Two University of Southern Mississippi students studying broadcast journalism have earned highly competitive fellowships from Raycom Media, Inc.
Seniors Emily DeVoe of Mobile, Ala. and Hillary Stepney of Hattiesburg bested the competition that included students from some of the top journalism schools in the country, including those at the Universities of Missouri and North Carolina. The fellowships included two for reporting and one for meteorology, and provide practical, hands-on experience in preparation for careers in the broadcast industry.
In the five-year history of the fellowship program, this year marks the first time Southern Miss students were selected to participate in the competition, and the first time two students from the same school received both reporting fellowships.
“I’m thrilled for Emily and Hillary,” said Dr. Mary Lou Sheffer, head of the broadcast journalism sequence in the university’s School of Mass Communication and Journalism. “This accomplishment speaks well for them, our program and the opportunities available to students seeking careers in the industry.”
Fellowship recipients are assigned by Raycom to work at one of its television stations, where they are treated as full-time employees with a $25,000 yearly salary and full health insurance. Devoe will join a station in Wilmington, N.C., while Stepney is assigned locally to WDAM-TV.
“I'm so thankful of this chance to enhance my skills and become the best journalist I can be,” Stepney said. “I also appreciate Dr. Sheffer for pushing me to do my best.”
“Receiving this position is incredible. It allows me to begin my career with one of the largest media companies in the country,” DeVoe said. “Hillary and I will also gain experience in every aspect of the news station instead of just one. And being able to experience first-hand how everything in the newsroom intertwines will be beneficial for us in the long run, especially if we take the news-director route one day.”
At the conclusion of the fellowship, the student may be chosen by Raycom to continue working with the company following graduation and receive a $5,000 bonus. “That’s unheard of in journalism,” Sheffer said.
Headquartered in Montgomery, Ala., Raycom Media, Inc. was formed in 1996 and owns or provides services for 53 television stations in 37 markets and 18 states, covering more than 13 percent of U.S. television households and employing nearly 4,000 people.