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Top Journalism Students Honored in Annual Awards Ceremony

The focus was on student excellence at the Streitmatter Awards and KTA induction ceremony.

Award winners with Rodger Streitmatter and Thomas Grooms

Journalism students were honored in an annual awards ceremony at American University School of Communication (AU SOC) which included the induction into the Kappa Tau Alpha (KTA) honor society; the Rodger Streitmatter Journalism Award for Excellence; and the Rodger Streitmatter Journalism prizes. Professors Lynne Perri and Terry Bryant oversaw the selections and hosted.

Eleven students were sworn into AU's chapter of KTA, which recognizes academic excellence in journalism and mass communication. The new members are: Isis Sekai Amusa, Abigail Sarah Bender, Bonnibelle Bishop, Ruby Eve Fair, Gabriel J. Ferris, Olivia Kozlevcar, Natasha LaChac, Grace F. Nowak, Sydney Ruth Soka, Sophia Elizabeth Thomas, and Sydney Alice Wender. Perri, who serves as AU's KTA faculty representative, administered the oath and presented each student with a certificate and an honor cord to be worn at commencement.

Streitmatter, the popular SOC professor emeritus and scholar, former newspaper reporter and AU alumnus who retired in 2020, presented the top journalism award to Gabe Ferris, a broadcast journalism senior already working as an ABC News production assistant on Capitol Hill, who read his winning essay. Gabe was selected by judges Amy Eisman, Perri and Streitmatter. Gabe’s name will be engraved on the Streitmatter trophy, which is housed at SOC, and he will receive $2,300, thanks to the generous donation from Streitmatter's husband, Thomas Grooms, in honor of Streitmatter. 

Tom Grooms, Terry Bryant, Gabe Ferris, Rodger StreitmatterL to R: Tom Grooms, Terry Bryant, Gabe Ferris, Rodger Streitmatter. 

Streitmatter and Grooms also provided financial gifts to the top undergraduate journalism students. First place recipients received $300. Second place recipients received $150. They are:

  • Best Story from COMM 320: First place, Mariana Trujillo Valdes; second place, Jane Fusco and Francine Worsoff

  • Best Story from COMM 425: First place, Joe Reberkenny; second place, Isis Amusa and Kate Corliss

  • Best Audio Story: First place, Maddy Gerber; second place, Maegan Seaman

  • Best Video Story: First place, Gabe Ferris; second place, Maegan Seaman and Hallie Brannick

AU alums and journalism professionals volunteered their time to judge the student work. They include: Paul Albergo, retired from Bloomberg and an SOC adjunct instructor; Luz Lazo, Washington Post; Neil Augenstein, WTOP radio; Fenit Nirappil, Washington Post; Michael O'Connell, Patch editor; Marisha Goldhamer, AFP; Rob Roberts, digital strategy consultant; Katrina Kincade, reporter at Boston WBZ; Whitney Harris Christopher, SOC Professorial Lecturer; Jill Olmsted, SOC professor; and Streitmatter, SOC professor emeritus.