This past Saturday, April 17, I attended the C.E. Shuford Journalism Banquet featuring the Barbara Jordan Media Awards here at UNT.
It was an entertaining evening with live musicians, alcohol, friends and professors – but I didn’t expect what was to come later that night.
At dinner I was seated with several other Journalism students whom I had never met until that evening. We exchanged majors and made small talk until dinner arrived; a beautifully prepared Chicken breast chardonnay with herb roasted potatoes, haricots verts and chocolate thunder cake for dessert.
Welcoming us all in was professor and senior lecturer of the Mayborn School of Journalism, Neil Foote, with introductory remarks by the Interim Dean, Mitch Land.
As the night progressed, the keynote address was delivered by D.C. based political opinion columnist Cragg Hines, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle. The Barbara Jordan Media awards were given out shortly thereafter with remarks from the winners, door prizes, and then came time to dispense the Mayborn School of Journalism Scholarship Awards.
Rewind to November, 2009:
When Blake, my now ex-boyfriend, and I were together, he asked me to help him write an essay for a journalism scholarship as he was – and still is – pursuing a degree in PR at UT Tyler in East Texas. I did so without hesitation, revising and re-editing until the final draft was ready for submission. It was only just recently, months after we had gone our separate ways, that I came to find out Blake won the scholarship award; an amount of $1,500.00.
No longer on speaking terms, it depressed me to some degree at his success in light of the recent past – things concerning depth far beyond what I can rarely elaborate on vocally in its entirety, much less type out.
So, I decided to give it a shot myself. I had seen the signs posted all around the General Academic Building (we call it the GAB) where I do all of my coursework for my major on campus, but I just never got around to it. Fortunately, due to the lack of applicants on the first submission date, the scholarship committee decided to extend the scholarship deadline by several weeks in the hopes of receiving more applications.
Having received what I perceived to be a second opportunity to apply for a journalism scholarship, I took advantage of it. The first requirement was to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, the second was to write an essay of 400 words or less explaining why you – the applicant – felt like you should receive the corresponding scholarship.
Having applied for four scholarships on the application, I wrote the essay over a period of eight days, when, on the eighth day, I received useful advice telling me to start over from scratch. With two days left to submit my application, I was panicking. So, I started completely over, and I don’t think I stopped until I submitted that application.
Now, sitting at that dinner table surrounded by peers and media professionals in a room full of 200+ strangers, I was listening to names being called out of the scholarship winners. Winners of the C.E. Shuford Fund, the Jack Tinsley Scholarship, the Kenneth May Scholarship and others were all being called out followed by applause and cheers and hollering. I didn’t expect to be awarded anything – I’ve never won anything in my entire life, and that’s why it came as a surprise to me when my professor, Neil Foote, called my name.
Walking up to the stage, I received an envelope and then was guided to a UNT background where I had my picture taken alongside two other journalism students whom I’ve never met, and then it was back to my table.
In total, I would approximate that about 30 students names were called out for the scholarship awards. As I sat down at my table and names were continuing to be called, I slowly opened my envelope to observe the letter inside.
Addressed from the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism, the letter read:
“April 17, 2010
Congratulations! The Journalism Department is pleased to award you $3000 from the B. Colegrove scholarship. These are highly competitive awards, and you were selected because of your academic achievement, service to the university and community, and overall excellence as a Journalism student.”
I can not effectively describe the feeling I had and still have towards this letter, but it is one that brings me to tears. I have worked so hard, and for so long, that I really felt like this scholarship was something I not only needed, but earned.
This is the first scholarship that I have ever been awarded in my life and for that significane it will forever remain in my memory. That this scholarship will have a direct application towards the pursuit of my higher education… I just cannot express my gratitude enough.
Thank you, and never give up on your dreams.
“I wish I could better communicate how valuable this scholarship award is to me, how much it means to me, how much it’s going to help me in my immediate future as I continue to pursue a higher education. But I don’t know a better way to demonstrate my gratitude other than to go into the community and use the skills and strengths I have learned during my time at UNT. Because of this scholarship, my pursuit of becoming a professional photojournalist advances one more step to the obtainable.
I cannot thank you enough for your immense generosity that will directly assist me in pursuing my goals, dreams and ambitions.”