CSUDH Tribute to Professor Leigh Hess

Professor Leigh Hess and I

California State University of Dominguez Hills Professor Leigh Hess was honored at the 25th Annual Communications Banquet for his outstanding contributions to the Communications Department, and his students over the past 30 years.

Amusingly, Hess had no idea that he was going to be honored, but everyone else did. Thus, I planned an interview with him before he was recognized, and then managed a follow-up interview.

Here’s what Hess had to say about the joyous occasion:

Q: How are you doing today?

“This is a fun thing. This is a really great and rewarding experience to come here and see all the students I’ve had in classes, such as you, and other students who are either current students or students who are graduating and look around and think maybe in about five years from now you’ll all be seen as very successful.”

Q: Did you enjoy Beverly White’s speech?

Beverly White was wonderful in her speech. Both my wife and I have admired her for many years. I as a former television news caster admire her for her extreme professionalism, and my wife has just admired her as a wonderful television news caster in our Los Angeles area.”

Q: Have you seen any of your previous students here today?

“There are some who came by. Some just shook my hand, and that was a good thing to know. We kind of touched bases, wished each other well, and so forth… I can’t think of any who actually told me where they are now, but I’m more interested in students, such as yourself, who are current students, like I say, and are going to go out. The world is kind of open to you right now. It’s a very difficult world to get into, I realize that, but it’s still wide open, and I admire your youth.”

Q: What’s one key advice that you would give a soon to be graduate student?

“Be able to roll with the punches. Get as much education in as many areas as possible. Take it with you outside of the classroom into the real world and be able to utilize it. Don’t just forget it once you have your final exam. Take it with you into the real world, and then be able to apply it into whatever aspects of the Communications field you go into. Keep in mind, that the first job you get in Communications will likely not be the last… It’s just your first job, and get as much out of it as you possibly can. Network as well as you can of course, get as much experience as you can, and then move on and keep your eyes on that prize.”

Q: What would you recommend a soon to be graduate student, not to do?

“Don’t get too discouraged. I know it’s going to be a very difficult world out there, but don’t get too discouraged. Realize that it’s just kind of a numbers game. It’s like being in sales. I was in sales for a while, and they tell you it’s a numbers game. Don’t let a non-sale stop you. You figure okay that was it, now is square zero, and the rest of the world is ahead of me, just keep on going from there.”

Here’s what Hess had to say after he was honored:

Q:How did it feel being honored today?

“I’m still overwhelmed. I really am because I had no idea it was going to be anything at all like that. I thought maybe they’d say this is our official opportunity to end your employment at Cal Sate Dominguez Hills, or something, so I wouldn’t be able to say no. But, to have it be as wonderful as it was, and with everybody saying everything that they did. I’m just doing my job here, but I’m enjoying the heck out of it. I hope I’ll be able to continue to do so, and all of you current students, I hope you come back and share your successes with me.”

Q: Did you enjoy watching me cry and making a fool of myself after I won the “Outstanding Media Studies Student” Award?

“Well, those are real emotions. That’s what life is all about. It’s not about covering up your emotions, but it’s sharing them with the people that care about you. I was very happy to see that. Thank you, that was a wonderful gift.

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