CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta wins Carrier Award

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Jim Acosta Portrait-ss

SUMMARY: Jim Acosta, CNN senior White House correspondent, received the Ronald E. Carrier Distinguished Alumni Award, the JMU Alumni Association's highest honor. For more than 20 years he has covered ground-breaking events including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Virginia Tech shooting, Hurricane Katrina and the past four presidential elections.

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As the profession of journalism continues to evolve and face new challenges, a JMU alumnus serves as an example of excellence. Jim Acosta is CNN senior White House correspondent and the recipient of the JMU Alumni Association’s Ronald E. Carrier Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. This award is the highest honor of the JMU Alumni Association and recognizes an alumnus who reflects Carrier’s own transformative contributions at JMU. 

Each of JMU's seven academic colleges recognized a distinguished alumni recipient at the Alumni Awards banquet on Friday, March 18. The Carrier Award was chosen from the pool of outstanding alumni receiving college awards. Jim Acosta, a 1993 graduate, is the 35th alum in the school’s history to receive the Carrier Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.

Acosta’s Journey

acosta at banquet

 When he first came to JMU, “he had a genuine interest in telling a story, but to tell the story he not only needed the expertise but a grounding,” comments Dr. Roger Soenksen, professor of the School of Media, Arts and Design. At JMU, he found his start through the Mass Communications major, now SMAD, and his political science minor, which had more impact than he expected. Through hands-on projects such as a documentary class, hosting a TV show for a semester, volunteering at the campus radio station, WXJM, and even running for student body president, he gained valuable expertise.

He reflects, “Every step of the way there was encouragement from professors and fellow students. It was a good environment …this is what got me going on my way.”

His career path currently includes coverage of the Obama administration, presidential press conferences, visits by heads of states and issues impacting the executive branch, including the 2016 presidential election. For more than 20 years he has covered ground-breaking events such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Virginia Tech shooting, Hurricane Katrina, the past four presidential elections and many others. While moving at a breakneck speed, he has stayed connected to JMU, speaking at graduation, coming back for SMAD events and enjoying campus visits.

Carrier Award

Acosta and Alger

When thinking of the awards namesake, Carrier and the nurturing environment on campus, he says, “We had Dr. Carrier, it was like ‘Oh, there is Uncle Ron on campus.’ He was a larger-than-life guy who was very down-to-earth.” 

Previous Carrier Award alumni include the late Elizabeth Gauldin, NASA scientist, and the only woman in the room when NASA experts gathered to save the legendary Apollo 13 mission in 1970; Charles Haley, the only five-time Super Bowl winner and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame; and Barbara Hall, screenwriter and producer whose creations includes “Judging Amy,” “Joan of Arcadia” and “Madam Secretary.”

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Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2024

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