Brown-Hulme wins Hearst Profile Writing, Rausch places eighth

Thursday, May 4, 2017 - 2:00pm

by Savanah Baker

Lauren Brown-Hulme, a junior political science and journalism student in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, won the Hearst Personality/Profile Writing Competition with her story Shepherd of the Streets. Brown-Hulme received a $2,600 award and qualified for the national championship held May 29 – June 2, in San Francisco. She was one of 10 students selected from 114 entries submitted from 62 schools nationwide.

Brown-Hulme’s story featured Abram Neumann, a 22-year-old missionary from Minnesota who cares for many of the Lakota littering the streets of Whiteclay, Nebraska. Over the past two years, Neumann had witnessed the deaths of eight friends, seven from liver failure and one from seizures triggered by alcohol.

Neumann and the eight friends he lost are only a part of the story of Whiteclay. The town is 200 yards south of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which has experienced poverty, disease and domestic violence connected to alcohol sales in Whiteclay. Last year, the four beer stores in Whiteclay sold an equivalent of 3.5 million cans of beer.

“Receiving a Hearst Award has always been an item on my college bucket list, but awards and recognition were never the goal of this project – raising awareness about the issues stemming from Whiteclay were,” Brown-Hulme said.

“I never dreamed I would get first place…and I am greatly humbled,” she continued. “Now that I have seen the difference a story like Abram’s – or any of the ‘Wounds of Whiteclay’ stories my peers wrote – can make in the hearts and minds of readers, I am inspired to continue writing these types of stories that turn a spotlight on injustice.”

Natasha Rausch, a senior journalism student, placed eighth in the competition and received a certificate of merit.

Professor Joe Starita, who taught Brown-Hulme and Rausch, said they are two of the hardest-working students a professor could wish to have.

“They both did scorched-earth reporting, extensive outlines and multiple drafts to ensure they’d given every drop of blood to their stories,” he said.“And the results speak for themselves.”

Brown-Hulme and Rausch mark the seventh and eighth top 10 finishes in the Hearst competition for Starita’s students this year.

“To have eight students from one class – and a class of 11 at that – win eight Top 10 Hearst awards in one year is difficult to even put into perspective,” Starita said.“There are journalism programs in this county that have not won eight Top 10 Hearst awards in their existence – let alone in one year.The take-away here is pretty basic and pretty fundamental: There is an iron-clad connection between effort and excellence.”

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln placed second in the Intercollegiate Writing Competition based on accumulated student points.The final intercollegiate winners are announced in April, and the top three intercollegiate winners earn $10,000, $4,000 and $2,000 respectively. University of Nebraska–Lincoln will also receive a $2,600 grant matching Brown-Hulme’s award.

According to The Hearst Journalism Awards Program website: “The program was founded in 1960 to provide support, encouragement, and assistance to journalism education at the college and university level. The program awards scholarships to students for outstanding performance in college-level journalism, with matching grants to the students’ schools.”

Lauren headshot
Lauren Brown-Hulme won the Hearst Personality/Profile Writing Competition and received a $2,600 award.