Journalism and Mass Communication awards four outstanding alumni


John Butte embraces Flash Track recipient Danielle Wiggins during the JMC Awards in Franklin Hall on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015.

Alexis Wohler

 JMC hosted an Alumni Awards Ceremony in Franklin Hall Oct. 2 honoring four distinguished alumni from Kent State’s JMC programs.

The Dean Amy Reynolds, President Beverly Warren and the Director of Journalism and Mass Communication Thor Wasboten recognized and congratulated the award winners.

“The power of the University is measured in the success of the graduates,” Warren said.

Established in 1957, the William D. Taylor Awardis given out to the recipient who has given back to the students or the school of Journalism Mass Communication.

The William D. Taylor Awardwas presented to Christine Plonsky. Plonsky, is a former editor of the Kent Stater and graduated from Kent State in 1979 as the “outstanding student” in journalism.  She currently is the Director of Woman’s Athleticsat The University of Texas, in Austin.

“It’s humbling to receive this award. I was totally surprised,” said Plonsky. “I have so much appreciation for this place, because I credit where I am because of the education and the experience I received at Kent”.

The teachers and professors at Kent state have a special place in her heart. The education she received made her feel challenged, and demanded of, to respect the profession of journalism. She joined the Kent Stater because she knew she needed a practical experience to go along with her classes, in order to advance in her career.

“The Stater was a great college newspaper,” Plonskly said. “They were true professionals, with a lot of pride. It was fun, demanding and collaborative. It was just special and we were a team. There was a connection that was sibling and family like.”

The Fast Track Awardis an award  given to an alumni who has achieved success early in their career of Journalism. David Lawson and Danielle Wiggins were given the award.

Lawson graduated from Kent State in 2011, and currently works as an Insights Strategist at Miner & Co. Studio in New York City specializing in qualitative research.

Wiggins earned a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and a master’s degree in Media Management. Wiggins has also been working for WKYC-TV in Cleveland as the traffic reporter since 2013.

“The people at Kent State made the impossible, possible for me,” said Wiggins.

The Sharon Marquis Friend of JMC Award, is given to an alumni or faculty member who works hard to support the mission of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The Sharon Marquis Friend of JMC Award went to Gary Harwood, and instructor at Kent.

Harwood is a previous winner of the Friend of JMC Award and has had 27 years of experience as a photographer. Through his many years of experience, he has earned numerous local, regional and even national awards.

“It’s truly an honor to be the recipient of this award and I’m very happy to be recognized,” said Harwood.

Harwood started teaching at Kent State University in the mid 1980s. He got started in the photojournalism field by accident, when he switched from being a business major to a photography major. Photography started as his hobby and quickly became his passion.

“Storytelling is the most compelling way to communicate,” said Harwood. “It’s a combination of feeling, backstory, emotion and content. I’m interested in the pureness of stories.”

Alexis Wohler is the CCI reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].