2012 NINA scholarship winners named

The Northern Illinois Newspaper Association honored two outstanding student journalists this spring in the association’s 15th annual Northern Illinois High School Journalist of the Year scholarship competition. Winners are:

First Place

Taylor Wanbaugh

Libertyville High School

Taylor Wanbaugh

Taylor has served as editor-in-chief of Libertyville High School’s “Drops of Ink,” the school’s newsmagazine. She plans to continue her journalism education this fall at University of Missouri. In selecting Taylor for top honors in this year’s scholarship competition, NINA judges were impressed with the professional quality of “Drops of Ink” and the versatility Taylor showed as a reporter and layout editor.

She will receive a total scholarship award of $1,200: $1,000 from NINA and $200 from The Daily Herald.

In a letter of recommendation, Michael Gluskin, faculty adviser for “Drops of Ink,” said as a first-year adviser he has consistently relied on Taylor to be a leader for the publication and to assist her fellow staff members when needed.

“She has published several in-depth feature stories (two personality profiles and one on distracted driving) that combined effective reporting, talented writing and creative layout skills,” Gluskin wrote.

“Taylor is a highly qualified candidate for this scholarship and is a great example of a student who can be successful in the 21st century journalism world,” he added.

In her autobiographical essay, Taylor recalled becoming transfixed with journalism while reading “Drops of Ink” as a freshman.

“I was instantly attracted to the publication and was always one of the first to delve into the new issues…I was amazed that high school students could impact our school and our community so powerfully just by using their own words.”

Taylor said she has enjoyed her tenure as editor of “Drops of Ink.”

“There is no feeling in the world like physically holding something that you know you were able to create and that you feel such a sense of pride about. The experience has taught me cheap car insurance quotes so much: how to be a leader, how to work with others, and, perhaps most importantly, how to feel truly passionate about something. I have poured my heart and soul into this publication, and I can only hope the readership reaps the labors of my heartfelt endeavors.”

Libertyville High School journalism student Taylor Wanbaugh receives her first-place award and scholarship from Jason Schaumburg, President of the Northern Illinois Newspapers Association.


Second Place

Jessica Van Kley

Illiana Christian High School

Jessica Van Kley

Jessica has worked on Illiana Christian’s student newspaper, “The Echo” since her sophomore year when she worked as a reporter. During her junior year, she was feature editor and this year has served as editor-in-chief.

She will receive an $800 scholarship from NINA and plans to major in journalism at Purdue University.

In selecting Jessica for a second place scholarship award, NINA judges said they were impressed with her writing style, especially as evidenced in several columns and features.

In recommending Jessica, Jeffrey DeVries, faculty adviser to “The Echo,” said he has thoroughly enjoyed watching Jessica grow as a writer.

“She has developed a breezy, off-the-cuff, self-deprecating style that is enjoyable to read. After every issue the staff votes on the best pieces in that edition and Jessica’s column routinely win that contest,” DeVries said.

Noting that Jessica has also served as co-editor of the Illiana Christian yearbook, DeVries added, “Jessica has consistently performed far and above the call of duty. She has a passion for journalism, a passion for words, a passion for finding the truth.”

In her autobiographical essay, Jessica said working on “The Echo” provided a learning experience as she worked on stories and layouts on sensitive topics such as race relations and student depression.

“But the largest aspect of journalism I learned and developed over the past there years was to listen. I listen to people constantly…listening is and always will be key for any journalist.”

Jessica plans a career in print journalism and hopes to one day work for a major metropolitan newspaper, covering beats such as news and politics.

“I hope that with a career in journalism I can spread the trust and uphold the shining archetype of the journalist — giving the world unbiased news, ensuring political honesty and provoking thoughtful discussion,” she wrote.

15-year history

A total of $2,000 in scholarships was awarded, including $1,800 from NINA and $200 from The Daily Herald.

The annual scholarship competition is open to all graduating high school seniors living in northern Illinois and recognizes outstanding achievement by high school students in the field of print and/or online journalism.

NINA has received more than 525 scholarship applications and awarded more than $22,000 in scholarships over the past 15 years.

Revenues for the scholarship program come from NINA member dues and proceeds from NINA training seminars and programs.

John Etheredge, NINA scholarship coordinator, said he and other scholarship judges look forward to examining the students’ portfolios each spring.

“The passion and commitment that these students have for their high school newspapers, news magazines and websites is clearly evident and continues to impress me,” Etheredge said. “Like good professional journalists, these students are already using their talents to seek the truth and better inform their readers.

“As an organization, NINA is proud to be able to help these students further their journalism education at the college level,” he said. “We look forward to seeing these students in our newsrooms in the future.”

Etheredge said he appreciates the NINA Board’s continued financial support for the scholarship program.

“I also want to give a special thanks to The Daily Herald for their contribution to this year’s scholarship program,” he said. “Since we started the program in 1998, The Daily Herald has consistently contributed additional funds to our scholarship winners. These funds have helped the scholarship winners pay for college, while making our scholarship program even more attractive to students.”


Honorable mentions

Elizabeth Amanieh

NINA judges also selected two other students as honorable mention winners in this year’s scholarship program: Elizabeth Amanieh, a student at William Fremd High School in Palatine, and Marissa Blachard, a student at Harry D. Jacobs High School in Algonquin.

Elizabeth has served as lead news editor for Fremd’s student newspaper, the “Viking Logue.”

Her adviser, Russ Anderson wrote in his letter of recommendation: “With the inclusion of online-exclusive articles, Facebook, and Twitter feeds, Liz has taken a department that in the past has struggled for direction and connection to the student body and has given it a distinct voice…”

Elizabeth plans to major in broadcast journalism as an undergraduate and then earn a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern’s Medill Journalism Institute.

Marissa has served as assistant news editor for Jacobs’ student newspaper, the Talon. Her duties have included writing news and feature articles, page layout and launching the paper’s website.

Among Marissa’s reporting assignments was to cover a dispute between Hoffman Estates and Community Unit School District 300 over tax benefits from an economic development area.

In a letter of recommendation, John Bigler, an AP English teacher at Jacobs described Marissa as a highly motivated student.

“Her writing exemplified the attention to detail and critical thought necessary to succeed on a higher level,” Bigler wrote.

Marissa plans to continue her journalism education in college. She has been accepted to both the University of Missouri and the University of Illinois.


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