During that time, Fusselman became a founding member of The Knightly News Media @ Central Penn College. She attended initial meetings with club co-founder and co-adviser Lear-Olimpi to help hammer out a mission statement, bylaws and the club’s first story assignments.

As the club’s first president, Fusselman helped introduce The Knightly News – along with its Facebook and Twitter accounts – to the world by assisting club co-founder and co-adviser Miller launch podcasts, and by helping to acquire the equipment to produce them. She was a regular writing stories about campus happenings and people, and taking photos to accompany those stories.

What are some of Fusselman’s takeaways from her studies at Central Penn and her work with The Knightly News?

  • Don’t box yourself in. You can learn various skills, and use them.
  • Build relationships. The connections you make with faculty and staff, and other students – and people about whom you produce stories and podcasts – can help you succeed.
  • Ethics. She learned beyond the basics, in-depth, from Lear-Olimpi, a media ethicist, about journalism ethics, such as by “checking boxes” while developing stories.

Now living in the Poconos and working at a property-association organization, Fusselman enjoys using the skills and knowledge she gathered at Central Penn and reminiscing about her days with The Knightly News.

Sherri Long

portrait of Sherri Long

All right.

Let’s consider another inductee – Sherri Long.

Long was raising a son and a daughter while working full-time as a freelance graphic designer in her own publication-design company when she decided a few years ago to reenter Central Penn.

She knew about the school because she was another returning student. She, too, had been enrolled in the travel-and-tourism program in the 1980s.

The decision to return paid off.

Long recently earned a Bachelor of Science in corporate communications.

She had worked for nearly 20 years as owner and chief graphic designer for Double Click Design, producing periodicals for an insurance association, along with other assignments.

Now she is design coordinator for the Center for Schools and Communities, in Camp Hill.

Once on campus the second time, Long didn’t hesitate to join The Knightly News.

“I wanted to join the club because I wanted to apply what I was learning about communications in class,” she said.

Long wrote stories and took photos for The Knightly News, and participated in fundraisers. She also was club president.

Writing experience she gained in the club sharpened Long’s role as a design coordinator at her job, where she manages over 20  websites, creates digital campaigns for events, including webinars, and provides other communications services.

What were some of Long’s takeaways from her Central Penn communications studies and her work with The Knightly News?

  • Strengthening her skills in producing podcasts, and adding to her experience with them.
  • Helping increase Knightly News Club membership (one of Long’s goals as club president).
  • Enriching her networking skills.

Nasir Harris

Posthumous recognition will be given to former Knightly News Media Club member Nasir Harris.  He began his college journey at Shippensburg University as a communications student, also taking an active role in the campus radio station, WSYC, as “Big Nas” manned the board and developed a following on campus.

Even after a successful start to college, Harris left Shippensburg for a variety of reasons. After taking some time away from school, he found his way to Central Penn.

From the day he stepped on campus, he was ready to get involved with campus life, including joining the newly formed Knightly News Media Club. 

Here is where Harris shined. The members of the club were branching out beyond The Knightly News online newspaper into podcasting, but none of the other members had much, if any, experience in audio. 

Initially, and prior to the podcast studio, the club used the Center for Teaching Excellence – where faculty and some others made audio and video recordings – as a makeshift studio while the club was securing funding for audio equipment needed to create a podcast studio. While not quite what the podcast studio is today, the early studio served its purpose.

Still, that was not enough for Harris. He could always be counted on to be a part of the podcast itself, serving as cohost on many of the early episodes, including Episodes #1 and #3. In Episode #1, Harris begins speaking at about the 10-minute mark. In Episode #3, he and Miller are featured throughout.

In addition, Harris was an anchor in early club fundraising efforts for the equipment needed for the podcast studio, helping to raise hundreds of dollars needed to procure the control board, microphones and headsets.

Unfortunately, just as Big Nas was finding his stride at the college and with the club, he passed away after a brief illness. 

After the striking blow to the club and the campus community, Knightly News members decided they wanted to recognize Harris’ efforts in getting student podcasting off the ground.

So, club members at the time agreed that the best way to memorialize Harris was to name the newly minted podcast studio in his honor.

So, on Sept. 21, 2017, Knightly News Media Club members, faculty, staff and alumni gathered on the Boyer House lawn at Central Penn to dedicate the podcast studio in his name, and the Nasir Harris Podcast Studio was born.

Even though the podcast studio has moved from the Boyer House to Milano Hall, the name is, and will forever be, in honor of the man who was instrumental in the creation of the studio that he would  never see.

Every person who walks into the studio sees the plaque that was dedicated in his honor and, hopefully, appreciates the efforts of Big Nas in creating something that is so important to so many.

The wrap-up, the honors

And there you have it – as the ubiquitous and usually invisible “they” say: a sports broadcaster, a decision-maker in a property-association organization, a design coordinator for an education organization and a podcaster/radio personality, all of whom were members of The Knightly News Club @ Central Penn College, and one of them a founder.

These Central Penn communications alums have made their mark, at CPC and in the professional world, and have earned a spot in the club’s hall of fame.

Christiana, Fusselman, Long and Harris will be inducted on Nov. 9 in a ceremony from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Central Penn Conference Center, on the ground floor of the Advanced Technology Education Center (ATEC) Building, at Valley Road and B Street, in Summerdale.

Knightly News Hall of Fame

Inductions – Central Penn College

Tuesday, November 9, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Wilson is a Central Penn organizational leadership graduate who remains a contributor to The Knightly News.

Lear-Olimpi is assistant professor of communications at Central Penn and co-adviser of The Knightly News Club. He edits stories posted to the blog, and teaches student reporters how to produce those stories and the photographs that accompany them.

Miller is assistant professor of communications at Central Penn and co-adviser of The Knightly News Club. He produces and instructs students on how to conduct and produce The Knightly News Podcast and also manages the crew for our athletics broadcasts.

The Knightly News thanks Central Penn Assistant Registrar Nancy Lockwood for research assistance in producing this article.

Have a question of a comment? Contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.

Edited by club co-adviser and blog editor Professor Michael Lear-Olimpi.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the location of the Center for Schools and Communities to Camp Hill, instead of Harrisburg. The Knightly News strives for accuracy. Please let us know when we should make a correction. Thanks!