Paul Bermel's experiences while at St. Leo College

While I attended St. Leo College and received a Bachelor of Arts, what I learned and experienced was far greater than the degree.

  • Writer, school newspaper
  • Student sports information director
  • Olympic Games Press Operations Staff
  • U.S. Tennis Open Press Operations Staff
  • Radio station reporter
  • Conference Publicity Director
  • Major market newspaper reporter (substitute)
  • Major League Baseball minor league team scorekeeper and announcer (substitute)

These jobs were just some of the experiences I had while in college.

While I attended a small liberal arts college, it was more about what I learned, how I grew, and what I did in college that changed my life.

Sure, in my Freshman year alone I wrote for the school paper, was active in student government, led a move to start a campus radio station, made the Dean's list and was named the Outstanding Freshman of the Year, considered transferring to Georgetown University, and was asked to run for student body President entering my sophomore year. But it was because I stayed at this same small liberal arts college I was given an invaluable opportunity that grew exponentially.

My Sophomore through Senior years I was the Student SID, Sports Information Director. What's that mean? Well, in a small college where there is no budget to have a full-time SID, I not only wrote the press releases for all sports, but I gathered the "official statistics" at each event (basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, softball, etc.), aggregated and published them as well, reported game summaries to local TV, newspaper, radio, and wire services. I helped put together the media guide for various school sports. I traveled, often by bus/van, and even a few times by plane, with the teams to road games, interfaced with other school's full-time SID and conference officials.

That exposure led to my expression of interest to work at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. During the summer between my Junior and Senior years I did indeed work at the Olympics, working on the Press Operations 16-person team (I was the only college student in such a capacity) that ran the 350-seat press box and international broadcast center at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena where Olympic soccer was held. From the Olympics I was offered a role to work on the Press Operations staff at the U.S. Open in Tennis in New York. While I arrived a week late to begin my senior year that September, I was immediately offered the role of Publicity Director of the 8-team Division II conference (the full-time SID from another of the 8 schools who held that role had resigned suddenly to take a bigger conference job) - in addition to managing the existing college sports information work at St. Leo.

During my senior year, the work I was doing at a baseball game, keeping the official scorebook, operating the scoreboard, and handling the public address announcing for the game, caught the attention of a major league baseball scout who was in awe that I was doing the work of three people all at once compared to all games that he scouts. He opened my eyes to television and enabled an entree at CNN with the President of CNN Sports, Bill MacPhail (former President of CBS Sports). Later in the season, a feat of one of our college baseball players was so amazing, I contacted CNN and convinced CNN to air a story on the player's accomplishment (one player hit two grand slams in one inning).

Seeing that story air on CNN convinced me that I would one day want to be work behind the scenes at CNN. After college I became the first college graduate to intern at CNN, in the short 6 year history of CNN at that time. Approximately seven years later I would become the Director of Marketing of CNN and ultimately worked at Turner Broadcasting and CNN for nearly 13 years.

During my Senior year I wrote the specifications for a computer program to aggregate basketball statistics, with the code written by a college professor. Had I known then what I know now I would have commercialized that software to colleges and high schools.

College for me was much more than the degree or the course work. I paid for school with all my savings through high school, just like my older siblings did. What I didn't pay I had a work-study program at school that chipped in, a maximum college loan at the time, and my parents picked up the balance. The conference publicity part-time salary helped quite a bit too.

My college experience was priceless!

Over 20 years of professional experiences since have been equally as amazing. Recently I had a CEO friend tell me that he would trade his Harvard MBA for my experiences any day!