By Nyesha Stone
How many awards can one Journalism department win? Well the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies (JAMS) department won over 40 awards within the last year.
They’ve recently just won 11 Society of Professional Journalists awards, which include three first-place regional Mark of Excellence awards. The students’ work competed with universities from a four-state region: Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota and came out on top. First place winners are moved onto nationals and those winners will be announced in late spring.
To be able to win these awards and this many, a great team is needed. With the diversity of UWM’s journalism students and the help of the JAMS department anything is possible.
The UWM JAMS students give thanks to three professors (Jessica McBride, Jessie Garcia and Jane Hampden Daley), academic department associate (Ana Kupiecki) and a digital media specialist (Jeffery Loomis). These five people are the JAMS department, and without them the department would fall apart, according to the students.
“I like that I can use my classes as a creative deck,” said Kristaleen Hernandez, Advertising PR student. “I really like the art side of it… there’s endless possibilities.”
Hernandez started her college career in fall of 2012 not knowing what she wanted to do in life. After taking JAMS 101, she found the JAMS department had endless possibilities that she couldn’t pass up.
The JAMS department doesn’t just provide its students with opportunities but things they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
“They’ve given me the confidence to go interview random people,” said journalism student Brandon Anderegg.
Anderegg was able to take two road trips, one last semester and this current one, to investigate with other UWM students and two professors—McBride and Garcia.
Last semester, Garcia came up with the idea to take her and McBride’s students on an investigative trip to the western Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa to find out why the states flipped from democratic to republican. The students learned what real investigative reporting was and won first place for their hard work. The trip went so well, the teachers decided to do another, but this time in Flint, Michigan.
Around 18 students went to Flint on their spring break to talk to the residents about their water crisis. The project is expected to come out later this month.
What other university takes their students on road trips to investigate? These students now have that “real-life experience” jobs will be looking for once they graduate, so they’re already ahead of the game.
“We have the most interesting and diverse and talented students around,” said Hampden Daley.
She didn’t go on the trip but she did play a role in preparing the students to be able to take on the task with ease.
“Our faculty are some of the most dedicated people I’ve seen in general,” said Kupiecki. “And I’m 100 percent sure our students are going to change the world.”
Kupiecki is the backbone of the department, and without her none of these trips would have been possible.
“I think JAMS is jamming,” said Garcia. “We really have great and passionate students.”
At this point, the JAMS department isn’t sure if they’ll be doing more road trips but they sure hope to.
“I’ll stack our students against any Ivy league school,” said McBride. “Our students do reporting that matters…I’m proud of the role I played in that.”
The students’ faces light up when they talk about the JAMS department and the JAMS department always smiles back.