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Recognizing distinguished journalists as a PRAD student

My experience attending the DePaul Center for Journalism Integrity & Excellence Awards

By Siona Chibber

Getting involved in DePaul PRSSA means having opportunities arise weekly in your emails. Since joining this organization in the winter, I have already gotten the chance to go to multiple site visits to firms/agencies, attend conferences, as well as receive an invite to an event such as the Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence Awards luncheon.

With a seat at PRSSA’s table, I was able to attend this event with my peers and fellow chapter members at the established Union League Club on Jackson. This award ceremony included students from both Journalism and Public Relations career paths, as well as professionals from those respected fields who came to support the recipients.

After my signup, an itinerary was posted with the schedule for the event which was sent through both Eventbrite and my school email. Below is a copy of the itinerary.

As I walked inside and went up to the venue on the second floor, I was able to check in and receive my name tag. I then took my seat with my fellow DePaul PRSSA Chapter members and awaited the following speeches.

Carol Marin, Co-Director of CJIE and DePaul Faculty member, began by playing a video that attested to DePaul students seeking out studies and careers in Journalism and Reporting. She spoke about the importance of students’ work in this field and the purpose of the program she co-created. With testimonials from students who have made a name for themselves through the program and in Journalism, her speech focused on empowerment and pride for college students and young adults continuing on these paths. Students invited to the event were given further recognition with a round of applause and honorable mentions as well. We were given a warm welcome by a number of established members at the venue!

“Every journalist needs a boss who has their back,” Marin sprinkled in words of wisdom targeted toward students seeking out work. As she concluded her speech she closed with, “Journalism is not for the faint of heart.”

Then to the stage came Don Moseley, the other Co-Director of CJIE and fellow DePaul Faculty member, as he kindly introduced Ms. Sally Ramirez, the recipient of the first award of the day.

Judy Woodruff and Sally Ramirez, honorees at the CJIE Awards Luncheon. (Photo courtesy of Center for Journalism Integrity & Excellence)

Sally Ramirez, a Latina Chicagoan native and DePaul Alumni from 1989, took the stage. She shared her journey from an ordinary intern, to a prominent figure in Journalism as a POC woman. Ramirez went on to detail her gratitude toward DePaul University for opening doors to multiple opportunities and continuously supporting her beyond her graduation.

As a fellow student of color studying both Public Relations and Journalism, I was grateful to witness a beautiful and earnest speech from a respected professional who shared her candid experiences and climb to success in a predominantly male and white-dominated field.

After Ms. Ramirez’s humbling acceptance speech, the next recipient was announced on stage: Judy Woodruff, best known for her work as a journalist, news anchor and broadcaster for multiple well-renowned news networks such as PBS, CNN, and more.

As she took the stage, Ms. Woodruff shared insights on various issues facing the Journalism world over the past few years in the United States. With a lack of bias or favor, she shared concerns about the way news is currently being absorbed by the American people. By touching on factors such as fake news, political bias, misinformation, disinformation and the rise in AI, she covered every pressing topic that journalists are dealing with in their everyday careers. Regardless, of the struggle to share factual information with the public through diverse modes of technology and social media, Ms. Woodruff remained optimistic about the future of this field.

While she states that this craft was coming “under assault” and that citizens were taking advantage of free sources regarding the news, she expressed that there was still hope.

“We are the eyes and ears of the American people. At the end of the day, our job is to go out and gather facts and then report them to the public.”

Woodruff’s words were plain and simple. She went on to share her excitement for the new generation of journalists and reports whom she anticipates will help bring back what it meant to practice Journalism as both a career, art form and duty for their country.

“News is important to our democracy. We need the new wave of journalists to help win back the trust of the American people through our work.”

Pictured above is Ms. Judy Woodruff, the latest recipient of the Distinguished Journalist Award. She shares her positive messages about the future of Journalism with current students.

Getting to witness these two powerful women speak on their careers in writing and communicating was a blessing. I am thankful to have been able to attend this event with my peers.

Opportunities like this are open to DePaul students like myself when you push yourself to get involved in your community and reach out to those who want to help you. The Communication and PR communities at our university are full of people who want to help each other succeed. I was able to go to this event simply because I wanted to learn more about Journalism and get involved in the PR world.

I started by joining PRSSA and other similar clubs, going to events, networking and voila! It is that easy. The best way to get involved in more events like this one is to stay active with other members both in-person and online through social media. So, overall, the best thing to do is make a spot for yourself and start talking to people. You are your strongest advocate – the results will come.

Here are a few more photos from the event and the venue, the Union League Club:

For more information on Judy Woodruff and Sally Ramirez, check out The Center's press release here. The event was also covered by local news outlets, like CBS Chicago.

To learn more about the purpose and creation of the Center for Journalism Integrity & Excellence in the College of Communication, please visit the page here.

Want to join DePaul PRSSA? Come to their current events, which can be found here. The official DePaul PRSSA website, which contains a wealth of information, is available here. And reaching out to the Chapter's leadership team or Faculty Adviser is always welcomed, too.


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