Congratulations to the winners of the Masters of Journalism 2020 graduating awards.
Every year, the awards are announced at a graduation reception following the main UBC commencement ceremony. Due to COVID-19, the School was not able to host an in-person graduation reception.
We are announcing the recipients here to highlight their contributions throughout the program, and to thank the support of the donors who have endowed the awards.
Internally-adjudicated meritorious awards
The following two internal awards are offered based on recommendations of the School. All graduating students are considered.
Hal Straight Gold Medal in Journalism
The Hal Straight Gold Medal in Journalism has been endowed by Beverley J. Straight and Robert H. Straight in honour of their father, Hal Straight, who was an editor, managing editor, and publisher for more than 50 years. The award is offered to the most outstanding graduate student in Journalism and is made on the recommendation of the School.
Braela Kwan is this year’s recipient of the Hal Straight Gold Medal. During her time as a student, she travelled to Nepal to report on education as part of the Global Reporting Program, investigated high lead levels in Whistler’s tap water with the Tainted Water series, and covered climate justice and cannabis agriculture for The Tyee last summer. She is now completing a fellowship with News21.
Donna Logan Scholarship Award in Investigative Journalism
The Donna Logan Scholarship Award in Investigative Journalism has been endowed by friends and family of Donna Logan, Founding Director of the UBC School of Journalism. Professor Logan devoted her professional and academic life to the promotion of the highest standards of journalism in Canada and abroad. The award is offered to the student who holds the highest overall grade point average and who has indicated an interest in pursuing a career in investigative journalism.
Brandon Wei is the recipient of this year’s Donna Logan award. He investigated high lead levels in Whistler’s tap water along with Kwan and the Tainted Water team, reported on B.C.’s disappearing old-growth forests and its connection to the province’s severe summer wildfires, and completed a thesis-equivalent project comparing and contrasting professional norms in science and journalism.
Competitive application awards
The following awards are offered to graduating students who apply with their best work in the corresponding categories.
Susan M. Boyce Graduate Scholarship in Journalism
The Susan M. Boyce Graduate Scholarship in Journalism has been endowed by Roy Barnett in honour of his sister, Susan M. Boyce, for graduate students in the Master of Journalism Program in the School of Journalism. Susan is a longtime Vancouver-based journalist and a firm believer in the need to support and mentor aspiring writers in this exciting career. Students apply with their best feature writing work.
This year’s recipients of the Susan M. Boyce Scholarship are Candice Lipski and Leah Siegel.
Candice Lipski produced a long-form feature article diving into female-identifying drag performers in Vancouver as part of the Feature Writing course co-taught by David Beers and James MacKinnon. She also covered one Vancouver attorney’s story from practicing family law to helping those fight renovictions after being renovated himself. This past winter, she travelled to Kenya to report on education as part of the Global Reporting Program, the story of which will be published later this year.
Leah Siegel’s feature writing is informed by her background in the arts, culture, and theatre production. She’s written about fashion created by an ex-firefighter who aims to demystify B.C.’s summer wildfires, and produced a script for an in-depth audio documentary exploring the stories of a group of Eastern European immigrants finding home in a weekly game night of Mafia that’s lasted a decade.
Rafe Mair Prize in Journalism
The Rafe Mair Prize in Journalism has been endowed by The Jim Pattison Broadcast Group in honour of Rafe Mair, a radio personality and political commentator. It is awarded to a student in the graduating class in the Master of Journalism program who has produced the best published work of public service journalism.
Kassidie Cornell is receiving the Rafe Mair Prize. She reported on topics of public safety in relation to cars ignoring stop signs, how an organization is educating the city on earthquake preparedness, and a mental health initiative for student athletes. She is also part of the Global Reporting Program and travelled to Kenya this past winter to report on education.
Master of Journalism Award
The Master of Journalism Award is awarded by the School for the best journalism contributions to cultural diversity, inclusion, equity and diversity — all of which are strategic initiatives supported by the School and by UBC.
This year, there are three winners of the Master of Journalism Award: Hina Imam, Rumneek Johal, and Collins Maina.
All three students’ work carry a social justice undercurrent that focuses on reframing misrepresentations and countering stereotypes of minority communities.
Hina Imam produced a feature highlighting the plight of international students when affording elevated tuition rates and rising costs of living in Vancouver — all while not legally able to work full-time on a student visa. She’s also covered the multilayered identity of Muslim women and what the burqa symbolizes, and travelled to Nepal with the Global Reporting Program to report on education.
Rumneek Johal produced a thesis-equivalent project looking at the lived experiences of two families in Surrey, B.C. and how they’ve navigated stereotypical media representation of their city in their jobs and in their lives. She also reported a three-part series on the microaggressions and aggressions experienced by Black people after a young Edmonton student was asked to remove his durag at school for its alleged “gang affiliations.”
Collins Maina produced multimedia pieces featuring the story of a body-positive personal training space that centres people of colour and LGBTQ+ folk, a video exploring the founder of Van Vogue Jam who builds community in Vancouver through Voguing, and a mini-doc about a Queer recreational therapist who found themselves and their community through hoop dancing.
Helen Badenoch Scholarship
The Helen Badenoch Scholarship is a bequest from Ida Helen Badenoch and is awarded to students with the most proficient work done in community health and journalism.
Jamuna Galay-Tamang is this year’s winner of the Helen Badenoch Scholarship. During her second year in the program, she was part of the inaugural team of the Tainted Water series that looked into high levels of lead and other contaminants in Canadian tap water. She continued her research under the Fox International Fellowship at Yale University, where she focussed on how lead in drinking water impacts the health of Indigenous peoples and potentially influences violent crime in Indigenous communities.