Jackson, TN- Southeastern Louisiana University’s communication students put their talents to the test this past weekend as they competed at the Southeast Journalism Conference. Students came home with numerous awards from the conference’s Best of South and onsite competitions. Southeastern also won first place in the conference’s overall onsite competition for the first time in over 10 years.
The conference hands out awards in the Best of South competition, which judges work submitted by students that they have had published over the course of the last year. There are categories for individuals, as well as college. Southeastern students placed in a number of categories.
Chrissy Carter, a senior student and anchor for the Southeastern Channel, took home awards in several categories. She placed second in the categories of Best Television Hard News Reporter and Best Television Journalist. Carter also placed third in the competition’s most prestigious category for Journalist of the Year.
Christopher Martin, a junior student who works as assistant editor for Southeastern’s student paper The Lions’ Roar, won first place in the category for Best News Graphic Designer. The award came as a surprise to Martin who said, “I didn’t expect to win in graphic design, but I have to thank a lot of the staff I work with because I bounce a lot of my ideas off of them.”
The Best of South awards continued for Southeastern as the university took home awards as a college. The Southeastern Channel was a big winner for the school as it placed first in the categories for Best College Television Station and Best College News Program.
The success continued for Southeastern as the onsite competition results were announced. Students that made the trip to the conference were able to participate in competitions held at Union University which featured 11 categories. Out of the 11 categories, Southeastern students placed in, or won five of them. Students competed as individuals or teams depending on the category.
The awards started rolling in as Southeastern student Kelsey Humble took first place in the category for Entertainment writing. In the Communication Law competition, Lindory Dyson, a senior Southeastern student, won second place. And Jessica Leblanc took home the first place award for Southeastern as she won the TV News Reporting competition.
In the group competitions Southeastern also performed well. In the PR Campaign competition, Southeastern’s team consisting of Adrienne Rousse, Jasmine Tate, and Claire Salinas won second place. In the category for PR Crisis, the team of Rachel Montoya, Crystal Schayot, and Catherine Monica took home third for Southeastern.
The combined success of Southeastern’s onsite competitors proved to be enough to earn the university the distinction of winning first place overall in the conference’s onsite competition. Something the university hasn’t done since the 90’s according to Dr. Amber Narro, who served as a faculty advisor on the trip.
Southeastern’s students were excited when they were announced as the winners, and they weren’t alone. In the celebration following the first place overall announcement Narro said, “I am definitely as excited as they are, there is not a person here who is more thrilled…this is huge for our university.”
Jessica LeBlanc, one of the onsite winners said after the award ceremony, “It makes me feel so good that my school and I came here, we did our best and we see the results of it,” Leblanc said. “It just goes to show you that doing your best really does pay off.”
Hard work and preparation were the main factors contributing to Dyson’s success in the communication law competition. According to Dyson, studying and lessons learned from the classroom were what allowed her to be well prepared for the law examination. Dyson said, “I studied hard for this communication Law test, pretty much everything on that test is what I was already studying for.”
While lessons learned, either from professors in the classroom or experience in the field, were essential to the students’ success; when it came down to it, the competition was based on competitors’ raw, unedited skills. According to Narro, the unfiltered nature of the onsite competition makes it particularly impressive. She said, “It gives Southeastern credibility, this is true raw talent that it’s judged on, it’s unedited by teachers, it goes straight from you to the judges so nobody edits the work.”
The fact that the work turned in was unedited by anyone other than the students show the real talent they possess to the judges. Narro said, “The comments are made by judges who are professionals, as well as faculty in the field who are well educated in the field of journalism and make these decisions,” she said. “This is a definite testament to the talent we have at Southeastern. There’s something to be said when you haven’t been edited and it’s all about you.”