Ohio Journalist

Capital Gains

By Blake Tan | Photos by eli Hiller

(December 1, 2015) — For a college student, money matters. Whether it’s adding up the bills and wondering if your bank account is still in the black, rationing out your supply of ramen noodles for the week, or calculating the costs of a study-abroad program, money matters and it matters a lot.

With the costs of tuition going up, more students are relying on special funds offered by their respective schools. Fortunately for students in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, those funds exist.

Associate Professor Mary Rogus, chair of the scholarship committee, was extremely enthusiastic about the funds available for the 2014-2015 academic year.

“It’s going to be big,” she said, her eyes big with excitement. “It’s up again from initial estimates that we got.… We are going to give away a lot of money this year.”

Compared to the total of $125,000 awarded in the previous year, this year the journalism school awarded a total of $160,700. These funds take the form of various scholarships, some with specific qualifications designed to recognize students of diverse backgrounds, others to support internship experiences that otherwise would be paid by the student out of pocket.

While most of these scholarships are awarded to students who apply for them with the general application form, a few of them require a little extra effort, usually an essay or the submission of previous work. Like many of the Scripps scholarships, these funds are made available in honor of alumni as well as former and current faculty.


One of the newest of these scholarships is the Lasher-Evarts Quality of Writing Scholarship, which is only four years old. It was established with initial donations from Mary Elizabeth Lasher Barnett in honor of her father, George Starr Lasher, the first director of the school, and longtime Scripps professor Dru Riley Evarts. Lasher and Evarts both pushed their students to be better writers. Applicants for the scholarship submit writing samples that are judged for grammar and style. Rogus added that “a record number” of students submitted entries specifically for the Lasher-Evarts.

“It’s one of those scholarships that is named after two people who students and alums would certainly tell you made a big difference in how well they could write coming out of the school of journalism,” Rogus said.


Closely related to the Lasher-Evarts is the George Starr Lasher Living Legacy Award, which also was set up by Mary Elizabeth Lasher Barnett. The award, inspired by trips George Starr Lasher took with groups of students to New York City to experience the culture of a big city, provides funds for a student to have a cultural experience of his or her choice. Recent recipients of this award have traveled abroad.

Graduating senior Ashley Gilkerson received the award during the 2013-2014 school year, using the funds to travel to England. Because of the Lasher Living Legacy Award, Gilkerson had the flexibility to explore London and the surrounding English countryside and to travel to Wales.

While abroad, Gilkerson stayed with people she knew or had connections with, thanks to a friend who helped her plan her trip. She emphasized that since she didn’t have to stay in hotels or hostels, she was able to immerse herself in the culture of the country.

“The scholarship paid for all my airfare and covered pretty much my entire trip, and I stayed there for three weeks so it was a pretty long trip,” Gilkerson said. “It was three weeks, no hotels, and it was so much fun. I saw Big Ben, I saw Parliament, and I saw where Kate had the royal baby.”

Traveling to England has also changed Gilkerson’s longterm plans as an imminent Scripps graduate.

“I actually want to go to law school. It’s definitely not traditional, but everything that I need to be a successful attorney I learned from the Scripps school,” Gilkerson said. “I’m considering doing corporate law, and I’m interested in looking at firms that have London offices, so honestly that experience could be changing the outcome of my life because I could see myself living in that country.”


The Russell Baird High School Newspaper Editor Scholarship is one of the school’s long-established funds. Unique to the scholarship, the Baird is designed for an incoming freshman, specifically one who has been the editor-in-chief of a high school newspaper. Baird was a former graphics and design faculty member. He created the award because he believed in the potential of high school journalists. Baird died in 2012, but his legacy at Scripps continues.

“It’s really fun to look through the entries because students send in copies of their newspapers or their online products so you get a glimpse of who’s coming,” Rogus said. “It’s always impressive to see another über class of freshmen. It gives us an opportunity to see some of the work that our incoming freshmen are doing.”


The largest scholarship offered by the Scripps school, up to $8,000 for a freshman and renewable for three additional years, the Dishon scholarship is awarded to an incoming student who shows incredible promise, Rogus said.

“This is going to be a superstar,” she explained. “This is going to be somebody who [will] take the Scripps School of Journalism by storm.”

The Dishon scholarship is named after 1948 Scripps graduate Bob Dishon and his wife, Koky, who met while working at The Columbus Dispatch. The scholarship committee looks over applications that include each candidate’s portfolio of work, GPA, and recommendations from journalism and English teachers. A limited number of finalists is invited for interviews. The final selection is made after the results of the interviews. All finalists receive at least a $1,000 scholarship, while one walks away with the coveted Dishon.


Awarded to a student with understanding and experience with ethical standards in journalism, the Apgar scholarship is sponsored by 1968 alumnus Randy Apgar’s foundation, the Apgar- Black Foundation. The scholarship is awarded to students who effectively explain through an essay an ethical dilemma they faced with student media, or any associated journalism, and how they dealt with it.

“It recognizes students who faced an ethical dilemma and who struggled through it to come out on the other side, successfully or unsuccessfully, but whichever, they learned something,” Rogus said.

Sophomore Ben Postlethwait received the Apgar scholarship in the 2013-2014 school year. Postlethwait is a Scripps student in the Honors Tutorial College. During his freshman year, he took an immersive ethics crash course.

“One week we talked about race in journalism and racial representation, not only in the newsroom but in the stories we produced,” Postlethwait said. “We talked a lot about hypothetical situations and when you take all of these seemingly simple topics and take them into the real world, they aren’t so simple anymore.”

During these hypothetical situations, Postlethwait and a classmate would have contradicting opinions.

“It was a judgment call,” he said. “This way of teaching ethics, [using] hypothetical situations, is the best way of doing it. I’m happy I took the class so early in my college career. And not a week goes by that I don’t think of something from one of those classes.”

All of the scholarships offered by the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism are made possible through the contributions of alumni and faculty.

“We’re really, really lucky in the school of journalism because we have great alums,” Rogus said. “Probably 80 percent of all of these scholarships come from or honor alums, and that’s just a great statement about how wonderful our alums are and how willing they are to give back.”

As a student and recipient of these endowments, Postlethwait said that the scholarships incentivize hard work in a clear way.

“Knowing that my scholarship came from my school itself, that I was getting a monetary vote of confidence from someone that came before me, that was very encouraging,” he said.

And Scripps students understand that this money doesn’t simply spring up out of nowhere.

“Everyone writes a thank you note to the endowment,” Postlethwait said. “It’s an investment back into the quality of education that Scripps is giving its students.”

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