Each year, the school of journalism at Michigan State holds an awards ceremony to honor the student journalists that make an impact both on and off campus through their work in internships, publications and other media outlets. They honor all of the school's scholarship winners for the upcoming school year and the seniors who are graduating and moving on to bigger, better-paying endeavors.
Joking aside, the school awarded over $150,000, generously donated by university and j-school alumni, to deserving students journalists from starry-eyed freshmen through hardened doctoral candidates. These students were awarded for their incredible work as writers, broadcasters, designers, reporters and photographers while employed through a number of print and online media sources.
I had the honor of receiving several awards that will soon be hung in my future classroom once they have finished their long tenure stuck to my refrigerator.
For the second consecutive year, I was announced as the recipient of the William Faulkner Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to a student pursuing journalism education in honor of William Faulkner and the advice he gave his son, to "get an education."
I was also overjoyed to be announced as a Mary Gardner Scholar with 11 of my peers. It was an honor to be in the same group as so many of them as they are incredibly talented and hardworking in their own right.
I was inducted as a member of Kappa Tau Alpha and was announced to be the Top Scholar, or the undergraduate student with the highest GPA upon graduation. The Greek letters stand for Knowledge, Truth and Accuracy, three traits I hope to instill in my students as I take up the mantle as a journalism educator.
Finally, I was awarded the highest honor that a senior can receive at the Michigan State University School of Journalism, outstanding senior. This award is voted on by all the staff at the school of journalism and it honors one-to-two graduating seniors that "excel in scholarly and journalistic activities throughout his or her undergraduate program."
This particular award afforded me a two-minute speech to address the faculty and my peers at the school. Thankfully, I was able to recite the third section of my biography, dedicated to my incredible professors that pushed me and inspired me to strive for more than I imagined I could accomplish at the school of journalism:
"Cody has a great deal of thanks to give to his professors at the school of journalism for the past four years. Without Cheryl Pell's intensely keen eye for detail and typography, Joe Grimm's innovative and occasionally questionable AP style teaching methods, Jeremy Steele's awe-inspiring dedication to getting it right the first time, Darcy Greene's bar-setting photography and visual communication skills, Jen Ware's passion for both education and communication, Karl Gude's flawless handle of the combination of creativity and collaboration in a class of nearly 400 students, and many, many more, Cody would not be the journalist or educator he is today."
I was also able to thank and honor the other student journalists that received their awards. I am so blessed that I have so many incredible talented peers that I can call on in the future to help me teach my students how to be the most upstanding, progressive and ethical journalists that any student body has ever seen. Being named the outstanding senior is one thing, but being able to call on my friends for advice on any journalism topic that I can ever consider teaching is infinitely more valuable.
And if you're reading this, thank you. These awards are a reflection of the incredibly inspiring work that you do every day. I cannot wait to see what the next chapter of my life entails as I move on to that bigger, better, slightly-worse paying job as the student adviser at Grand Ledge High School beginning next fall.
Cody T. Harrell