Desorrento Award

Justin DeSorrento Opportunity for Excellence Award and Internship


Jim DeSorrento is a longtime cable executive who retired in the late 1990s from Triax Communications. In July, 1997 his son, Justin DeSorrento, was killed in a car accident. Jim, his wife Karen, and daughter Suraya formed the Deso Foundation to honor Justin’s memory. The foundation looks for projects and individuals to sponsor that exemplify Justin’s personality traits of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and commitment.

In 2005, in one of the first programs working with NCTA and industry partner Comcast Cable, Suraya DeSorrento designed a learning plan for prospective DeSorrento interns to attend the Academic Seminar at NCTA, learn from The Center's executives, and be placed at Comcast Colorado in the public affairs department for a hands-on experience.

The program has morphed and expanded over the years as different opportunities are presented for deserving students.

Here's a rundown of the DeSorrento internship programs since 2010:


University of Texas and Sundance Channel

The 2010 Justin DeSorrento Opportunity for Excellence and Internship was awarded to Kayla Lane Freeman, a junior radio-TV-film and American Studies student at the University of Texas in Austin. The DeSorrento Award provided her the opportunity to live and work away from home and school for eight to ten weeks, with a pre-arranged internship and stipend.

Freeman was chosen by UT's School of Communications department and staffers from the Sundance Channel, where she spent seven weeks interning at the company's New York City offices as a production assistant and reported to the director of branded entertainment. Her role included assisting in all areas of production and branded entertainment, and supporting producers on an as-needed basis in pre-production, production and post-production.

During her internship, Freeman blogged about her experience. Here are a few excerpts:
"The experience has been absolutely amazing, and I've learned a lot... The cable industry is not nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be as a girl from the suburbs who had never had any experience in a professional entertainment setting. It's cool to witness that these really extraordinary things; e.g., going on overnight shoots on location, Robert Redford stopping by the office, and getting to interview artisans from around the globe, are just everyday occurrences for the people working at Sundance. It makes the whole experience more tangible and less of a faraway ambition...It's been a wonderful ride. Thank you to Monique Frumberg, Dolly Wolf, The DeSorrento Foundation, Sundance Channel, The Cable Center, and my wonderful friends and family for making this possible."


Northern Virginia Community College and The Cable Center's Masters Forum

For 2011, The Cable Center did things a little differently. Through the Justin DeSorrento grant, we provided travel stipends to six students from NOVA to work and attend The Cable Center's inaugural Cable Mavericks Masters Forum: One Day Degree in Cable (Masters Forum) program. We originally connected with NOVA through one of our traditional Cable Mavericks Lecture Series (CMLS) in 2008 with Brian Lamb as the guest speaker.

As of way of building on the success of our Cable Mavericks Lecture Series, The Cable Center developed the Masters Forum.  These offered multiple panels followed by a career resource session where students could participate in mock interviews, discuss real job and internship opportunities with human resource and hiring managers, and get an idea of where they might want to go professionally after graduation. The Masters Forum exposed a larger number of students and faculty to the cable telecommunications business through insights and thoughtful interaction with some of the industry's top executives.


Northern Virginia Community College and The Cable Center's Masters Forum

Students from NOVA served as Student Ambassadors for The Cable Center's Masters Forum program. Because of the solid leadership and preparation of Professor Lucy Holsonbake, the students were professional, responded to any and all tasks, and remained upbeat throughout a rigorous 12-hour day. We were not the only ones impressed with their hard work. Many of the executives who participated in the event spoke highly of the interns. Here's what Craig Parks, IFC's senior vice president-digital, had to say:

"Aside from being almost disarmingly nice (New Yorkers aren't used to such things), the ambassadors were relentlessly engaged, positive and willing to go the extra mile. I've been a part of countless events and I really can't think of one where we had volunteers who quickly became such an integral part of the experience. Thank you so much for not only recruiting them but making them so eager to embrace their future. Clearly their willingness to support the event was born out of something much deeper, something you have no doubt helped them see."


Northern Virginia Community College and NCTA's Cable Show

The 2013 Justin DeSorrento grant was awarded to nine students from Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), in Alexandria, Va. The Cable Center and NOVA have a long-standing relationship so it was no surprise Professor Holsonbake delivered a dynamic and engaged group of students. As in previous years working with NOVA, Professor Holsonbake interviewed students and made her recommendations on the final nine. The class served as official student ambassadors and assisted The Cable Center staffers as we prepped and presented our annual Cable Hall of Fame Dinner, held during the NCTA Cable Show in Los Angeles. Several NOVA representatives attended the annual Hall of Fame gala including Provost Ron Buchanan, Dean of Liberal Arts, Jim McClellan and Vice President of the college, John Ruffiano.

Everyone was thrilled when the 2013 recipient of The Cable Center's Bresnan Ethics in Business Award recipient, Brian Lamb, gave a shout out to NOVA and the students. Lamb has been involved with NOVA, Professor Holsonbake and her students since 2008 when he participated in our Cable Mavericks Lecture series.

For more information about this award, please contact Jana Henthorn at 720.502.7504 or .

The DeSorrento Foundation