Three CASE District III Higher Education Writing Awards

In January, my writing for the University of Tennessee’s Office of Communications and Marketing was recognized with gold, silver, and bronze honors at the the 2021 Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District III Awards.

My work was judged against that of very talented peers from public and private universities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia.

Here’s a little bit about the stories that won. Click on the story title to read each one.

Feature, Profile or News <1,000 words (Gold):
PhD Student Follows in Her Father’s Footsteps

Every fall and spring semester, my office at UT selects a small number of outstanding graduates to profile. I get the honor to write one or two of these stories, and they are among my favorite assignments.

Reading an email submission from her advisor, Krista, who oversees the political science department’s Global Security Program, I was immediately struck my Conny Kazungu’s story. She was immigrant from a small village in Kenya, only the third from the community to attend college—funded by her grandmother, who sold cattle to help her make it to the United States. Days away from earning her PhD from the university, Conny was living in Washington DC and dedicating her career to researching terrorism in the Horn of Africa. Two decades earlier she had nearly lost her father during a suicide bombing at the US Embassy in Nairobi that killed more than 200 people, and now she would do all she could to combat the monster that almost tore apart her family.

General News (Silver):
UT Support K–8 ESL Students Across the Region

It was a few weeks into the pandemic and I was searching for stories that could lift the spirits of a campus community whose semester was turned upside down by COVID-19.

I work closely with the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences and serve on the board of directors of Centro Hispano. When I heard they were collaborating on an ESL program for local students that would meet the needs of college students completing teaching licensure and help bilingual elementary and middle school students continue their learning, I reached out to my contacts. Nils Jaekel, the professor, Megan Barolet-Fogarty, Centro’s youth and family director, and a few UT students were generous with their time. They even allowed one of our video producers to hop onto their Zoom classes and record the lessons as they took place.

I love to tell real stories of making a difference. This was one of them.

Profile (Bronze):
Into the Light

In the two years I’ve worked as a writer for the university, I have only one or two other stories I’ve loved writing more than this profile of swimmer Maddy Banic. Earlier in 2020, this story, which focuses on Banic’s career trajectory from near suicide to national champion and mental health advocate, placed second in feature writing at the Tennessee College Public Relations Association’s annual awards.

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