Five students and three faculty produced the project, titled “M-Powered: University of Mississippi students learn through service in Belize.” It included a print depth report, television series and videos documenting the interdisciplinary work of dozens of University of Mississippi students and faculty in Belize over the past few years.
The five students – Aubry Killion, Cain Madden, Jajuan McNeil, Margaret Ann Morgan and Katie Williamson – traveled to Belize during Winter Intersession January 2012 for their reporting. They were accompanied by Student Media Director/Assistant Professor Patricia Thompson, editor and faculty leader for the project, and Assistant Professor Mikki Harris, photography/video Editor. They spent part of spring semester finishing their work. Assistant Professor Darren Sanefski was design editor for the print depth report. Students wrote articles, took photographs, wrote scripts for the television series, produced videos and other online content, and did all the production and on-air work for the television series.
The multimedia course was a partnership with the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education. Students received scholarship support.
Key to the project’s success were the assistance and support of former Ole Miss social work professor Kim Shackelford and the many University of Mississippi students and faculty who have performed service-learning work in Belize. The major effort in Belize has been an empowerment project in the tiny community of San Mateo, which needed roads to link residents to basic services.
The RFK Center honors books and journalism. The awards recognize outstanding reporting on issues that reflect Robert Kennedy’s dedication to human rights and social justice, and his belief in the power of individual action. The Meek School won the only college award.
Other 2013 winners include NBC News for international TV, PBS/Frontline for domestic TV, the New York Times for international print, the Los Angeles Times for new media and CNN for photography. The book award goes to Joseph E. Stiglitz, author of “The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Society Endangers Our Future.”
The awards ceremony is Sept. 26 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Honorees receive a cash gift and a bust of Robert F. Kennedy by Robert Berks.
This is the second RFK national award for the Meek School in recent years. In 2011, a depth report, led by Bill Rose and titled “The Roads of Broken Dreams: Can a New Delta Arise from the Rot of the Old South?” won a college print RFK award.
Four of the five students on the Belize project have graduated. Killion and Morgan are working as television journalists, and Madden is a newspaper editor; all three were actively involved at the Student Media Center during their Ole Miss years. McNeil, who has a bachelor’s degree from the Meek School and graduated in May with a master’s from the IMC program, is a marketing professional. Williamson, a journalism and art double major working this summer as Daily Mississippian photography editor, graduates in December.