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Banquet honors journalism scholars, CMU alumnus from The Washington Post


The honoree of Jim Wojcik Scholarship, Isabella Krolikowski handshakes with Journalism faculty during the Central Michigan University Journalism Department holds a Journalism Award Banquet for the Journalism Scholarship's honoree, on April 7, in Powers Ballroom.

Nearly 100 people attended the annual Journalism Banquet Award on Friday, April 7, to dine and celebrate 17 students who received scholarships to continue their academic success.

Attendees listened to live music from Fish and Chips as they settled into their seats in the Powers Ballroom. Journalism scholars, their friends and family and faculty members gathered to honor the student's achievements and listen to guest speaker Mark W. Smith, a digital editor at The Washington Post, who received the department’s Alumni of the Year award.

“It feels pretty great knowing I can apply to something like this,” said Harbor Springs senior Ellen Auton, a scholarship recipient.

Auton plans to use her scholarship for an internship abroad in New Zealand this June.

After dinner was served, Smith received his award and spoke to the audience about his journalism career and successes.

Smith graduated from Central Michigan University in 2007. At CMU, he was highly involved at Central Michigan Life. Since graduating, he’s worked at publications such as USA Today and the Detroit Free Press.

“My first big lesson of political power came my senior year here at CM Life --- I was editor-in-chief,” Smith said.

When Smith was at CM Life he exposed how the school was raising tuition more than it promised the students. His work with the student-operated newspaper allowed CMU students to receive refunds from the university.

During the investigation, Smith said he was criticized by members of the administration, which ended up being an important experience that showed him the realities of a career in journalism.

Smith encouraged students to persevere with their careers, even when the job is intimidating.

Starting at the Detroit Free Press, Smith said he felt he was at the bottom of the chain because everyone seemed to know more than he did.

However, the experience gave him confidence to move to Washington D.C. and continue developing the career he has today.

“My one piece of professional guidance to you (is to) be kind,” Smith concluded. “It sounds cliché, but I promise you there is no greater force to carry you forward in your career.”

Students in the audience felt inspired after hearing Smith speak.

“He has an extremely impressive résumé,” said Breckenridge senior Isaac Gregory, a scholarship winner at the banquet. “He started where all of us are and has worked his way up to such a high position of power.”

Ken McDonald and Steve Coon, faculty in the journalism department and members of the scholarship committee, followed the speech by presenting the student awards.

“We spent a very long session of going through each scholarship and all the applicants," McDonald said. "(We) attempted to pick the one we think is the best and most deserving for each award.”

Roughly $23,000 was awarded, McDonald said. Each scholarship ranged from $500 to $2,000.

Scholarship recipients included:

  • Sophomores Ellen Auten and Amber Koenigsknect received the Matt Dobek Endowment.
  • Junior Mikayla Carter received the Opperman Public Relations Internship Endowment.
  • Freshman Dylan Goetz received the Pam Klein Scholarship.
  • Senior Isaac Gregory and junior Devon Rademacher received the Robert E. McCabe Scholarship.
  • Isaac Gregory also received the Journalism Scholar of the Year.
  • Juniors Tessa Harvey and Evan Sasiela, received the Gilbert O. Maienknecht Scholarship.
  • Tessa Harvey also received the Leadership Award.
  • Junior Brianna Hughes received the Suzanne Nichols Endowment Scholarship.
  • Senior Isabella Krolikowski received the Jim and Carol Wojcik Scholarship.
  • Senior Corey Micho received the Friends of Journalism award.
  • Sophomores Maricruz Patino and Erica Wilson received the Judith Bruhn Serrin Memorial Endowed Award.
  • Sophomore Shasta Rhodes received the Roger and Lisa Hart Award.
  • Sophomore Ashley Seymour received the Study Abroad Scholarship.
  • Junior Josi Tiffany received the Dennis Jeffers Scholarship.
  • Junior Samuel Van Camp received the Kim Clarke Endowment Scholarship.

Dawn Harvey, the mother of Tessa Harvey, was at the banquet to support her daughter.

“Journalism is very competitive and it’s nice to see that (Tessa) stands out,” Harvey said.

Rademacher, a Broadcast and Cinematic Arts major from Grand Rapids, said she appreciates that the journalism department offers scholarships based on specific career aspirations.

“This is my first scholarship that I’ve ever gotten and (it) actually applies to (the career),” Rademacher said. “I’m glad my journalism professors pushed me to apply for it.”