ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — St. Bonaventure University’s Jandoli School of Communication will honor Natalie Forster, ’20, as the 2020 Mary A. Hamilton Woman of Promise Award winner during a ceremony Thursday.

The program begins at 4 p.m. in the auditorium of the William F. Walsh Science Center on campus. The program is free and open to the public.

Forster of Wind Gap, Pennsylvania, is a former editor-in-chief of the Bona Venture campus newspaper and a double major in journalism and political science.

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“Our faculty is proud to honor Natalie with the Woman of Promise Award,” Aaron Chimbel, dean of the Jandoli School, said. “She has distinguished herself by graduating in just three years, but more importantly with thoughtful leadership as editor of The Bona Venture. Natalie is a fitting addition to this impressive list of women.”

The Woman of Promise Award is named in honor of Dr. Mary A. Hamilton, ’59, professor emerita of Journalism and Mass Communication at St. Bonaventure. The award is presented to a female senior who excels in and out of the classroom and sets a good example for her peers. The recipient is a student who, in the faculty’s opinion, possesses all the skills necessary to not only succeed but also thrive in her postgraduate career.

“The J-School is such a special place filled with the most wonderful people you could imagine. It's an honor to have professors like them, and to be given this recognition. To be honored by these incredible professors and journalists means the world to me,” Forster said.

In addition to her work at The BV, Forster has been active with the campus radio station, WSBU, serving as assistant director of the Buzzworthy magazine, and as a reporter with TAPinto Greater Olean. She also is a member of the Urban Art Club, assisted other students with their writing through the campus Learning Center, and studied abroad in the Francis E. Kelley Oxford Program.

Forster said she is grateful for the Bonaventure faculty members who have encouraged and mentored her during the past three years as she weighs her post-graduation options.

“Within the past year I’ve bounced around career ideas, from being a lawyer to working for a publishing firm," she said. "But with the knowledge I’ve gained with the help of my professors, and knowing I have such an incredible team rooting for me and helping me each step of the way, I have the opportunity and work ethic to achieve great things in whatever I choose to purse post-graduation. I can never thank them enough for that.”

The keynote speaker at the ceremony will be the university’s 2003 Woman of Promise recipient, Rayna Banks, ’03, senior managing producer for ESPN’s Investigative/News Enterprise Unit.

Banks, a 15-year veteran of ESPN, leads production teams on investigative stories across the network’s video, digital and audio platforms. Among her and her teams’ accomplishments are four Sports Emmy Awards and the 2019 Peabody Award for “Spartan Silence: A Crisis at Michigan State” – a report that shed light on how sexual predators like Larry Nassar can go undetected for years while victims are silenced or not believed.

In 2004, Banks started as a production assistant trainee at ESPN, working predominantly on SportsCenter. She joined “Outside the Lines” in 2005 as a production assistant and worked her way up the ranks to feature producer in 2015. Some of her work has aired during the NBA Finals on ABC and was a part of ESPN’s “Make-A-Wish” series.

In 2011, Banks co-authored a first-of-its-kind study on retired NFL players’ addiction to painkillers that was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Hamilton, a 1959 Bona graduate, returned in 1982 as a faculty member and served as chair of what was then the Department of Mass Communication. Hamilton worked as a reporter and editor in New York City; Washington, D.C.; and York, Pennsylvania, and helped develop a public relations program for the Center for Constitutional Rights.