Cassidey Kavathas is a senior journalism major with a history minor from Lancaster, New York. She serves as Associate Editor of The Bona Venture after completing a semester as Advisory editor and as Editor-in-Chief and News Director of WSBU-FM, 88.3 The Buzz where she has served for six semesters. She works as a Peer Coach and in the university’s Advancement office. She has reported for News21, TAPintoGreaterOlean, The Chautauquan Daily and PolitiFact NY. She is a recipient of the Provost Scholarship, the Catherine and Russell Jandoli Scholarship and the Russell Jandoli Endowed Scholarship.
Sitting at a small table tucked against the wall at a Spot Coffee, I smiled at Bob McCarthy, ’76, as I flipped to a clean page in my reporter’s notebook and clicked my pen. A rookie journalist interviewing the veteran about his retirement — a lot has changed since our first meeting.
As a senior in high school, I job shadowed McCarthy in his element at the Erie County Executive debate in 2019 where McCarthy served as one of the four moderators. It was that evening that I connected my dreams of pursuing journalism with a Bonaventure education.
I wouldn’t be scribbling notes as McCarthy recounted the many stories of his time with The Buffalo News if Dean Aaron Chimbel didn’t immediately welcome me into the Bona Family when we first met.
The community at St. Bonaventure University shaped me into the person and journalist I am today. Without the mentorship of McCarthy through numerous email chains; late nights in The Bona Venture; laughter in the DJ booth at The Buzz; and my professors, I wouldn’t have the experience I have now as a senior.
In the summer of 2022, I sat in the newsroom of The Chautauquan Daily when author Salman Rushdie was attacked on the Amphitheater stage at Chautauqua Institution. Our newsroom was placed at the center of an international news story.
I wouldn’t have been able to jump into action and report if I didn’t go through Denny Wilkins' 201 and 202 classes. His mentorship made me into the writer I am. His interview and press conference lessons gave me the confidence to speak up and go door to door to interview members of the community.
The following semester I joined TAPinto Greater Olean, ran by Anne and Rich Lee. Fresh off of a summer of reporting, I used their class and organization to hone my skills on a local level and reported outside of the Bona Bubble. Rich Lee challenged me to take a national topic and localize it. Little did I know that his challenge would be the focus of the biggest moment of my journalism career yet.
In 2023, I accepted a position as a News21 Fellow based out of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. I spent my last summer as a Bonaventure student in Phoenix, Arizona, reporting on America after the overturn of Roe V. Wade. My reporting group’s story focused on New Mexico and specifically a few towns along the Texas border. I took a national topic and investigated and reported it on a local level. The story I produced was then published on a national level through The Associated Press, ABC News and The Washington Post. This opportunity would have never been possible if Chimbel did not see promise in me on my first visit to Bonaventure and set me up to shadow McCarthy.
The meeting at Spot Coffee felt full circle as I wrote about the end of McCarthy’s journalism career with The Buffalo News and he asked about what I would be doing in Arizona. When I received the Google Alert that my story was published by the AP, McCarthy was one of the first to know. As I prepare to leave Bonaventure and embark on my professional journey, I can’t wait to be the “Bob McCarthy” to the next student who took a chance on the small university in the Enchanted Mountains.
The following was written by Cassidey Kavathas in November 2021, during her sophomore year:
The road to St. Bonaventure University is different for everyone. I like to consider my path unique. Believe it or not, I didn’t want to come to Bonaventure. It was actually my mom who forced me to go to Communications Day and tour the school. Mothers are always right as the second I set foot on campus I felt like I came home.
The sense of community that surrounds Bonaventure is unlike any other. Even as a prospective student the community welcomed me. My first time on campus Aaron Chimbel, dean of the Jandoli School of Communication, went out of his way to introduce me into this family. At the time, I was struggling to find internship and job shadow opportunities in the journalism field due to being a high school senior. Dean Chimbel reached out to our network of alumni to help me even before I was considered a true Bonnie.
Through the dean, I met Bob McCarthy, ’76, a veteran political reporter for the Buffalo News. Bob invited me to shadow him in the newsroom during the debate for Erie County Executive in 2019. Just like Dean Chimbel, Bob welcomed me into the Bona family before my application to the university was even submitted. The night I spent shadowing him not only ignited my need to pursue journalism but confirmed that there is nothing like being a part of the Bonaventure community.
At an admissions event and my first-ever Bonnies basketball game at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, I
received an unexpected surprise. I met Bob again, this time with his wife, Ann Flynn McCarthy, Class of 1974. She welcomed me with open arms just like any Bonaventure alumni, student, faculty or staff would. Bob informed me that he was at the event to speak. You can imagine my surprise when he started speaking about me as he stood at the podium in front of everyone. It was during this speech he officially welcomed me into the Bona family, unveiling my acceptance to the university.
As a sophomore, I’m blessed with the sea of opportunity that engulfs me at Bonaventure. I am honored to hold the positions of news editor of our newspaper, The Bona Venture, and news director of our radio station. I believe that I wouldn’t have excelled as much without the true welcome into the community by Dean Chimbel, who shared a free T-shirt and a warm smile the first time we met. It is also through the mentoring skills of Bob McCarthy that I have realized my genuine love of journalism and writing.
By Cassidey Kavathas