KOKOMO, Ind. — A communication arts degree from Indiana University Kokomo prepared Shane Simmons for career success – including winning two Mid-America Emmy Awards.
Simmons, A.S. ’11. B.S. ’13, teamed with photographer Jacob Nice, earning honors on Saturday (October 1) for best sports feature and a human-interest story created at WQAD News 8, in Moline, Illinois.
“I give credit to my experience at IU Kokomo, particularly with the faculty, who are some of the best you will find in communication arts,” he said. “My education completely changed my outlook on life, my goals, and my vision, and opened a lot of doors for me. My internships and experiences allowed me to hone my skills, which helped a lot when I was breaking into a very competitive news reporting field.”
Their sports feature told the story of a high school bass fishing team, with members who made their owns rods and reels during the winter, and then used them in competition in the spring. They also received an Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Journalism for that story, in February 2016.
The duo’s human-interest story featured a man who, while serving a 30-year prison sentence, participated in a program to create eyeglasses for low-income people. He left prison as a certified optician, allowing him to rebuild his life as a contributing citizen.
“We came out ahead of more than 30 entries in each category, with large-market competitors from St. Louis and Kansas City, who typically wax the floor with the smaller market reporters,” he said. “We knew we had good stories, and we put a lot of time into them.”
The skills learned in his communication arts classes, along with his political science minor, prepared him for his career.
“I am able to get people to open up to me, and share their stories and tell them in a way that isn’t artificial, but very natural,” he said. “I tell people if you want to work in journalism, you should study something like communications, or political science, or business. While you may not have a lot of specific journalism classes, what you will learn will prepare you and make you a better journalist at the end of the day.”
As a student, he completed a videography internship with the Office of Media and Marketing, and a reporting internship at WISH-TV in Indianapolis, allowing him to learn marketing and news reporting hands on.
He began his career at WQAD, and then moved to WHAS-TV in Louisville, before returning to Indiana in June.
He’s now using his storytelling skills at IUPUI’s Kelley School of Business, where he became assistant director of marketing and communications. After three years in television news, he was ready for a career that would allow him to promote the benefits of higher education.
“I was ready to do something where I felt I was having more of an impact on people,” Simmons said. “I’m still writing and telling stories, but for the Kelley School. At this time in my life, this is the perfect job for me.”
Simmons, 26, noted that his wife, Kristen (Taylor) Simmons, B.S.N. ’12, was able to find jobs easily when his job took them to new places. In fact, when they moved from Moline to Louisville, she had three interviews within a few days of their arrival.
They now live in Fishers, where she is a nurse at IU Health Saxony, and is preparing to enroll in a nurse practitioner program. He plans to begin his Master of Business Administration in 2017.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.