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FAMU SJGC Ends Academic Year with Two Coveted Hearst Awards

School of Journalism & Graphic Communication graduate Bleu Bell clinched a Hearst Award in the category of Breaking News Writing for the 60th Annual Hearst Journalism Awards. Bell’s award earned her a certificate of merit from the organization out of 96 entries from a pool of 54 schools.

Bell is the second student to win a Hearst Award during the 2019-20 contest, which has rolling deadlines throughout the academic year. In May, Aiyana Ishmael, a journalism major, received a Hearst Award in the college sports writing competition.

“The moment I came to SJGC and learned what a Hearst Award was, I aspired to become a good enough writer to win one. Although that seed was planted years ago, I never could have imagined it a reality without the mentorship and guidance of The Famuan advisors. My journey as a writer is credited to them for sparking a light in me,” Bell said.

Bell’s award-winning article focused on Donald Trump’s visit to Benedict College to deliver a speech at the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum, co-hosted by Benedict and the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center. During Trump’s visit he was recognized with an award for his leadership in passing the First Step Act bill.

“That entire weekend I think I slept a total of 9 hours. I was covering multiple events and was up in my hotel room writing and editing all night. That specific day, the day President Trump came to Benedict College, was madness. My journalist skills were really put to the test and I enjoyed every minute of it,” said Bell.

Bell, a spring 2020 graduate of the public relations program, served as the online editor and managing editor of the Famuan. She is an account coordinator at the Moore Agency and interned with Sachs Media group. She will begin the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University this fall.

Ishmael, a journalism major, received a Hearst Award for her Journey magazine article focused on what it’s like for children of athletic coaches who are often forced to uproot their families and deal with the public spotlight. She has served as the editor-in-chief and managing editor of Journey magazine, and was a Dow Jones News Fund Intern with MediaWise at the Poynter Institute this summer.

Ishmael has received additional national recognition while representing FAMU SJGC. She recently appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press: College Roundtable,” hosted by Chuck Todd. Earlier this year, she became a Knight Foundation Fellow at the 2020 Nicar Conference—one of four historically black college and university (HBCU) students selected by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to attend the event. Ishmael also serves as the sole student representative for the Online News Association (ONA).

The 14 monthly Hearst Award competitions consist of five writing, two photojournalism, one radio, two television and four multimedia, with championship finals in all divisions. The program awards up to $700,000 in scholarships and grants annually.