Journalist of the Year Scholarships


Round 1: Check state submission deadlines.

Round 2: State-winning portfolios must be submitted to JEA by March 15.

About the Scholarships

Sister Rita Jeanne Scholarships, named for JEA’s longtime treasurer, recognize the top high school journalists in the country. The contest begins at the state level. Winning portfolios from state Journalist of the Year competitions are sent to the national level. Portfolios are judged at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention, and winners are announced at the convention’s concluding awards ceremony. Scholarship funds — $3,000 for the top winner, and $850 each for up to three runners-up — are sent to the student's college/university account after the winners are announced.


Deadlines vary from state to state, so check with your JEA State Director for contest information specific to your state, including where to send your entry. Do not send your entry to JEA Headquarters. The state contest coordinator must send the winning state entry to be received at JEA by March 15.


Students start the competition within their home state. Please contact your JEA State Director for instructions on state contest submission. The tools on this site were designed for use at state and national contests, but candidates need to verify the procedures listed here are what they should do to enter their state first.

For national Journalist of the Year submissions, all entries must be digital. There are resources available here to help candidates get moving on the process. Advisers should give this URL address to eligible candidates. Part of the process is to see what candidates will do to market themselves. This should be the student’s project; however, advisers may guide them however much or as little as they see fit.
The judging rubric aligns with the 11 key areas in the Curriculum Initiative. Eligible contestants should be encouraged to review all guidelines. Candidates are required to organize their work examples in their digital portfolio by these 11 areas.

If there is an area of this site that is lacking, please send an email to Joe Humphrey so we can enhance our content to be more user friendly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this contest for seniors only?
Yes, eligible applicants must be seniors. It is never too early, however, to start building a portfolio of work examples. That can start at any time.

Is this contest only for those majoring in journalism or related field for college?

Can a candidate skip entering the state contest and apply only for the national contest?
No, candidates who enter the national contest must be the winner of their state contest.

What if my state does not offer an online contest, or I'm an international student?
If you are the state's winner, you will need to convert your portfolio and other materials to digital format before submitting the national form. High school seniors studying in American international schools may enter if their adviser is a JEA member.

If a candidate is submitting for the state contest, should he/she use form on JEA’s website?
No, the online submission form on JEA's website is for the national contest only. At the state level, candidates should contact their state director to obtain submission.

Are there any limits on how many work examples a candidate can enter?
Because the contest is digital, there is no limit. But keep in mind that judges only have a certain amount of time to review a portfolio. So quality over quantity is important when considering what work to include. The goal is to showcase the student journalist.

Is there a certain resume format to use? Or are there requirements of what to include on a resume?
There is not a particular format to use for the resume. Again, the goal is to showcase the student journalist. Listing experience that qualifies a candidate for this contest is important. Like the work examples, narrow down and choose quality over quantity.

Do work examples need to be in published format?
This is a two-part answer:

  1. If the work has been published, it is not required to be submitted in its original context. It is important, however, for candidates to prove themselves as student journalists. For most cases, the judges will view the published work examples as the more credible approach.
  2. If the work hasn’t been published, it still can be included, but the candidate must explain in the reflection/analysis why the work was included.

If a candidate has published work that was done outside of school, is that acceptable to enter?
Yes. Candidates are welcome to include work not in their school media as part of their work examples.

What should be included with each work example?
Each work example for the portfolio must be labeled with:

  • The applicable category
  • If published, the evidence of usage/publication of example should the candidate see it fit to include
  • If entered in any contest, how the work example placed if applicable
  • Published or non-published, an explanation/reasoning for each example. The explanation/reasoning includes the applicant’s explanation about the specific assignment. Include any difficulties encountered with the assignment and special circumstances affecting it. Explanation should be brief (25-50 words in length is recommended), easy to read and should explain why this entry is important and was chosen for the portfolio.

What if a candidate doesn’t have an example for all 11 categories? Is the candidate automatically at a disadvantage?
Categories were not developed to exclude or penalize students who work in certain media; it was quite the opposite. The rubric was developed to give candidates with any type(s) of experience in student media an opportunity to compete. New categories have been added for candidates to show their versatility (Entrepreneurship, News Gathering, Editing, etc.).

Who should a candidate ask to write their letters of recommendation?
Candidates should ask those who know them best and can speak to the significance of their journalism experience.

Can a candidate post the letters of recommendation and/or transcript on the portfolio website?
These items are required to be uploaded for the national contest. This information should be kept private.

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