Two Meadows Students Receive Scholarships from Headliners Foundation of Texas

Triple major Jacquelyn Elias receives Founders’ scholarship; double major Hannah Ellisen wins Texas Associated Press Broadcasters scholarship

Elias article: “Locals Defy Gravity in Circus School”

Strong academic records, writing ability and an active love of journalism translated into scholarships recently for Meadows students Jacquelyn Elias and Hannah Ellisen.

Jacquelyn, a junior pursuing degrees in journalism, creative computing and computer science, was one of seven students to win the prestigious Founders’ scholarship from the Headliners Foundation of Texas; Hannah, a junior pursuing journalism and public relations & strategic communication degrees, was the sole winner of the foundation’s Texas Associated Press Broadcasters scholarship award.

In all, 16 students from 12 Texas universities received a variety of scholarships from the Headliners Foundation, an Austin-based nonprofit granting journalism and communication awards to students and industry leaders since 1983. The scholarships, which will apply to the 2017-18 academic year, range from $750 to $6,000.

To be considered, the students were required to write a brief essay, provide two or more examples of their recent work and include a letter of recommendation. All applicants were expected to have demonstrated their interest in journalism by working on student media or as interns for professional media outlets. Grades and financial need were also taken into consideration.

The essays: investigative reporting, community impact and the power of storytelling

Hannah’s essay centered on the power of investigative reporting and the positive impact it can have on communities. While she discovered her love for investigative journalism in her first broadcast class, it was her Journalism and Human Rights class that inspired her to raise awareness about important issues. The class examined and critiqued how specific human rights issues are covered by the news media.

“I created an interactive report on sex trafficking as a resource for journalists that examines the dilemmas reporters face when covering human rights issues,” Hannah wrote. “Journalists can make a difference in communities when they bring important but often marginalized issues to the public’s awareness.”

Jacquelyn’s essay began with a personal reflection. “I started off by sharing a short narrative of myself pestering my mother when I was little,” she says. “I used to always ask questions like ‘Why is the sky blue?’ and ‘Why is a goat called a goat?’” Jacquelyn explained how those early, knowledge-seeking conversations attracted her to journalism.

“I’ve always been curious, and journalism offers me a career of endless learning and exploration,” she wrote in her essay. “More than that, journalism gives power to these ideas that I learn because I'm given a public voice that has an influence.”

For Jacquelyn, storytelling does not end with the attainment of a word count. “I want to explore the intersections of coding and journalism to tell stories in the truest way,” she wrote. “I want to explore these mediums to find the way to replicate the story’s emotions and bring my story alive.”

Strong work examples

Both students sent in examples of solid journalistic work. Hannah sent two: a news story, created as a class assignment, about the donation of washing machines to a low-income school; and a moving piece about challenges faced by refugee and immigrant children attending elementary school in Vickery Meadows, a Dallas neighborhood populated primarily by refugee families. Both news packages can be seen on Hannah’s website.

Jacquelyn sent in four examples, each highlighting various skills: the creation of a crime map; a video news package about SMU’s Office of Interactive Technology; an article on a local circus school; and a compilation of breaking news-plus-updates about a restaurant fire that occurred close to campus.

Both students learned about the scholarship opportunities from Lisa Goodson, office administrator in Meadows’ Division of Journalism. “Lisa is always fantastic about sending us opportunities, whether they be scholarships or internships,” said Jacquelyn. “I actually applied last year as well to no avail. As in anything, persistence pays off -- quite literally in this case!”

Other Texas universities with students who applied for the 2017-18 Headliner Foundation scholarships included Baylor University, St. Edward's University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas A&M University, Texas Christian University, Texas State University, Texas Tech University, Texas Wesleyan University, University of North Texas, The University of Texas at Arlington, and The University of Texas at Austin.

The Headliners Foundation, associated with the Headliners Club in Austin, has been awarding scholarships to outstanding students interested in journalism for more than 30 years. Founded in 1983, the nonprofit provides scholarships to promising communication students and works to promote excellence in journalism. The foundation also recognizes outstanding leaders in the industry and sponsors several projects that promote journalism and preserve history.

Read more about SMU Meadows Division of Journalism.

Jacquelyn Elias (’18). Photo by Ryan Blitzer (’17)
Hannah Ellisen (’18)
Ellisen news story: “Washing Machine Donation”