UNL Students Receive Scholarships from Omaha Press Club Foundation

UNL Students Receive Scholarships from Omaha Press Club Foundation

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - 7:00pm
Students pictured: Joseph Hoile, Mara Klecker, Natasha Rausch, Vanessa Daves, Brent BonFleur, Jane Ngo, Christopher Heady
Students pictured: Joseph Hoile, Mara Klecker, Natasha Rausch, Vanessa Daves, Brent BonFleur, Jane Ngo, Christopher Heady

Three students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications won prestigious Omaha Press Club Foundation scholarships worth $8,000 for their reporting and writing skills. They will receive their awards at a dinner in Omaha on April 24.

Mara Klecker, a junior journalism major from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, won the $3,000 Jim Denney Good News scholarship for 2015 for showing an aptitude in feature writing. Klecker, a two-year veteran of the campus newspaper, the Daily Nebraskan, is now wrapping up a yearlong reporting internship at the Lincoln Journal Star. This summer, she will work as a city desk intern at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, Arkansas. She received the 2014 Omaha Press Club Foundation’s $1,500 Floyd Kalber Scholarship. Klecker also placed second in the 2014 Hearst competition in the personality profile category.

Klecker’s three submissions in the Denney competition included a profile of a 14-year-old immigrant from El Salvador whose harrowing journey to America included praying on the roof of a cargo transport dubbed "The Death Train" after members of a drug cartel stopped it and drew their weapons. Two years after immigration officials found her starving and dehydrated in the Texan desert, she is living with her cousin in an Omaha suburb, taking honors classes and playing clarinet in the high school marching band.

The second piece was a story of an equine therapy program outside of Omaha. The piece chronicles the relationship between an elderly horse named "Archie" and two of his "patients,” a woman suffering long-term effects of being raped at a military base when she was 21 and a shy 10-year-old boy who found a confidence boost and friendship in the four-legged therapist.

The third piece follows an 88-year-old scheduled to fly in a 1940 Boeing Stearman above Geneva, Nebraska. Strong winds grounded the plane and dementia kept the man from fully remembering the nine different planes he piloted during 33 years in the Navy. His daughter and grandchildren tried to explain why he couldn't fly that day, but he kept pointing at the plane, mouthing the words, "Let's go."

Chris Heady, a junior news/editorial and history major from Leawood, Kansas, won a $2,500 Howard Silber Scholarship for newswriting. Heady has interned for the Prairie Village Post, Kansas City Star and Lincoln Journal Star, and will intern in the features department at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this summer. Currently the sports editor of the Daily Nebraskan, he will serve as Editor-in-Chief of the paper for the 2015-2016 school year.

Heady’s entries in the Silber competition included coverage of a tornado that tore through Pilger, Nebraska, in May 2014; the killing of a man during an eviction by a sheriff in June 2014, and a soldier's funeral in July 2014. Heady and a photographer were initially denied entry into Pilger, but took county roads to join the few media members on the ground only hours after the tornado hit. By finding a locksmith who was trying to evict a man barricaded in a house, Heady also broke the news that a sheriff had killed the man.

Natasha Rausch, a sophomore news-editorial journalism major, also won a $2,500 Howard Silber Scholarship. Rausch, who interned in the summer of 2014 at the Norfolk Daily News, worked during the spring semester as a fellow at the Omaha World-Herald. She will continue at the World-Herald as a 2015 summer intern. Rausch, from Cincinnati, Ohio, also spends her time as an ambassador for the College of Journalism and Mass Communications and helped in the college's production of the Native Daughters Oklahoma magazine.

Rausch submitted a four-part series on human trafficking that she wrote while at the Norfolk Daily News. The series localized this worldwide issue through a Norfolk group, I AM for Freedom, which combats human trafficking in the state and abroad. Rausch included the account of a Nebraska woman who was trafficked for many years of her childhood. The final part of the series focused on the state's lack of trafficking laws and how Nebraska groups are lobbying for more legislation.

The trio will join five other students from UNL’s journalism school who will share in another $11,500 in scholarships from the Omaha Press Club Foundation.

Brent BonFleur, a broadcasting major, was selected for a $1,500 Stan Bond Scholarship. Describing himself as perhaps the only Florida Gator fan at UNL, BonFleur has interned for four summers at WFTV in Orlando, Florida. He also has reported for the Sheridan County Journal Star in Gordon, Nebraska, and for the Lincoln Journal Star, along with hosting sports talk programs for KRNU, the UNL student radio station, and doing production and engineering work for the station.

Spanish and journalism major Vanessa Daves was selected for a $2,500 John F. Davis Scholarship. Daves, who is minoring in religious studies and women’s and gender studies, is currently a fellow at the Omaha World-Herald, has interned at the St. Joseph News-Press in St. Joseph, Missouri, and has reported for the arts & entertainment and sports desks at the Daily Nebraskan. She took first place honors in collegiate writing in the Nebraska Press Assn. 2014 contest.

Joseph Hoile, a broadcasting major who is minoring in business, will be presented with the $2,500 Panko-Roberts/President’s Memorial Scholarship. Hoile, a sophomore, works in the control room for Husker sports broadcasts on the KRNU student radio station. He also works part-time at the Lincoln-based Broadcast House, which serves several radio stations.

Jane Ngo, an advertising and public relations major, will be awarded a $2,500 John F. Davis Scholarship. Ngo, who is interning in interactive design at Swanson Russell Associates in Lincoln, has worked in UNL’s student advertising agency, the Jacht Ad Lab, and has consistently made the Dean’s List in her time at the university.

Journalism major Madison Wurtele, a sophomore, was named for a $2,500 Paul N. Williams Scholarship. A staff writer for the Daily Nebraskan, Wurtele has served as a resident assistant at the Pound Residence Hall and as a UNL Student Ambassador.

The foundation will also honor two people closely tied to CoJMC. Rose Ann Shannon, news director at KETV in Omaha and chair of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications’ professional advisory board, will be given the foundation’s 2015 Career Achievement Award. Larry Walklin, a professor at the college, will be presented with the 2015 Journalism Educator Award.