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Passion Prevails for Sprunt

By Ania Skinner

SOC Barbara Sprunt

Barbara Sprunt, the undergraduate speaker for the School of Communication Commencement ceremony May 10, says her time spent at SOC was essential for shaping her goals for the future and the skills she needed to get there.

A Dean’s Internship for NPR’s All Things Considered during her junior year focused Sprunt’s passion. “I was fortunate to start working at NPR and it was there I realized journalism was something I really liked,” she says. “Without that internship I wouldn’t have known what I wanted to study. The SOC program really helped me define what I wanted for my future.”

One internship led to another and during Sprunt’s final semester, she interned on NPR’s Tell Me More, a daily news talk radio show. That experience segued into a full-time job at NPR following her graduation in December.

“I am the executive assistant to Margaret Low Smith who is the Senior Vice-President for news at NPR. It’s been an amazing experience so far,” she says.

Sprunt says the lessons she learned in the classroom, such as being able to write and communicate effectively, were directly transferable to her work.

“Something SOC emphasizes a lot is networking,” she recalls. “The term always sounded overly formal and stilted to me, but in practice it means being open and engaging with the people around you, and that is what is going to give you a better classroom and work place experience.”

She also emphasized the impact of SOC faculty and staff on her college career.

“SOC is a great combination of professors who are experts in what they teach and staff that are allies for the students,” she says.

Her motivation for speaking at this year’s commencement ceremony stems from her memorable experiences at SOC and her heartfelt desire to give tribute to what SOC has done for her.

Sprunt also shared some of the wisdom she’s gained about identifying and pursuing a passion, something she was able to do by taking advantage of the doors that opened for her.

“Some people get too set on the formula that everyone talks about—take five classes, be a stellar student, intern, be involved on campus, volunteer—Where I think you’ll find success is choosing one or two things that you love and working hard to do them well,” she says.

“At the end of the day, the most important takeaways from college are the knowledge you gained, the experience you had, and the relationships you formed.”

Award-winning journalist and TV personality, Katie Couric, will speak at the 2014 School of Communication commencement ceremony Saturday, May 10, at American University. Ceremonies begin at 9:00 a.m. in AU’s Bender Arena. Learn more