Student speaker urges strength amid uncertainty
By Hope Green
As a journalism intern in Washington, D.C., last fall, Sorboni Banerjee had bigger things to fret about than deadlines
-- like remembering to take her daily dose of Cipro.
Working in the capital during the September 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent anthrax scare, Banerjee (COM'02) quickly
learned to put her fears aside. When she speaks at the May 19 Commencement exercises, she says, her address will be "a message
to be strong in uncertain times."
Earlier this semester, President Jon Westling invited the University's
most academically accomplished seniors to submit a speech draft. A committee of faculty members and administrators received
35 submissions and heard 4 finalists deliver their drafts before selecting Banerjee to speak to the class of 2002.
address will touch briefly on her experiences in the College of Communication's Washington Journalism Program. She was in
a political reporting seminar the morning of September 11 when one of the four hijacked planes smashed into the Pentagon.
That same day, she was scheduled to debut as a correspondent for the Keene (N.H.) Sentinel, working out of COM's D.C. newsroom.
With little time to absorb the shocking images on television, she first called her parents in Rhode Island, then dove into
her first assignment: tracking down and interviewing New Hampshire congressmen after they had been evacuated from Capitol
Several weeks later, she wrote a first-person account for the paper about living with the anthrax threat. She
had visited the fifth floor of the Hart Senate Office Building on the same day Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle received
his contaminated letter, and although she tested negative for exposure, she received a 60-day supply of Cipro as a precaution.
"It was surreal being down there in Washington," she says. "In a way, I felt safer there, because I always felt that if
something happened, I was going to be the first to hear about it."
A broadcast journalism major, Banerjee has few qualms
about speaking to a crowd. In April she was on a COM Great Debate team that spoke against the United States removing Saddam
Hussein from power. She has performed with the BU Stage Troupe, most recently as Miss Prism in Oscar Wilde's The Importance
of Being Earnest.
"I came to COM because I liked theater and art and writing, and I didn't really know what to do
with it," she says. She started as an advertising major, then switched to broadcast journalism midway through her sophomore
year. "I realized it was everything I like to do. You can be theatrical and interact with people every day, and when you're
editing a video it's almost like a piece of artwork."
The daughter of an engineering and physics teacher and a social
worker, Banerjee has had internships at a CBS affiliate in her home state of Rhode Island, at WHDH (NBC Channel 7) in Boston,
and at New England Cable News. While in Washington, she also interned at Belo Broadcasting.
After graduation she will
be sending her résumé and a demo tape to small television stations. "With on-air reporting, you have to start at the bottom
and work your way up," she says. "Eventually, I really want to get back to reporting from Washington again."