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Senior Spotlight: Paul Zalakar

Zalakar influences the future of the Department of Communication

Rachel Pellegrino May 21, 2020

Looking back on his time at Waynesburg University, senior electronic media major Paul Zalakar said he wouldn’t change much, except he would have said less and done more.

Melinda Roeder, instructor of communication, said that Zalakar’s response epitomizes who he is: “a doer.” 

Photo courtesy of Paul Zalakar.

Zalakar has been involved in the Department of Communication since his freshman year at the university’s radio station, 99.5 the Hive, and the television station, WCTV. He started out with minor roles but became the Newscast Producer his sophomore year and then the station’s General Manager his junior and senior years.

“I really wanted to make something better of myself and not just be in the background. I wanted to continue and push forward,” Zalakar said. “I mean, that’s the kind of person I am. I like to stay busy and just keep going and keep pushing myself and bettering myself.” 

That mentality is what led Zalakar to become a leader both academically and physically in the Department of Communication. 

“Paul was one of the best leaders we’ve had in the department in some time,” Richard Krause, chair of the Department of Communication, said.

“He’s been a tremendous leader for WCTV and represents our department really well,” Roeder said. “He’s very happy to mentor and coach and he excels academically and is in Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society.”

There are a lot of times when you’re in this field [and] sometimes you don’t have your best days, and you have a lot of doubt, but put a smile on your face, keep chugging along and just stay positive."

Paul Zalakar

Even though Zalakar has been a leader in many ways in the department, Roeder believes his real legacy lies in his instrumental role in the department’s HD conversion.

“I think that’s his legacy: being there for the whole conversion and having a hand in every step of that process,” Roeder said. 

To raise enough money for the HD conversion, Zalakar and Emily Bennett, a 2019 Waynesburg alumna, assisted Roeder with a three and a half hour telethon that was entirely original content. Roeder said they put a lot of hard work into the telethon.

This hard work resulted in raising enough money for the HD conversion, which would benefit the entire department.

“It was just a great feeling once we came back and we were able to start playing with the HD studio,” Zalakar said. “It’s still not 100%. There’s still a lot to be learned.”

Zalakar was only able to use the studio equipment for a semester and a half, but he is grateful for what the equipment meant for the department.

“From where we were just a year ago, this has been such a massive improvement … and I’m really thankful for that,” he said.

With his role in the HD conversion and Zalakar’s other work in the department, Roeder said she truly believes he is leaving WCTV better than he had found it.

Zalakar has had success in the department over the years, but he said he still sometimes had doubts.

“There are a lot of times when you’re in this field [and] sometimes you don’t have your best days, and you have a lot of doubt, but put a smile on your face, keep chugging along and just stay positive,” he said. 

Zalakar is not positive where he will end up after Waynesburg, but he believes the work and education he accomplished at Waynesburg has given him many different tools that will help him out.

“I hope to be well established working in the media, whether that’s behind the scenes or in front of a camera or behind a mic of any sort. I’m open to a lot of different things,” he said.

Roeder said Zalakar’s ability to throw himself into his work and be willing to share his time and talents will benefit him later in life. 

“I think his work ethic is really going to drive him to succeed, and I have no doubt that he is going to be very successful,” Roeder said.

This article originally appeared in Waynesburg University's student newspaper, "The Yellow Jacket."

Congratulations, Class of 2020!