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ULM Student Journalists Receive Top Awards

Published March 6, 2017

MONROE, La. - Students from the University of Louisiana Monroe brought home five awards from the Southeastern Journalism Conference “Best of the South” competition held last week.

The awards, chosen from 469 entries from 29 colleges, were announced at the SEJC’s annual convention, hosted Feb. 16-19 at the University of Mississippi.

John Stevens, of Houston, Texas, won first place for “Best Radio Journalist.” Olivia Barfield, of Dry Prong, won second place for “Best Feature Writer.” Cory Thaxton, of Monroe, won fifth place for “Best Feature Writer.” Sandeep Shrestha, of Madhyapur Thimi, Nepal, won fifth place for “Best News Graphic Designer,” and Siddharth Gaulee, of Gainesville, Fla., won ninth place for “Best Press Photographer.”

“I’m thankful for this team that meshes so well together,” said Barfield, editor in chief of ULM’s student newspaper, the Hawkeye. “Everyone here is consistently trying to improve themselves and the paper as a whole, and it’s paying off. I’m proud to share a newsroom with this staff, and I can’t wait to see what we achieve next.”

Stevens, a communications major, won top honors for his work with ULM’s public radio station, KEDM, supervised by Director of Broadcasting Jay Curtis and Director of News and Public Affairs Cory Crowe.

The SEJC consists of 51 member universities in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Tennessee. 

Dr. Christopher Mapp, who serves as director of student publications, teaches a feature writing class at ULM and had Barfield and Thaxton as students. He said he’s not surprised they both finished in the top five in the same category.

“Olivia and Cory are great feature writers because they have a great nose for stories, a good ear for dialogue, and a keen eye for details,” Mapp said. “And they just work hard. If you tell them they need another source for their story, they’ll get you three. They just go the extra mile every time.”

Mapp added: “The same can be said of the entire Hawkeye staff. They pride themselves on their work ethic, and winning awards like these is what happens when you do.”