Four years ago, Brad Byrne walked across the stage of EagleBank Arena for his high school graduation. This week, he will once more cross the EagleBank stage as a George Mason University graduate.
In high school, as a part of the yearbook staff, Byrne would attend conferences and hear journalism professionals talk about their work. For him, it was like a light bulb turning on. “This is what I want to do with my life,” he said. “I want to tell other peoples’ stories to the world, because everyone has a story.”
This week Byrne is seeing that dream come to fruition as he graduates from Mason with a bachelor of arts in communication with a concentration in journalism.
Byrne has a story, too: an incredible family legacy of Mason alumni going back to the 1980s when his parents both attended Mason. Multiple family members are Mason graduates or expected Mason graduates—Byrne is currently joined on campus by his brother and sister, and two cousins. “Mason has always been a part of my life,” he said, recalling going to basketball games with his family as a kid. “We're all from Northern Virginia, so for us Mason is right next door. It’s a great cost-effective option to get a great degree.”
During his time at Mason, Byrne found his niche in Student Media and worked with Fourth Estate—Mason's student-run newspaper—throughout college, becoming the sole editor-in-chief for the 2022-23 academic year.
“We had a lot of challenges, but to persevere through that as one of the first solo editors-in-chief in many years and still put out important stories for the Mason community is one of my greatest accomplishments from my time here,” he said.
The connections and opportunities available through Mason have been vital to Byrne’s past, present, and future successes. “I made lifelong friends in the newspaper and had incredible opportunities Department of Communication, like having a one-on-one interview with Senator Tim Kaine, and studying in France for two weeks.”
With an eye for storytelling and a passion for hard-hitting journalism, Byrne is heading to Columbia University’s Journalism School in the fall to pursue his master’s degree. It’s another full-circle moment for him. “I got my acceptance into the program at Columbia six years to the date from my first Columbia conference, so I guess it was fate.”
He hopes to one day become a correspondent for a major news publication.
“Whatever I’m doing, I really want to make a difference in the world.”
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