FAMU students win AP awards, scholarship

David Snyder of ABC 20 in Gainesville Florida working with Shay Simon on her reel.
Photo credit: Brandon Jones


ORLANDO — Florida A&M’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication was well represented at this year’s student Associated Press awards ceremony on Saturday.

Senior broadcast journalism students Shay Simon and Jessika Ward were recipients of AP awards for some of their work at SJGC.

Simon received an award for best light news feature short format.

“I’m elated and super excited that I got this,” Simon said. “I’m officially an award-winning journalist.”

Ward, who won twice at last year’s AP awards competition, brought home her third plaque for a documentary she created with SJGC graduate Romani Poole. The 15-minute documentary, “Taking the Jersey Off,” was awarded for a long format news feature.

“It (’Taking the Jersey Off’) is about athletes who have ended their athletic career and what has happened to them after,” Ward explained.

The narrative documentary included interviews with former football players, some who have been diagnosed with the troubling brain injury Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

The day began at 9 a.m. and ended around noon. The awards were presented at the Wyndham hotel, which included a series of speakers in the media industry before indulging in workshops with students and looking over reels.

“We were able to meet one-on-one with the AP board. They critiqued our reels, resumes and I was able to pull up my website,” Simon said. “I got a lot of great feedback from an actual news director who was pleased with my work and said I’m ready to work now.”

After board members and on-air talent spoke with the students for a few hours, the presenting of the awards closed out the day.

Simon and Ward accepted their awards along with other student journalists from the University of Florida and the University of Miami.

A handful of scholarships were also presented. On the receiving end of one of these scholarships was Kayla Parker, a graduating broadcast journalism student at FAMU.

“I had no idea I was receiving this scholarship so it was a wonderful surprise,” Parker said. “I’m very fortunate to have my work noticed.”