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Augusta University communication major wins state press award

It’s always nice to be recognized for your work, no matter what field you are in. For Augusta University student Liz Wright, she’s been honored with the Georgia Press Association’s Emerging Journalist Award for the work she’s done at The Augusta Press.

Wright will be a senior in the fall and has had a busy go of it, as of late. Not only has she been working at The Augusta Press, but she also served as the Bell Ringer’s news editor this past year.

Winning the state-wide award came as quite a surprise to her, and she’s not a big fan of the personal accolades.

The Augusta Press executive editor Debbie van Tuyll, who also retired from Augusta University in 2021 as professor in the Department of Communication, nominated Wright for the award.

“It was a very big shock. This is my first real year of journalist so it was a very big shock because I’m sure a lot of other people have had more experience than me in it,” said Wright. “I wasn’t expecting to win it when she nominated me for it and it was a very, very happy surprise.”

Wright’s journey wasn’t originally going to lead to a career in journalism. She originally wanted to be an occupational therapist and was pursuing a career in health services, wanting to help people. She switched to integrated studies and still was unsure about her career path. Eventually, she took a semester off before landing on journalism. Part of that came after talking things over with Career Services advisers at Augusta University.

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Liz Wright

“They suggested that I take these different tests and when I did, one of them came up with three results. One was a teacher and I was like, no, that’s not it. One was a health care provider, and I was like nope. The other one had been like someone in news and broadcast journalism. I’m not too comfortable with the idea of being in front of the camera, but I have always loved writing,” said Wright.

She still wants to be able to help people and said, even though you might not think of a journalist in that way, the stories she will and has covered can be impactful in one’s life.

Her passion for the business began less than two years ago when she started to take journalism classes. Some of her professors helped in a big way in bringing her writing style to life and develop that love for journalism.

Wright credits Rachel Balducci, David Bulla, PhD, chair of the Department of Communication in Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Daniel and Amber Routh as those who have made a major impression on her, not only through encouragement, but also teaching her AP style and even the history of journalism, which she enjoyed learning about.

While Wright was serving as news editor of the Bell Ringer, Daniel Routh saw her potential and talked with his wife about getting her an internship at The Augusta Press. Between the Rouths and Bulla, they were able to get her in, and The Augusta Press was impressed with the freelance writing she had done.

“We weren’t sure what we were getting when we agreed to take Liz on as an intern,” said van Tuyll. “Some of our interns have been great, and some not so great. But almost immediately, she impressed us with her work ethic, her interviewing and reporting skills and writing. That’s why we offered her a full-time job at the end of her internship and why we’ve given her so much responsibility at the paper.”

It became eye opening for her to work in that setting compared to the Bell Ringer.

“It was very different. I remember my second or third assignment with them as an intern, I had to talk a few people that were separate from the college and anything affiliated with Augusta University. And I remember more than one person who said no (to an interview), and that was the first time I had experienced that. It was a little discouraging at first, but I learned how to switch my way of thinking,” said Wright.  

She added there’s a lot of things you learn in the field that you don’t learn in the classroom – from photo placement in a story to making a story stand out from other news outlets, there is more to consider than just the writing aspect of being a journalist.

Two years ago, she didn’t see herself in this position today. As for the future, she’s not big on making plans and realizes in the journalism business, you need to be flexible since it’s an always evolving job. She’s not even overly concerned about where she winds up and wants to stay true to her roots and her beliefs about being a journalist.

“It’s not necessarily about being famous or the prestige of it. I don’t really care, to be honest. People know who I am. I care more about affecting my readers in a way that is profound.”

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Written by
Kevin Faigle

Kevin Faigle is Media Relations Specialist at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at kfaigle@augusta.edu.

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Avatar photo Written by Kevin Faigle

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