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Alex EliasofFor the soon-to-be college freshman in Verona, the most important thing to do in your first couple months of college is try to gain an edge over your peers in your areas of study. The best way to do that, according to 2010 Verona High School graduate Alex Eliasof, is to “get involved and get involved early. Be ambitious with what you want to get involved in.”

Eliasof, who is also a 2014 graduate of Pennsylvania State University, is currently moving up the production ranks at ESPN in Bristol, Conn. He earned a degree in broadcast journalism at Penn State and minored in history. At Penn State, he worked as a broadcaster and a producer for the Centre County Report (the weekly newscast at Penn State) and ComRadio, the university radio station.

Eliasof was a student at Penn State during the Jerry Sandusky scandal, so as a journalism student and a Nittany Lions fan, “it was absolutely heartbreaking and just trying to keep up with it at times could be just emotionally draining”. (He wrote three stories for as the scandal unfolded, which you can read here, here and here.) Being surrounded by this scandal did eventually teach Eliasof a valuable journalistic lesson, “what it did was there was so much information and misinformation flying around over the course of those first few weeks that nobody was really sure what was exactly going on so it taught me how to step back from something you’re very close to and just look at it objectively and how to really dig for facts and analyze facts and use that to shape your opinion and the story you are trying to tell.”

Eliasof has carried these lessons into his current job at ESPN as a content associate. The program he is in is meant to develop future producers at the network. He says “There are two steps, you come in as a production assistant. You make the next step hopefully to content associate which is what I am now. So I guess technically that would have been climbing the ladder one rung. And the next step, fingers crossed, will be associate producer.”

It is common for young journalists entering to workforce to take on unusual hours to gain experience in the field. One of Eliasof’s first jobs at ESPN was with the legendary radio/TV show Mike & Mike. “I was with Mike & Mike for about nine months and I would come in some days as early as 1 in the morning and then when I got to sleep in a little it was more like 2:30. That was probably the extent of my sleep schedule being absolutely turned upside down.” After Mike & Mike, Eliasof went to SportsCenter, where he worked a more normal schedule.

Right now, Eliasof is working with Outside the Lines and E:60, two programs that go beyond just the viewing of highlights. These shows tell stories on the effect that sports can have on human beings. By the end of the year, he will hope to have finished his own full-length E:60 feature story, which is a step up from the mini features he has helped produce in the past.

Eliasof is a great example of a VHS grad who put in the extra effort in college which set him up on a path to a successful career.

“Don’t be afraid to just jump right in because with the TV station, I was behind a camera within a month or two of getting to Penn State, shooting B-roll at games and doing packages at games,” he says. “Once I joined the radio station, I was calling a play-by-play within my first month there. So it is all about just setting aside any nerves or inhibitions you might have and just going for it.”

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