Freshman Waynesburg University student Teghan Simonton placed second in this year’s Gertrude Gordon Memorial Fund Writing Contest. The contest, held March 18 at Point Park University and hosted by the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh, awards monetary prizes to the top three writers from the competition each year.
While Waynesburg journalism students have consistently placed in the annual contest, it is atypical for a freshman to compete and win. The contest is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors; Simonton was able to compete because she has earned enough credits to have sophomore status at the University.
“I am extremely grateful and surprised to be chosen as one of the winners,” said Simonton. “I entered as a way to gain more experience, but I tried my best to write a decent article. Finding out I won second place was very exciting and rewarding.”
Simonton, a dual major in communication (journalism) and public relations, traveled to the contest with five other Waynesburg University students and Brandon Szuminsky, instructor of communication at Waynesburg University. The students, in conjunction with students from other area colleges, conducted a one-hour group interview with Janera Solomon, executive director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh. They were then given two hours to write feature stories about Solomon which were judged by local journalists.
The first and third place winners of the contest are from Point Park University and Edinboro University, respectively.
Simonton is heavily involved in activities in the Department of Communication at the University, and she said those experiences helped to prepare her for the contest.
“Professor Szuminsky is constantly making himself available to give me advice and answer questions about my writing,” said Simonton. “On top of that, being able to practice at a superb newspaper like The Yellow Jacket and finding mentors in older staff members has been infinitely valuable to me.”
In the future, Simonton feels the contest experience will benefit her by expanding her skills and knowledge of the field of journalism.
“This contest made me really excited about journalism,” she said. “I am so grateful I got to listen to Janera Solomon and write a noteworthy piece about her, because that is exactly what I love about this profession: writing about real people and their lives. I am excited to have more opportunities like this in the future.”
The Gertrude Gordon Memorial Fund Writing Contest has been held by the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh for 60 years. It is conducted in memory of Gertrude Gordon, a pioneer for female journalists in the Pittsburgh area. After her death, her family created the scholarship reserve which funds the contest prizes today.
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Ashley Wise, Assistant Director of University Relations
724.852.7675 or email@example.com