Four students earn scholarships in SPJ/JEA essay contest

Four students earn scholarships in SPJ/JEA essay contest

MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Journalism Education Association and the Society of Professional Journalists announce four scholarship winners in the 2017 SPJ/JEA High School Essay Contest.

Lauryn Wu, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia, received first place and a $1,000 scholarship. Aliza Diepenbrock, a senior at Spring Street International School, Friday Harbor, Washington, and Carolyn Harper, a junior at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Alabama, tied for second. Each will receive a $500 scholarship. Eileen Yang, a freshman from the Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey, received third and a $300 scholarship.

Nearly 150 students participated in the nationwide contest, which was judged by 26 journalism educators. Established in 1998, the contest is a project of both the JEA and SPJ. The topic for the 2017 contest — “Why is it important for a democratic society to have women involved in professional media and legal roles? What can be done to reverse the dearth of females in these professions?” — was selected by members of the Scholastic Press Rights Committee of JEA and a representative of SPJ.

“The winning entries showed solid research and a straightforward writing style that made for compelling calls to action and strong conclusions,” Linda S. Puntney, MJE and interim JEA executive director, said. “The depth of understanding of the issue was impressive.”

2017 SPJ/JEA High School Essay Contest award winners:

First Place, $1,000 Scholarship Winner:
Lauryn Wu, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia

Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winners (tie):
Aliza Diepenbrock, Spring Street International School, Friday Harbor, Washington
Carolyn Harper, Bob Jones High School, Madison, Alabama

Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner:
Eileen Yang, Peddie School, Hightstown, New Jersey

Complete essays from the winners can be read by clicking the links above.

Founded in 1924, the Journalism Education Association supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, by promoting professionalism, by encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and by fostering an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity. It is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. For further information about JEA, please visit

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a membergive to the Legal Defense Fund, or give to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

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