Montclair State University students are the 2019 recipients of the Seymour Bricker humanitarian award and the news category award at the 39th College Television Awards.
Last year, during spring break most students were on vacation, but the students from Montclair News Lab were in Puerto Rico reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Congrats to @babee_garcia @_genesisobando @carpediem_laura @madisonKEZI, Madjiguene Traore, Natalie De La Rosa, and Mariano Arocho from @montclairstateu for their #CollegeTVAwards win in News for "Montclair News Lab: Hurricane Recover Mission to Puerto Rico"! pic.twitter.com/LMHzazbl68
— Television Academy (@TelevisionAcad) March 17, 2019
This is the first time Montclair State students have received these types of awards for their work. According to a statistic provided by the Television Academy Foundation, 25 nominees are selected from over 600 productions submitted by 174 colleges.
The award ceremony was held in North Hollywood, California on Saturday, March 16. Each winning project received a $3,000 cash prize with their award according to the Television Academy Foundation.
Since Montclair State students also won the Seymour Bricker humanitarian award, they will receive an additional $4,000 cash prize with their award.
Junior journalism major and Montclarion staff writer Genesis Obando participated in the trip to Puerto Rico and was able to utilize the reporting skills she’s learned at Montclair State.
Obando feels like the nomination is one of the best things that has ever happened to her.
“Just knowing that all of the hard work that I put into this project and also my team’s hard work is being recognized at such a prestigious level, I feel like I could [do] so much now that I’m being recognized this way, but it’s also amazing for the university as well,” Obando said.
Obando believes the trip changed her perspective on journalism. Being in Puerto Rico and getting the hang of reporting was impactful for her.
“Actually doing something makes me appreciate [journalism] a lot more and it just shows how important it is and how meaningful sharing other people’s stories can be for them,” Obando said. “[Puerto Rico’s] also getting the attention that they didn’t even get before and it’s great.”
Another student honored for her reporting done in Puerto Rico is alumna Babee Garcia, the former entertainment editor at The Montclarion and now a freelance journalist.
Garcia shared that this trip connected her more to her roots and her peers.
“I’ve never been to Puerto Rico and my father’s side of the family is Puerto Rican. Learning about the music connected me with my culture,” Garcia said. “Exploring the island for the first time and to be with student journalists and professors within the same career as I would like to pursue made it more memorable.”
Learning of the nomination, Garcia is reassured of her career as a journalist. She originally declared journalism to become a writer, but the trip to the island changed everything for her.
“To hear that I was nominated for a national collegiate award, it’s incredible,” Garcia said. “It reassures me that I made the right decision in choosing journalism and makes me feel proud that I have grown into a versatile journalist with so many skills.”
Professor Steve McCarthy, who is part of the professional staff and a producer at Montclair State, was able to join the group of students that included Obando and Garcia in Puerto Rico.
The goal that McCarthy wanted to achieve for the trip to Puerto Rico was to get students into the field and have them understand what it’s like to produce content in an unfamiliar landscape.
“We are trying to get [students] into the field to understand what it’s like to produce content where it’s happening in a foreign place, sometimes with a different language,” McCarthy said. “Also, to get the equipment down and the story to get all the things that it takes to produce content.”
McCarthy is very proud of his students and wants his students to know that just being nominated for this award is already a win.
“It’s unbelievable. Just getting nominated is winning, and they don’t have to win. It’s a validation of all the hard work they put into it,” McCarthy said. “It also validates the school as a place where we’re going to produce content that is recognized nationally.”