By Yvette Dennis

Alumna Yvonne Dennis from Central High School’s 246th class was honored April 25, 2015, as an alumna of Utica College in upstate New York for her outstanding 24-year career in journalism.IMG_0053 (664x800)
Yvonne was praised for willingness to identify and say ‘yes’ to professional development opportunities, advancing her career prospects each time. Utica professors looked upon Yvonne with pride as a model for current students launching their careers in journalism, public relations, marketing, social media and other forms of mass-media communications.  Yvonne’s success was earned as a result of her strong work ethic, integrity, high performance standards, and her insight to treat every experience, good or bad, as an important step in her journey to a meaningful career in journalism.
Yvonne knew that it was important to make the most of college internships and professional networking groups such as the National Association of Black Journalists.  Through these venues, Yvonne developed her professional skills, benefited from mentoring, expanded her professional network and maintained a competitive advantage in the challenging media world.
Yvonne, in her sophomore year, said ‘yes’ to her first newspaper internship at the Albany Times Union. The experience gave her the competitive edge over other candidates when she subsequently interned at the Times of Trenton, the New York Daily News and the Philadelphia Daily News in her beloved hometown. These experiences led her to her full-time position at the Philadelphia Daily News, followed by the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina and back to Philadelphia, where she stayed at the Daily News for 13-and-a-half more years.
In 2005 Yvonne joined The Wall Street Journal supporting the New York headquarters, then working in the bureaus in Washington, D.C., Brussels, and London, returning to New York in 2013. Yvonne has varied experiences as a news reporter, sports reporter, book reviewer, and mostly as a news editor. Yvonne has remained competitive amid the technological advances and evolution of the news industry, which has changed substantially since she graduated from Utica College in 1991.  Always keeping her eyes on the industry’s development, Yvonne is still a news editor but transitioned to the real-time desk editing articles on the internet for and Dow Jones News Wires.
In her acceptance speech for the Outstanding Public Relations/Journalism Alumna Award, Yvonne emphasized that a successful career in a competitive, ever changing industry is based on one’s staying power. Staying power, she said, is rooted in the old-school values of accuracy, integrity, and hard work.  Journalists are besieged by a popular culture where rushing to get the story first can subvert the importance of getting it right. The impact of getting a story wrong can erode the public’s trust, result in tragic consequences and undermine the industry’s credibility.  Yvonne imparted some valuable advice that has buoyed her throughout her career.
*First, know a little about a lot. Do your own homework and think independently. Read daily from reliable news sources and form your own opinion. Scrutinize opinions delivered as facts and reject news uselessly reduced to sound bites.
*Second, never lose your sense of awe. Always find value in your work, maintain a good attitude and never lose sight of the fact that there are other capable people willing to do your job if you are unwilling to do it effectively.
*Third, be amenable to change. Opportunities for growth can be found almost anywhere: The unpopular project, boring assignment, unpaid internship, new boss, or scary trip might present your chance to shine and catapult you to the next level in your career.
*Fourth, strive to meet high standards. Don’t accept substandard from yourself. Be patient, kind and helpful to others who face challenges in achieving high standards.
Central High School is proud to call Yvonne one of its own for her professional achievements and for tirelessly giving her support to its students. Yvonne serves as a guest lecturer in the journalism class, mentors students, advises on the development of the school’s news and social media outlets, and serves on the alumni board.