Celebration of Excellence 2013

Last night, 30 students were recognized with the Jody Deering Nyquist Public Speaking Awards, the Pioneer Awards, the Deborah Kaplan Awards, the Nyquist Undergraduate Research Awards, and the Faculty Awards for Outstanding Completed Research.

“I have the great privilege of being the Chair of the Department of Communication,” David Domke said, “so an evening like this, when I see students come up front and I see parents, friends, alums, donors, supporters, and all kinds of other people come in; it’s one of those moments that I’m almost like a parent. And this is why we do what we do, to see these kinds of experiences.”

Public Speaking

Maddy Epstein (L), Kelly Towne, and Emily Duerson (R) compete in the public speaking contest.

The ceremony began with a public speaking contest between three finalists. Each quarter, the public speaking course is broken down into smaller sections of students who nominate two speakers from each section to be eligible for the end of the year speech competition. From those approximately 70 students, Emily Duerson, Madeline Epstein, and Kelly Towne were chosen as the last three standing.

“The whole issue is not simply explaining to us why you think what you think, but instead being civil and being strategic,” Professor Matt McGarrity said, “and thinking about how to develop an argument that is persuasive but really thinking through the perspective of another person.”

The award is named after Jody Deering Nyquist, who is an undergraduate and graduate alumna in speech communication, a former faculty member, as well as a member of the Communication Hall of Fame. Alumni Elaine Ikoma Ko (B.A., 1975 who is also a Hall of Fame member), Jennifer Clark (B.A., 1992), and Anna Earnest (B.A., 2006) were the judges for the evening. Epstein came in third place with her speech about the Washington State legislature opposing differential tuition at the UW; next came Towne with her speech about the U.S. federal government enacting the Paycheck Fairness Act; and in first place was Duerson with a speech about the U.S. federal government ending the practice of birth citizenship.

The Pioneer Awards were presented next by Professor Mike Henderson and Mike Gugliotto, the president and CEO of Pioneer News Group Co. The awards were given to students exemplifying excellence in journalism in the areas of community journalism, design and editing, entrepreneurial journalism, Olympia Legislative reporting, opinion writing, and feature writing. Recipients included Ilona Idlis, Lily Katz, Kristine Kim, Jimmy Lovaas, Marika Price, and Joseph Sutton-Holcomb.

Kaplan Awards

Gordon Kaplan (second from right) attends lunch with faculty and Kaplan Award winners.

Next, Professor Doug Underwood and Gordon Kaplan took the stage to present the Deborah Kaplan Awards, named in honor of Gordon’s sister who was a professor in the Department of Communication who passed away unexpectedly in 2006. Since she had a long history of writing about social issues and doing in-depth interviewing, each recipient was recognized for a specific story that focused on people on the margins, strong writing style, a human personality profile, a strong epiphany, and an important public issue. Winners in this category included Joshua Glantz, Bo Johnson, Trennesia Jackson, Zachary Kirshbaum, and Ning Liu.Jody Nyquist returned to the stage to present the Nyquist Undergraduate Research awards. Alana Alexander, Lauren Laissue, and Emilee Goo were recognized for their

Professor Matt McGarrity introduces the Nyquist Undergraduate Research Awards with Jody Nyquist looking on.

Professor Matt McGarrity introduces the Nyquist Undergraduate Research Awards with Jody Nyquist looking on.

project about American tabloid portrayals of celebrity scandals. Ryoto Onaka’s research gave a new and thoughtful perspective on 2013 Super Bowl commercials, and a group of four students (Leewan Li, Monia Liu, Dilys Ng, Jamie Sun) were awarded for their project about how U.S. and Chinese magazines portray images of women differently.

Domke introduced the Faculty Awards for Outstanding Completed Research, which are made possible by Communication Hall of Fame member Peter Clarke. Clarke started a program called From Wholesalers to the Hungry that delivers unused food that would otherwise be thrown away to places it can be utilized in other communities. He has created a research fund to support graduate students, and this year expanded it to undergraduate students as well. The winners for undergraduate honors thesis research were Jessica Kamzan and James Kim, Elizabeth Cortez for M.A. thesis, a group of four students (Matthew Davis, Ryan Risenmay, Mariana Llamas-Cendon, and Lisa Kennelly) for an MC project, and John Crowley for a Ph.D. dissertation.

Bill Chamberlin passes on Robert Stevenson's gown to graduating Ph.D. student Jason Gilmore.

Bill Chamberlin passes on Robert Stevenson’s gown to graduating Ph.D. student Jason Gilmore.

To conclude the ceremony, a special event took place where alum Bill Chamberlin (B.A. 1967, Ph.D. 1976) passed on his colleague and friend’s robe to Jason Gilmore, a graduating Ph.D. student. The robe belonged to Robert Stevenson, also a Ph.D. alum, who passed away several years ago. Stevenson was a world-renowned scholar in international communication and requested that his robe be given to a student with a similar passion. Gilmore earned an M.S.S. in international studies, as well as a B.A. in international affairs from the University of Colorado, where he focused on the United States’ relations with Mexico and Latin America. He is fluent in Spanish and spent most of his childhood in Guadalajara, Mexico. Gilmore was the perfect match to receive the honored robe, with a monetary value of $1,000.

We usually think of an award in terms of certificates, or often trophies, or crystal balls in the shape of a football,” Chamberlin said, “but I learned in my very first class at the University of Washington sitting in this room that words are not things and that we are the ones that attach meaning to objects. That is particularly important tonight.”

To see all the photos from last night’s event, check out our Flickr>>