Alumni Profile: Steve Bottari

Submitted by Web Communications on June 13, 2011

Communication is at the foundation of everything we do … To be in a field that is engrained into every facet of life brings with it a constant excitement to the scholarship.

Steve Bottari ’11

Hometown: Chelmsford, MA

Majors: Communication, Politics

Extracurricular: President, The HAM Channel; Political Correspondent, WVOF; Contributing Writer, The Mirror; Service Trip to Duran, Ecuador, Ignatian Solidarity Corp; General Committee Chair, FUSA; Your Mom Does Improv, Improvisational Comedy Actor

Honors: Valedictorian; Dean’s List 2007-2011; Outstanding Service in Communication, Dept. of Communication 2011; Eagle Scout; Senior Research Thesis selected for Depauw University National Undergraduate Honors Conference

Honor Societies: Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Sigma Nu, Pi Sigma Alpha, Alpha Mu Gamma, Lambda Pi Eta

Awards: Telly Award, 2010; Award of Excellence, The Videographer Awards, 2010; Sony Award for “Best Live Game” College Sports; Cinefest Fairfield Official Selection

Why did you choose communication as your major?

Communication is at the foundation of everything we do. Certainly words are communication – symbols we’ve created – but it doesn’t stop there. Numbers are communication. Non-verbal gestures are communication. Silence, even, is communication.

I chose the field of communication because of this foundational aspect to it – it’s rooted in everything and so it’s useful in everything. Every field requires effective communication skills and Fairfield’s program has world-class professors who make the subject come to life.

Communication has this dynamic interdisciplinary makeup that allows one to study the media, families, religion, relationships, gender, sexuality, and tons more fascinating subjects. As one of my professors always said: “You can’t not communicate.” To be in a field that is engrained into every facet of life brings with it a constant excitement to the scholarship.

You mentioned the Core in your valedictorian speech – how did the core help you during your academic career at fairfield?

I love television. Right now, like half of the shows on network television are crime dramas, especially on CBS, with CSI, NCIS, and every spin-off thereof. The CSIs really fascinated me, but truth be told I’ve never been particularly adept when it comes to hard science. Yet, my senior year at Fairfield, I found myself in the Connecticut State Crime lab in Hamden, Conn. being handed the casing of a bullet that had just been fired in the testing chamber.

Through the core curriculum I was able to take a Forensic Science class and live out my CSI dreams in an environment that introduced science in a way that non-scientific people like myself can understand. Overall, that was the greatest part of the core – it took me out of my comfort zone into classes I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise, like the Forensics course and like a course I took on the Human Genome. The amazing thing is how applicable and interconnected all these courses have been in connection with my major. I found myself drawing examples and themes from core classes into my major classes constantly.

The best thing about the core is this: College is 4 years to explore and study anything. It’s about finding passions and hobbies and callings – and being encouraged (read: required) to do that exploration in fields outside of one’s major and comfort zone makes a student well-rounded. Regardless of career, being well-rounded is an asset.

What makes Fairfield the right choice for an aspiring journalist?

Fairfield inspires a curiosity about the world in its students. More than being able to write a lead or tape a standup or any other skill, curiosity is the single most important trait for a journalist to have – the gift to see something and to automatically want to know more. At Fairfield, in every subject we’re constantly encouraged to question, seek answers, want to know more. That’s good journalism.

what does the term “global citizen” mean to you?

Four years ago I wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint Nicaragua on a map. Today, I can say I’ve lived there. My experiences at Fairfield inspired me to seek a true immersion experience for study abroad, one that most college students would never even think about doing. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere (only behind Haiti), and 80% of its people live on less than $2 a day. When I say the experience was true immersion, I mean that I lived with a local Nicaraguan family who spoke only Spanish, I took my classes in Spanish with local students and taught by Nicaraguan professors, and I made local friends. In those 4 months there, I went from being an outsider to a Nicaraguan. I was fully-immersed in the culture and it completely changed the way I view and relate to the world.

I think that’s what being a global citizen is all about as well. It’s about challenging the way you view the world by getting out into it and seeing things that move you, that inspire you, and that challenge you. It’s in seeing the world that you see the world differently. Fairfield is always about getting students out into the world to see it for themselves.

The other aspect of being a global citizen is, in paraphrasing U2’s Bono, “distance no longer determines who your neighbor is.” In effect, we are all citizens of the world – not just our nations (which are, in political science terms, “imagined communities”). And as citizens of the world we have certain universal rights and responsibilities to ourselves, to others, and to our planet.

now that you’ve graduate fairfield, can you answer the following questions: 1) Who am I?; 2) Whose am I?; 3) Who am I called to be?

From the Ignatian Residential College to a service trip in Ecuador, I’ve spent a lot of time with these 3 fundamental Ignatian questions and I can happily and honestly report: I still don’t know the answers. In fact, I probably never will know the answers and that’s totally cool – the answers aren’t the point. When it comes to discovering yourself and your place in the world, it’s a lifelong exploration with no destination. I have inklings; for instance, I really feel a calling towards being able to help people share their stories through journalism. But I feel that if I knew the answers to these 3 questions, I wouldn’t be growing; I wouldn’t be fully alive. This is one of those paradoxical instances where life – and living it to the fullest – is much more about the questions and the quest for the answers than the answers themselves.

what are your plans now?

I will be pursuing a Master’s in journalism at Newhouse School of Communication. Two main factors played into my decision to pursue my Master’s rather than dive straight into the working world. First, I have a very specific career goal: I want to be a national morning news anchor. To get there, it’s going to take years of smaller markets working my way up with some creative career choreography. There were some job offers and opportunities, but none that would allow me to be on-camera anchoring from day one. Getting my Master’s will afford me that chance to anchor from day one and to put me into the best place to reach my aspirations. Second, I will be an Instructional Associate at Newhouse starting in the fall, meaning I’ll get to work side-by-side with Newhouse professors – some of the brightest people in the field – and help them with their undergraduate classes. It’s possible I’ll even be teaching on my own. Fairifield professors have instilled in me a strong desire to continue with “the life of the mind” and to continue with scholarship. If I could grow up to be anything like the amazing communication professors at Fairfield, that’d be a great life. So one day I may head back to school one final time for my doctorate in Communication and become Professor Bottari; for now, it’s the Master’s first and then right into the TV world.

what do you miss the most at fairfield?

Fairfield is a beautiful campus with some impressive buildings, activities, and traditions – but what I miss the most about Stag Country isn’t the place, it’s the people. For 4 years, we spent our days with people who became lifelong friends. There’s also the amazing professors and professional staff at Fairfield who make the Fairfield experience. Truthfully, I’ll also miss brunch at Barone – Chris and his staff do a phenomenal job with the food and you can’t beat the atmosphere that the Barone dining room has…or the waffle maker that imprints a Stag on your breakfast.

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