“We look for exceptional writing talent, of course, but we also prize the desire to dig for the truth and tell stories that could change the world,” Skenazy said.
Zohreen Adamjee was awarded a $6,000 McCormick Scholarship honoring Lauren Terrazzano, the late Newsday reporter and columnist. Terrazzano died in May 2007 at age 39 of lung cancer. She won a posthumous Front Page Award in 2007 for her Newsday column, “Life with Cancer.”Cambrey Noelle Thomas was awarded a $6,000 McCormick Scholarship known as the Joan O’Sullivan Scholarship Award. This is the second O’Sullivan Award given since the scholarship was created to honor the McCormick Fund’s long-time president, Joan O’Sullivan, who died in September 2008. O’Sullivan, who was an award-winning columnist for King Features Syndicate before she retired, was a past president and board member of the Newswomen’s Club of New York.
This year’s winners were selected from among 48 applicants, the most in a McCormick Scholarship competition in recent memory.
A News Addict
In her winning McCormick entry, Adamjee wrote about growing up in Los Angeles “with newly immigrated Pakistani parents” and pursuing the L.A. dream of working in the entertainment industry. Then her cousin was kidnapped by the Taliban — and suddenly she became addicted to the news. From that grew her desire to “cover the news,” she wrote.
Fluent in Urdu and Gujarati, Adamjee also is studying Arabic again. She hopes to someday cover the Middle East.
Known as “Zo,” Adamjee blogs about technology for The Los Angeles Times. She created an audio series of “Behind the Scenes” interviews with LA Times reporters on how they landed a specific story. In 2006, she earned a B.A. degree in mass communications from UCLA. Adamjee plans to graduate from Columbia J-School in May 2011 with an M.S. degree in journalism, with a newspaper concentration.
A Survivor’s Story
Thomas, a former Detroit Free Press blogger, wrote her winning McCormick essay about surviving childhood cancer at ages 9 and 10 — only to struggle with learning and memory problems — as a seventh grader. Her brain was suffering the side effects of aggressive chemotherapy, which weren’t that well known in 1998. In danger of being forced to repeat seventh grade, she got some tutoring in math and went on to the eighth grade.
In high school, Thomas refused to accept an ACT score of 17 as the best she could do. Her research showed that “statistically, low-income female students of color scored the lowest,” she wrote, adding: “I was furious and decided my friends and I would not become statistics,” She found a free prep program and organized a study group with her friends, writing: “We took the test again and I scored a 25.”
Thomas spent almost three months in New York in early 2009 while working as a web intern for Self magazine. She did another internship with Detroit Public Radio. Thomas earned a B.S. degree in journalism and animate arts at Northwestern University’s Medill School in May 2009. The summer after graduation, she taught journalism to teens on the South Side of Chicago. Ultimately, she wants to be a “story teller” with an eye toward becoming an editor later in her career. At Columbia J-School, Thomas will focus on digital media. She aims to graduate in May 2011 with an M.S. degree.
— Jan Paschal