JMC honors alumni, friends at annual award ceremony

Alicia Balog

As a freshman in 1978, Sam Roe snuck into Taylor Hall to see where he would spend his next four years. As he walked through the dark hallways, he stumbled across a glass case housing the William Taylor Award, named after the founder of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

While he admitted he was terrified to start school, he said William Taylor and the school inspired him. He knew was in the right spot.

Now almost 30 years later, Roe received the William Taylor award at the annual JMC Alumni and Friends Awards Reception and Ceremony Friday at 5 p.m. in Franklin Hall.

“As an 18-year-old looking at that award and then winning it now, it was like my dream come true back then,” Roe said. “You know, as an 18-year-old, you see something like that and you know, at the time, you don’t think that’s something going to be possible.”

Roe, a 1983 graduate, works as a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He investigated the use of the toxic metal beryllium in the Cold War, which led to the Department of Energy creating an $8 billion national compensation plan for ill or injured workers. He also won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 as part of a group investigation into unsafe children’s products, JMC director Thor Wasbotten said.

When Wasbotten previously called Roe about the award, Roe said would give up his Pulitzer Prize, which Wasbotten said wasn’t necessary.

“Fortunately, Sam, you do not have to give up your Pulitzer for the Taylor Award,” Wasbotten said during the ceremony.

Joking aside, Roe said he thought there was no higher honor than being recognized by his school.

“(Taylor) was a great reporter, a great educator, a great leader at this school,” Roe said, “and to be associated with his name is truly, truly a high honor.”

Also during the ceremony, 2003 Kent State graduate Shannon Lanier, an author, motivational speaker and now co-host of “Arise Entertainment 360” received the fast-track alumnus award. Jet Magazine recently honored him as a “40 Under 40 Trailblazer,” as well.

Another honoree, Jenn Yokley, graduated in 2010 and worked her way up quickly, receiving two promotions since graduating three years ago, JMC associate professor Michele Ewing said. Yokley now serves as manager of corporate communications for Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena and, because of her work, received the fast-track alumna award.

2008 graduate Chris Hallahan works as a designer and developer for university communications and marketing department. He helped launch the new JMC website and received one of the Friends of JMC awards.

Jennifer Kramer, a 2000 graduate and director of public relations and marketing for the College of Communication and Information, also received a Friends of JMC award for organizing press releases and media and public relations events for the school.

Wasbotten announced a surprise award for JMC senior secretary Sharon Marquis, who will be leaving the school in December. The Friends of JMC award is being renamed after Marquis.

“It’s been my privilege to work at JMC, and I spent all 42 of those years right here in this school and no place else on this campus,” Marquis said. “And when I was asked to come back after I retired, it was because I was coming back to the school — not to the university. So my heart is right here in this school.”

Contact Alicia Balog at [email protected].