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b2ap3_thumbnail_simonton2.jpgFreshman 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 awise@waynesburg.edu

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While at the Public Relations Student Society of America’s (PRSSA) 2016 National Assembly in Austin, Texas, Jordan Mitrik, senior public relations major and Chapter vice president of Waynesburg University PRSSA, participated in and was awarded first place at the “Day-of Competition.” 

“I was in complete shock that we won,” said Mitrik. “I was confident in our presentation and knew my team had some really innovative ideas, but I knew all the Day-of partici-pants were really strong and we had some pretty big competition. I was extremely excited and it was a great start to a fantastic National Assembly!”

The “Day-of Competition” is an annual contest that takes place at the PRSSA National Assembly. Those who register are placed in groups with students from other colleges and universities. Each group, based on the prompt given, must work together to develop a public relations campaign for the competition’s client. 

At the end of one hour, each team presents its campaign to a panel of judges, composed of current public relations professionals. After deliberation, a winning team is chosen to receive certificates, as well as a monetary prize. Winners are announced and presented their prizes at the National Assembly’s opening ceremony.

“Participating in the Day-of Competition exposes PRSSA members to a competitive en-vironment and allows them to work with fellow public relations practitioners with whom they are not familiar with,” said Mitrik, who is also firm director of Red Brick Communi-cations, the University’s Nationally Affiliated student-run public relations firm. “It really aids in strengthening your problem-solving skills and your ability to work with a team under pressure. As future professionals, these are all invaluable skills to possess.”

This year, participants were responsible for creating a year-long promotional plan for the United States Tennis Association that would advertise tennis as a sport for all ages. This promotional plan was to include all communication and advertising efforts, as well as demonstrate adherence to a $2,500 budget.

Fellow Waynesburg University PRSSA chapter members Megan Bayles and Maura Fenske also participated in the Day-of Competition. 

This year’s Day-of Competition winning team consisted of seven students: 

  • Brooke Tait, Brigham Young University 
  • Emily Cristales, California State University, Dominguez Hills
  • Krista Watson, Loyola University Chicago
  • Mariana Roldán Carlos, Universidad de Medellín
  • Erica Everett, University of South Florida
  • Elizabeth Frattarole, West Virginia University
  • Jordan Mitrik, Waynesburg University

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Ashley Wise, Assistant Director of University Relations

724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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b2ap3_thumbnail_yellow_jacket_logo2.jpgWaynesburg University’s student-produced newspaper, The Yellow Jacket, recently earned nine awards from two prestigious journalism organizations, the highest number of awards the newspaper has accrued in a single year.

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), a national organization of journalists, named the Waynesburg newspaper as a finalist in four different categories for a total of five awards, and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association (PNA) announced three first place awards and an honorable mention for the newspaper staff.

The SPJ Mark of Excellence competition divides entrants into small schools (1-9,999 students) and large schools (10,000+ students) for some categories. For the year 2015, members of the Yellow Jacket staff are finalists in the following categories: Jacob Meyer in Feature Writing (Small), Sports Writing (Small), and General News (Small); Tim Neral in Non-Fiction Magazine Writing; and Nika Anschuetz in General News (Small).

“Being named a finalist for the SPJ awards tells us that the students took no worse than what is essentially third place in our four-state region, which is a huge honor,” said Brandon Szuminsky, faculty adviser for The Yellow Jacket.

The finalists for these awards were selected from among entrants across SPJ Region 4, which includes Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. A group of students will travel in April to the SPJ Region 4 and 5 Spring Conference in Cincinnati to learn how the newspaper placed. First-place winners in each category will move on to the national SPJ competition.

“We’ve never been selected for five Mark of Excellence awards before, and I’m honored to lead the staff that accomplished it,” said Kimmi Baston, executive editor of The Yellow Jacket. “The Mark of Excellence Awards are prestigious accolades, so I’m thrilled that Waynesburg is represented so heavily among the winners.”

SPJ presents the Mark of Excellence Awards annually, honoring the best in student journalism. The awards offer categories for print, radio, television and online collegiate journalism.

In addition to collecting five Mark of Excellence Awards, The Yellow Jacket received four Student Keystone Press awards from the PNA in Division II, which includes four-year colleges and universities with enrollment under 10,000.

In the Ongoing News Coverage category, The Yellow Jacket won first place for a series entitled “University bans off-campus living,” by Rebecca Burcham, Rob Longo and Jacob Meyer, and received an honorable mention for “Mather Mine: The forgotten tragedy,” by Chelsea Dicks. The series “University bans off-campus living” also won first place for Public Service/Enterprise Package. In the Sports Story category, Meyer won first place for his feature article “The hardest thing imaginable.”

“To bring in three first place awards after being compared to schools across the state is truly a testament to the incredible amount of work our writers put into each and every piece,” said Baston. “I was proud of each of these stories when we published them in 2015, and I’m incredibly proud and excited that the PNA recognized the exceptional work of the students who wrote them.”

