Reporter and JCU alum to host UH Civic Awards
As an afternoon traffic anchor, host of the Emmy-nominated “Cleveland Now,” and roving reporter for “Friday Night Football Frenzy Game of the Week,” Rachel Vadaj of 19 News is indeed everywhere.
The John Carroll University (JCU) grad will return to campus on Wednesday, Nov. 15, to host the 2023 University Heights Civic Awards. A reception with hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment will begin at 6:30 p.m., with the award ceremony starting promptly at 7:30 p.m. in the Jardine Room.
“University Heights will always be a home in my heart. While I was a student here, I prayed to be where I am today,” Vadaj said. “To be welcomed back by my college town as your host is one of my highest honors.”
Each year, the UH Civic Awards honor those who are working hard to make University Heights an even better place in which to live, work, and raise a family.
This year’s event will honor the Citizen of the Year, as well volunteers, educators, and “good neighbors.” The entire University Heights Service Department will be awarded as “City Employees of the Year.”
“After a long absence, we brought back the Civic Awards in 2019,” said Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan. “It’s important to honor the people who are making a difference in our community.
“We’re known for our beautiful homes, and that’s important. But what’s even more important are the kind, beautiful people who make University Heights such a special community.”
Vadaj graduated from JCU in 2017 with cum laude honors, and was a member of the National Communications Honor Society Lambda Pi Eta and the National Jesuit Honor Society Alpha Sigma Nu.
At JCU she was a reporter, host, and entertainment producer, as well as the school’s first female sports director/producer, and the first female president of JCTV, the campus news organization.
“John Carroll University was the only college I toured and applied for. From the moment I stepped on campus, I knew I was meant to be a Blue Streak,” said Vadaj.
Outside of the studio, she was an award-winning journalist for the student newspaper, The Carroll News.
“Who you know will teach you what you know, and who you know will help you show what you know. JCU housed the connections I needed to manifest my dream of being a TV news reporter for my hometown [that] I had since I was 13,” Vadaj said.
Aside from reporting, Vadaj’s other love is dance. Her first job was as a ballerina for Ballet San Jose’s "The Nutcracker" before dancing with the Radio City Rockettes for three years at Radio City Music Hall. Vadaj took her dance career’s final bow as the captain of the JCU Dance Team.
Vadaj is creating a foundation called Rachel's Rescues to promote the care, safety, and protection of all companion animals, and especially the adoption of companion pets, by working with animal advocacy groups, shelters, and humane societies.
Mike Cook is the communications and civic engagement director for University Heights.