For the second year in a row, the New York Women in Communications Inc. (NYWICI) Foundation has awarded a significant number of scholarships to students from Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications. Five of the 19 scholarships awarded by the organization this year went to IC sophomores, while last year IC students took home six of 22 awards.
“I’m so proud of the number and range of awards earned by our Park School students this year,” said Diane Gayeski, dean of the Park School. “From investigative journalism through academic excellence to television channel branding and sports broadcasting, our students excel in a highly competitive environment.”
NYWICI scholarship recipients pose for a photo with Hoda Kotb at the "Today Show" studio. (Photo provided)
The scholarships, which reflect academic excellence, financial need and a demonstrated commitment to the field of communications, are given each year to female students at the high school, undergraduate and graduate levels who are committed to pursuing careers in communications. This year, a number of scholarships were sponsored by individuals, foundations or corporations.
Emma Beltrandi received the Ann Liguori Foundation Sports Media Scholarship; Emma Noblesala received the Hearst Scholarship; and Alexis White received the Meredith Corporation Scholarship. Jennifer Walsh received a general scholarship.
Anna Gardner, who serves on NYWICI’s sponsorship committee, received the Alumna Award of Excellence Scholarship. The award is reserved for students who have previously received a scholarship from NYWICI and display dedication to the organization. Gardner was awarded her first scholarship last year, and is one of only 26 women to receive more than one.
In addition to monetary prizes, scholarship winners also receive a NYWICI membership and are paired with mentors to help them as they begin their careers. Gardner’s mentor is Sheryl Victor Levy, an Ithaca College alumna who leads Global Strategy Group’s digital practice. Gardner said that she was paired with Levy because of the work she has done with nonprofits and museums, an interest Gardner shares.
“We’ll have monthly check-ins over the phone or via Skype and any other time I have questions,” Gardner said. “It varies from professional to personal mentoring.”
To accept their awards, the students traveled to New York City to attend the annual Matrix Awards on April 24. The Matrix Awards honor outstanding women in the communications industry. This year’s honorees included “New York Times” foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi, journalist Gretchen Carlson, and Smith & Company founder and Chief Executive Officer Judy Smith, who was the model for Olivia Pope — the lead character on the television program “Scandal.”
In the green room before the awards, the students mingled with honorees and celebrities like Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie. “We weren’t really treated like students, we were just treated like professionals in the field,” said White.
Noblesala met and spoke with Hearst Magazine Chief Content Office Joanna Coles. As the Hearst Scholarship winner, she will have the opportunity to visit Hearst Tower, the global headquarters of Hearst Communications.
White was able to meet Nancy Weber, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Meredith Corporation. As the recipient of the Meredith Corporation Scholarship, White will intern at the company’s headquarters in New York City this summer.
Noblesala said that attending a function with so many successful women was empowering. “I didn’t realize how cool it is to be a woman in the communications industry and how much women are doing,” said Noblesala. “It makes me proud to be female.”
While in New York City, the students were also able to go to the “Today Show” studio, where they had the opportunity to meet Katie Couric and Hoda Kotb.
Gardner said that she believes Ithaca College’s strong showing at NYWICI can be attributed to the quality of training students receive at the Park School, as well as the role of student organizations like IC Women in Communications, a group that is modeled after, but unaffiliated, with NYWICI. “They’ve been doing a great job of taking what NYWICI does and taking it into our collegiate context and doing professionalism workshops and things like that,” said Gardner.
The NYWICI Foundation is the largest provider of communications scholarships for women in the country. Scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 are awarded based on academic achievement, leadership, participation in school and community-service activities, honors and other awards or recognition, work experience and the applicants’ statements of goals and aspirations.