The Student Keystone Press Awards contest recognizes high school and college journalism that provides relevance, integrity and initiative in serving readers.
“While The Yellow Jacket staff has a long list of awards, this is the most awards we’ve ever won in a single academic year. Last year we were pretty happy to win five awards between SPJ and PNA, so to win nine this year has us ecstatic,” said Szuminsky. “These awards are confirmation that students are doing great work and are getting a high-quality journalism education at Waynesburg that will prepare them for their future careers.”

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Ashley Wise, Assistant Director of University Relations

724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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b2ap3_thumbnail_DSC_0043.jpgWaynesburg University’s student-run public relations firm, Red Brick Communications, earned National Affiliation in January. Red Brick Communications is an organization available to Waynesburg University students through the institution’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Chapter.

National Affiliation is an honor bestowed upon PRSSA’s most accomplished student-run public relations firms, deeming them well-structured, professional and credible. To receive National Affiliation, a firm must demonstrate that it meets the standards set by PRSSA, some of which include being ethically based and outcome-driven, displaying accountability, and possessing professional and faculty support.

“I am beyond excited about receiving National Affiliation for the firm because it is a true testament to the dedication we have put into our clients' work,” said Jordan Mitrik, firm director at Red Brick Communications and senior public relations major. “I know how much effort was put into achieving this goal, and having it become a reality is something truly incredible.”

According to PRSSA, there are more than 100 student-run public relations firms throughout the United States. Of these student-run public relations firms, only 26 are Nationally Affiliated. Red Brick Communications is the only agency in Pennsylvania possessing this honor.

“To be Nationally Affiliated means that we are part of the best - it means that our hard work is being recognized and that we meet the standards set by PRSSA,” said Natalie Gloady, assistant firm director at Red Brick Communications and junior public relations major. “It shows that our firm, and our PRSSA Chapter, is dedicated to the work that we do, along with the public relations field overall.”

The firm began working to achieve this honor a year and a half ago. The National Affiliation application was an extensive process, one that required much time and commitment from the firm director and staff members.

“Jordan has done an excellent job leading the students within the firm,” said Richard Krause, chair of the Department of Communication. “National Affiliation recognizes the outstanding work that Jordan and other members of the firm have done. This accomplishment is significant for our Chapter and the Department of Communication.”

Founded in 2011, Red Brick Communications is a fully-functioning public relations agency, staffed entirely by Waynesburg University students. The firm offers pro bono public relations services to regional nonprofit organizations, including Waynesburg University’s Business Club, Corner Cupboard Food Bank, the Waynesburg Area Chamber of Commerce and Special Olympics of Greene County.

“I am so blessed to oversee such talented communication students as firm director and be an integral part of a firm that has achieved such a distinguished honor,” said Mitrik.

For more information about Red Brick Communications and its services, please contact Mitrik at mit3036@student.waynesburg.edu, or visit the agency’s website, http://redbrick-communications.squarespace.com/.

For the list of Nationally Affiliated firms operated by PRSSA, visit http://prssa.prsa.org/chapters/firms/Affiliated_Firms/.

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Ashley Wise, Assistant Director of University Relations

724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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b2ap3_thumbnail_PRSSA-Teahan-Award.jpgWaynesburg University’s Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter was honored with the Dr. F.H. Teahan Award for best Chapter Newsletter November 9 at the PRSSA 2015 National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Waynesburg University PRSSA’s newsletter, “Trending Topics,” is a monthly publication that was developed in 2012. Each issue includes professional development tips and officer updates, as well as summaries of all major Chapter events and initiatives. The content, design and overall development of each newsletter issue are completed by Waynesburg University students that make up the Chapter.

“Through the newsletter, I want to show all of the great things our Chapter is doing to expand and succeed,” said Natalie Gloady, junior public relations major and public relations director for Waynesburg University PRSSA. “It is important for those in our professional networks to witness our accomplishments. It shows them that we are serious about public relations and are working to make ourselves better and more productive future professionals.”

The Dr. F.H. Teahan Award for Outstanding Chapter Newsletter is presented to one PRSSA Chapter each year, naming its newsletter as the organization’s best chapter publication. Since the award’s inception in 2004, Waynesburg University is the only institution in Pennsylvania to have received this honor.

“We made a number of significant changes to the newsletter about a year ago that we thought greatly improved its overall quality,” said Richard Krause, chair of Waynesburg University’s Department of Communication and faculty adviser to its PRSSA Chapter.  “After only three years of publishing a newsletter, we are now recognized as having the most outstanding Chapter newsletter. It's been a really exciting year.”

According to prssa.prsa.org, each publication submitted for the Dr. F. H. Teahan Award for best Chapter newsletter is judged by the quality of its writing, content, design and creativity. Judges may also consider distribution efforts, length of publication cycles and newsworthiness of stories when making their decisions.

“Now that our Chapter has received this honor, it will only make us work harder,” said Gloady. “I am proud to work with a staff that puts significant time and effort into making our newsletter and Chapter great.”

To view the latest issue of “Trending Topics,” please visit www.wuprssa.wordpress.com.

For more information about Waynesburg University PRSSA, please contact Megan Bayles, president of the Chapter, at bay2547@student.waynesburg.edu.

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Ashley Wise, Assistant Director of University Relations

724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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