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Keith Marjani: Discovering Self and Career

After years of searching for his calling, Keith Marjani settled at CCSU and thanks to his professors, classes, and hard work is now a successful full-time student, part-time writer in the University Relations Office, and on-air television personality at ESPN. As a communication major, Marjani is applying CCSU’s resources and educational experience to advance toward his planned future career as a sports reporter. Robert Kagan, adjunct lecturer of communication, notes, “In my 20-plus years of teaching, I’ve found Keith to be one of the most outstanding students with which I have had the privilege of working. His work at ESPN is first rate and will serve him well in the future.”

After graduating from Kent School in northwest CT, Marjani enrolled at Ithaca College, but after two years there he postponed his education and began working as a bartender. With, he says, little direction in life, he decided to travel the U.S. in hopes the experience would lead him to discover his career and personal goals. His high school friends were scattered across various states, providing an excuse to travel. He said, “We all have different backgrounds, and this was a good opportunity to learn about other cultures and ways of life. I’ve been to 40 states.”  During his time of exploration, Marjani enrolled at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he pursued a double major in history and political science. Dissatisfied with his classroom experience and education, he again set out to find his niche in the world.

Finding Direction at CCSU
Marjani moved back to Connecticut at age 24 to become reacquainted with his roots and settle on a satisfying and productive scholastic career that would enable him to make an impact. “When I came back East, a family friend was able to arrange an interview for me at ESPN,” said Marjani. “I told the human resource manager that I wanted to major in journalism and communication, and he suggested Central’s communication department.” He enrolled at CCSU and became a communication major, taking several writing and journalism courses along the way.

Anthony Cannella, associate professor of English, has high praise for Marjani. “Keith was one of the top students in a journalism class of mine. His writing skills are strong, and he is personable, versatile, hard working, and talented.” Marjani is grateful for Cannella’s confidence in his writing. “Professor Cannella was the first to tell me, ‘You’re a good writer.’ He made me believe in my talent.” Cannella recommended him for a part-time job in the University Relations Office, where Marjani now constructs news stories, as well as public relations pieces. Geri Radacsi, associate director of University Relations, said, “Keith brings a tenacity to whatever assignment he is given. He completes assignments on time and with grace under fire.”

In the communication department, Kagan and Associate Professor Karen Ritzenhoff encouraged Marjani to develop his video production talents. Marjani said, “Professor Kagan makes it fun to learn about camera work, editing, and other aspects of video production. For a class project I went to the studio and produced a 10-minute segment called ‘Monday Morning Quarterback,’ where I reviewed NFL games of the previous week.” Soon after, Kagan received a call from his colleague Dan McNamara, communication instructor at the University of Hartford and executive producer of Local Sports Break, a new show on ESPN2 covering high school sports in the state. McNamara, a former producer at ESPN in Bristol, had recently contacted his old friends at the network to start a weekly television show to promote the video production talents of his students. In an effort to broaden support for the show, the students and executive producer decided to invite talented CCSU students to join the studio crew. Kagan immediately recommended Marjani. “He saw something in my abilities, and, in fall 2002, he recommended me for the job. It’s exciting because it’s real-world experience,” said Marjani, who received the break he needed. “I was cast as on-air talent for a five-minute segment called “NFL Quick Picks.” Together with other student-members of the show, I pick the four best football games of the week and debate the quality of the teams.”

Marjani impressed McNamara, who asked him to play a vital role with the show during the spring, including attending production meetings and recommending story topics. Marjani has many responsibilities on the show, such as writing, interviewing, reporting, videotaping, editing, and even producing. His favorite aspect of putting together the show is producing. “It’s like cooking. You get to do all the shopping, preparation, and cooking, putting it all together for others to enjoy.”

Graduating in December 2003, Marjani is grateful for his professors’ support in helping him develop his skills and strengthen his confidence. “I’m going to miss this place,” said Marjani. “CCSU has prepared me for a life in television. I have a good foundation. I know now that whatever I want to take on in life, I can be successful as long as I work hard at it.”

 

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