Athens, Ga. – Olawale “Wale” Dada, a rising senior at Shaw High School in Columbus, was named the “Superstar” of the 2011 Georgia Journalism Academy, hosted by the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
“Wale helped set the proper pace and tone all week in my editorial writing class,” said Cecil Bentley, writing instructor at the academy. “He quickly researched, wrote and edited all class assignments, and he worked well with other students to develop story ideas on a variety of topics. He readily offered his opinions but clearlyrespected opposing views, which made others more comfortablewhen discussing and writing about complex and at times controversial subjects.”
Dada was one of 70 participants of the academy, a weeklong camp for high school journalists. Students from Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and New York lived in a campus residence hall during the week and took classes in the Grady College in one of seven core areas: broadcasting, news writing, feature writing, editorial writing, photojournalism and graphic design. This year’s camp, held June 12-18, was centered around the theme of “Grady Glee.”
Dada was a member of the editorial writing class that provided content for Grady Generation, a 12-page newspaper produced by journalism students at the academy. Broadcast students produced a 12-minute news show called the Grady Glee Report. In addition, students maintained personal blogs throughout the week. Dada said that his experience at the camp helped him develop his journalistic writing.
“I used to think that editorial writing was all about your opinion,” Dada said. “I learned that when you put your opinion out, you have to back it up with solid evidence. The purpose of a column isn’t just to write it, but it’s also to influence your readers.”
Dada said his teacher, and the camp experience in general, has strengthened his desire to pursue journalism as a career. “My passion is to write,” he said, “and to actually write for a cause where I’m doing something to influence positive change.”
A linebacker for Shaw High School’s Red Raider football team, Dada said his dream is to attend the University of Georgia and major in journalism in the Grady College.
“This is the first campus I visited as part of a football camp last year,” he said. “It was great coming back for journalism camp, and my ultimate goal is to get to UGA and come to Grady.”
Top students in each academy class, the Grady Glee “Rising Stars,” were recognized at a closing banquet June 17. Dada was nominated by instructor Bentley for the editorial writing award and was voted on by students as the overall academy “Superstar.”
Along with Dada, the following students were named “Rising Stars” in their respective classes:
* Nicole Alanko (Staunton, Va./Riverheads High School), broadcasting
* Allyson Busch (McDonough/Union Grove High School), photojournalism
* Joshua Cohen (Alpharetta/Woodward Academy), feature writing
* Molly Mannes (Dallas, Texas/Highland Park High School), news writing
* Emma Kissane (Athens/Clarke Central High School), graphic design
In its 26th year, the Georgia Journalism Academy is open to any high school student interested in journalism. Since 2005, CNN has been a strong financial supporter of prospective academy students, this year providing funds for full or partial scholarships for roughly 20 camp participants.
Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in advertising, digital and broadcast journalism, public relations, journalism and mass media arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to the New Media Institute, the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see www.grady.uga.edu or follow @UGAGrady on Twitter.