Story and photos by Liam McGurl, ’17, ’19
For Anna Bulszewicz, ’07, a lecturer of broadcast journalism in the Jandoli School of Communication, thoughts of returning to her alma mater weren’t part of her 10-year career plan. Bulszewicz said she appreciated her time spent at St. Bonaventure, the connections she built with professors and friends, but that chapter ultimately felt closed come the end of her undergraduate experience.
After graduation, Bulszewicz began her broadcast journalism career as a reporter and anchor at WBKB, a TV news station located in northern Michigan. Eventually, that position led her to a Coastal North Carolina TV news station, WCTI/WFXI in New Bern. There, she started as a crowd-favorite bureau reporter with top ratings, and quickly earned a position as a weekday morning news anchor/executive producer. She credits her success to time as an on-campus anchor for SBU-TV, where she connected with then program director Paul Wieland, ’59.
“Paul was what you would want in a professor who was guiding you into your profession,” Bulszewicz said. “He was a professor who turned into a mentor, then a dear friend.”
As Bona bonds go, the two kept in contact. Bulszewicz would call Wieland for professional advice, or even just to chat. The two built trust in each other, grounded in those years in the John J. Murphy Professional Building’s Koop Lab and strengthened by Bulszewicz’s professional track record.
“I made it a point to check in with Paul and he made it a point to check in with me,” Bulszewicz said. “The majority of it was professional advice in the industry, storytelling. He had always remained someone on the sidelines who was cheering me on; he was always someone I wanted to make proud.”
While at the ABC/FOX affiliate, Bulszewicz spent roughly eight years leading and managing her award-winning team as a solo LIVE anchor during a three-hour, breaking news morning show. Despite her fast-track to the life she’d always dreamed of, Bulszewicz said she grew increasingly dissatisfied with that path. She felt the need to do more, to be a part of something where she could see her audience, better understand her viewer.
Bulszewicz would often immerse herself in the community and southern culture as a public relations practitioner, advocate and fundraiser for various organizations and non-profits while reporting, but still yearned for a day-to-day feeling of satisfaction that these community engagements offered.
“The last several years in the broadcast industry, I had told Paul I was unhappy,” Bulszewicz said. “I felt I needed more purpose. In typical Paul fashion, he convinced me to do what I had to do and to take time and think.”
After months of grappling with the right way to pivot in her career, Bulszewicz said she saw herself consulting Wieland more and more. That closeness to Bulszewicz’s job search is exactly what would place the opportunity she’d been looking for in her lap.
After Wieland’s request for a call following Thanksgiving 2016, Bulszewicz would have a conversation she now cites as one of the most profound moments of her life — an “ah-ha God moment,” as she puts it.
“On that Tuesday, Paul told me he had plans to retire in the spring and wanted me to entertain the thought of applying for the position — that he thought I might be a good candidate,” Bulszewicz said. “It became this pivotal moment in my life where the person that gave me all the tools and the skills and the guidance, 10 years after graduation had said to me ‘I want you to be the person that potentially takes over after I leave.’ What an honor.”
Bulszewicz said she saw the opportunity as a chance to find purpose, to reconnect with an old version of herself that had a dedication to service, greater fondness for kindness and a lighter outlook on life. In short: She saw the opportunity to go home — back to St. Bonaventure — and reconnect with her youth, all while bringing 10 years of industry knowledge to spread like wildfire across campus.
“I knew I had to come back to Bonaventure because I was going to find more purpose and, I remembered, I had never felt kinder, smarter or that the world was at my fingertips more than when I was at Bonaventure,” Bulszewicz said. “I needed those things back. That concept came from the Franciscan undertone that I was taught here.”
Bulszewicz not only came back the following year, but fully arrived — present and as a distinguished force on the St. Bonaventure campus. The hallways of Murphy now click with the commanding sound of her black pumps, the Koop lab is filled with the liveliness of her bold chuckles and, most of all, enrollment in SBU-TV has spiked with a host of student internships now offered at the Koop Lab. Students connect with Bulszewicz’s energy, one highly focused on establishing purpose in helping students find theirs.
Yoselin Person, a senior journalism and mass communication major and executive producer and recorder for SBU-TV, has been with the station for nearly two years. Person is vocal about the impact Bulszewicz has had on her confidence in a robust, post-graduate broadcast journalism career.
“Anna Bulszewicz is one of those professors who stresses the importance of being extraordinary, going the extra mile and saying ‘yes’ to any given opportunity that opens up,” Person explained. “Anna took the school by storm. She teaches her students the importance of finding facts on both sides of the story and communications as being part of not only a broadcast career, but life itself. Anna inspired me to become a voice for the voiceless.”
Bryce Spadafora, ’18, who participated in Arizona State University’s News21 Program through the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism this past summer, said that Bulszewicz’s dedication to teaching the importance of speaking up for the marginalized helped push him to apply for the program. In this program, Spadafora traveled the country, researching and writing on hate crimes.
“Anna really encourages her students to dig deeper in both reporting and storytelling,” said Spadafora, who graduated from the Jandoli School with a degree in journalism and mass communication. “The skills she taught me in just two semesters of SBU-TV have helped me to cover impactful stories. Her guidance in and out of the classroom have also helped me realize what I want from a career in journalism.”
For Bulszewicz, the transparency of her position’s impact on students— the instant gratification it affords — is the beauty of the newfound career she’s uncovered.
“I get to see my consumer,” Bulszewicz explained. “I’m not looking at a lens anymore. I get to see real-time my impact … I can give a gift to the students who are hungry for what I once wanted to be. They’re going to glide gracefully; they’re not going to fall down.”
As Bulszewicz moves forward in her new role at her old stomping grounds, she said she intends to strategically utilize the small-scale learning environment St. Bonaventure offers. It’s dynamic, she explained, and is what sets the university’s students apart.
“We can individually craft what that person needs because we know them. We can identify the weaknesses, we can hone the strengths and drive the proper challenges into those wedges. That’s the most beautiful part about this school.”
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