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SJMC's best of the best

Posted February 26, 2018
By Sabrina Shutters, junior broadcast journalism major, reprinted from InterCom
Photo: (l to r) Ryan Gareis, Grace Peasley, Mackenzie McNabb, Emma Kontir, Lauren Coffman, Christal Harvin, Emma Grace Hurt, Arunmani Phravorachith Not Pictured: Michael Aufiero

School of Journalism and Mass Communications student Ryan Gareis is taking her job as Freshman Scholar seriously.

“My fellow scholars and I are going to be mentors to the next year’s freshman journalism scholars, which will make me work my hardest to be able to give the new scholars the best advice and knowledge,” Gareis said.

Gareis is a recipient of a two-year-old SJMC freshman scholarship that, together with the Media Diversity Scholarship, combines to form a new branch of scholarship programs designed to bring the most promising aspiring journalists to the SJMC. As part of the scholarship program, the students serve as school “ambassadors,” attending key events in the SJMC throughout the year, greeting guests and welcoming students, faculty and alumni.

Recipients of these scholarships have the benefit of attaining close connections with the SJMC faculty and staff, and being among the first to know about professional and educational opportunities available to students.

Dr. Andrea Tanner, SJMC director, says that the students are representatives for the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. 

“It’s a scholarship, but these students are also ambassadors for our school,” said Tanner. “They may participate in some of our recruiting sessions for prospective students or be greeters at certain functions that we have. By participating in these activities, they have the chance to meet people who may make important contributions to their education or their professional career.” 

What does it take to become a SJMC Freshman or Media Diversity Scholar? The committee, comprised of SJMC faculty and staff, is seeking students who are strong academically and have a passion for journalism and mass communications. Applicants submit essays, outlining why they are interested in journalism and mass communications, and list high school involvement and past experience in communication-related activities.

“When we have a student who’s looking at a school that is one of our competitors, I hope that they’ll see that, ‘wow, I’m going to get this scholarship from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina,’ and that will help lead them to USC,” said Tanner. 

This is the first year for the SJMC Media Diversity Scholarship, with four students receiving the award.

Assistant Dean for Student Services Rushondra James says that the goal is to help recruit students who are under-represented in media and in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

“You’ll see students who are Asian, African-American, Hawaiian, American Indian, who we don’t see as much when we look at our diversity numbers,” James said. “What we’re hoping to do is have that as a recurring program to diversify student population.”

While students benefit from journalism connections within the SJMC and tuition assistance, one of the greatest rewards of these scholarships is being able to represent the school.

“Being chosen gives me a sense of pride and connection to the school,” Gareis said. “There is a strong feeling of accomplishment for me.”

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