SMPA Awards Over $150,000 to Students in 2017–2018

School of Media and Public Affairs student prize and scholarship recipients
Student winners take a group photo following the announcement of awards. (Photo Credit: Nicole Radivilov)
April 27, 2018


The School of Media and Public Affairs hosted the first annual SMPA Celebration Night on Tuesday, April 24, featuring the announcement of over $150,000 in student prizes and scholarships.

SMPA Director Frank Sesno interviewed donors and special guests throughout the evening including Stephen Krupin, MA ‘08, former senior speechwriter for President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, Sandra Pérez Hawthorne, a two-time graduate of SMPA and vice president of communications for LMI, and Jason Rezaian, an SMPA Terker Distinguished Fellow and Washington Post Global Opinions writer who was unjustly imprisoned by Iranian authorities for 544 days while working as the Post's Tehran correspondent.

Professors, students, members of the SMPA National Council and friends of SMPA were also on hand to celebrate outstanding students.

SMPA Professor Michael Freedman and his wife, Renee, awarded the Freedman Family Scholarship to junior Lauryn Hill, Professor Steven Roberts awarded the Dorothy and Will Roberts Prize to six students in memory of his parents and daughters of the late Professor Michael Shanahan, Claire and Tina, honored their father with the J. Michael Shanahan Journalism Internship Fund awarded to André Gonzalez, Gillian Horn and William Lennon

Professor Cheryl W. Thompson was the Staub Faculty Excellence Award recipient, an award that honors the SMPA faculty member of the year with submissions from members of the SMPA community and a review committee with current and former faculty members and students.

In a faculty versus students trivia challenge, the student team triumphed with fast and accurate knowledge about SMPA faculty research, the SMPA National Council, journalism and public affairs.

A full list of scholarship and prize recipients and student accomplishments recognized during the celebration are listed below.


GW-White House Correspondents' Association Scholarship

2018 Winner: Davone Morales

The scholarship honors a senior journalism major with an interest in diversity issues and a demonstrated commitment to a career in journalism.

Larry King Scholarships

2018 Winners: Kendrick Chang, Caroline Corbett, Bailee Dukes, Tyriana Evans, Madeline Rundlett and Caroline Tounget

The Larry King scholarship was created by the former CNN personality who never attended college. This award goes to rising seniors with superior academic records.

Eaton Foundation Scholarships

2018 Winners: Ilana Creinin and Matthew Schwartz

This merit-based scholarship supports SMPA seniors in the combined degree program.

Eaton Service Prize

2018 Winners: Davone Morales and Samantha Serrano

This prize is awarded to students who have made a special contribution to the life of SMPA.

Hoberman Prize

2018 Winners: Justine Coleman and Andrew Goudsward

This prize was created by the family of a recent graduate. This merit-based award is given for original and meaningful journalism.

Freedman Family Scholarship

2018 Winner: Lauryn Hill

This award was endowed by Michael Freedman, an SMPA professor, former vice president of GW and the father of an SMPA graduate. Preference is given to returning undergraduate students with financial need who aspire to be professional journalists.

Philip L. Graham Fund Scholarship for Diversity

2018 Winners: Simone Hunter-Hobson and Ashley Le

This scholarship was named for the late publisher of The Washington Post. These awards support students from underrepresented groups.

Schneider-Taylor Scholarship

2018 Winners: Anahi Hurtado, Felicia Kalkman and Melody Magly

This award was established by the parents of a recent graduate. The scholarship provides financial support for SMPA underclassmen.

Dorothy and Will Roberts Prize

2018 First-Prize Winners: Devan Cole, Sophie Ota and Ellie Smith

Honorable Mentions: Austin Elias-DeJesus, Steven Kelly, Kelsey Movsowitz and Jessica Pitocco

This prize was created by Professor Steven Roberts in the name of his parents. The prize honors graduating seniors who have demonstrated academic achievement, professional promise and community service.

Sherman Page Allen Scholarships

2018 Winners: Kelly Del Percio, Kelly Hooper and Meredith Roaten

This scholarship supports students with a desire to specialize in the field of journalism. The scholarship was endowed in 1966 through a bequest from the estate of Violet B. Robinson.

Gridiron Foundation Scholarships

2018 Winners: Samantha Cookinham, Bailee Dukes, Matthew Edwards, Ashley Gallagher, Cayla Harris, Lauryn Hill, Gillian Horn, Jonathan Kandell, Ashley Le, James Levinson, Emily Milakovic, Robert O’Shaughnessy, Sarah Roach, Emma Schindell, Aaron Schwartz and Hannah Sessler

Created in 1975 by the Gridiron, a long-standing organization of Washington-based journalists, these merit-based awards support undergraduate SMPA students.

Essary Prize

2018 Winners: Lillianna Byington and Victoria Leoni

The oldest SMPA prize, created in 1948 to honor the memory of Jesse Frederick Essary, this award goes to a student who has given a promise of sound citizenship and ability in “forthright reporting.”

SMPA Career Action Network Internship Fund Prizes

2018 Winners: Robert Cline, Ilana Creinin and Rachel Ventresca

This prize supports rising seniors pursuing summer internship experiences.

J. Michael Shanahan Journalism Internship Fund

2018 Winners: André Gonzalez, Gillian Horn and William Lennon

This fund is named after a beloved SMPA faculty member and supports rising seniors interning for an established media organization.

Kwittken Fund for Strategic Communication

2018 Winners: Camila Kaplunoc, Isabel Pellegrino and Mika Takahashi

This fund provides support for students in the field of strategic communication and media.

The Robert and Christine Staub Faculty Excellence Award

2018 Recipient: Cheryl W. Thompson

The Robert and Christine Staub Faculty Excellence Award honors a faculty member for outstanding achievement in teaching, effectiveness in advising and mentoring or service roles outside the classroom.

Planet Forward Storyfest Grand Prize

2018 SMPA Awardees: Ashley Gallagher and Jordan Mullaney

This award recognizes the best environmental storytelling told by college students. The 2018 grand prize winners will travel on a weeklong storytelling expedition with eco-tourism pioneers Lindblad Expeditions.

News21 Fellowship

2018 Winner: Lillianna Byington

The nation’s most talented journalism students come together as part of the News21 initiative to report and produce in-depth multimedia projects for major national media.

iHeartMedia-SMPA Internship

2018 Winner: André Gonzalez

An SMPA-exclusive opportunity, the internship offers an immersive experience based out of the world headquarters of the NBC News Radio network, operated by iHeartMedia, in Phoenix, Arizona.

GW School of Media and Public Affairs-West Virginia University Student Reporting Partnership

2018 Winners: Guy Ginsberg, Maura Fallon and Andy Weber

In a unique effort to burst long-standing “media bubbles,” students and faculty from SMPA and West Virginia University Reed College of Media are teaming up for a four-week intensive reporting project to assess the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s impact in West Virginia.

Manheim-Sterling Undergraduate Research Prizes

2018 Winners: Koralie Barrau and Steven Kelly

Named in honor of two legendary SMPA faculty members, the prizes support and encourage outstanding mentored undergraduate research and creative activity.