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Good Journalism Propagates Itself, Training Student Writers Brings Joy

Some of you may have read my name or seen my face—and some of you have mistaken me for our wonderful Infrastructure Reporter Nick Judin—but I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself while I have your attention. I have worked as an editor with both the Jackson Free Press and now Mississippi Free Press for a combined four years and change under the tutelage of Donna Ladd, one heck of a mentor. 

Usually, I keep a low profile and work behind the scenes to manage our culture and feature content, but I am stepping outside the curtain to brag about our freelancers, particularly our student writers who have decided to dabble in or pursue careers in journalism. Many of these students approached us with little or even no prior journalistic experience, yet they demonstrated an eagerness to learn the craft and a hunger for feedback to help them grow as writers. 

Graduate student Gaven Wallace has covered the Hattiesburg area through articles on two Mississippian visual artists, the pocket museum’s rubber-duck scavenger hunt and a fundraiser to create a scholarship at Pearl River Community College for students who lived in the foster-care system since he joined the Mississippi Free Press team at the beginning of the 2022 fall semester. Gaven has an expanded article on resources to assist foster-care children access higher education that is on the horizon, and he is working on feature stories about Hattiesburg-based improv groups and local music artists. 

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Michelle Chung, a high-school junior also based in Hattiesburg who serves as editor-in-chief of Presbyterian Christian School’s student newspaper, wrote a remarkable Voices article on why she believes anti-trans legislation in regard to sports may not be as “fair” as certain lawmakers claim. She is transitioning into writing features, so readers can expect to see her byline appear in stories such as an upcoming piece about an elementary-school teacher in Petal, Miss., who won a prestigious award this year, among other subjects.

Virginia Sciolino has previously worked closely

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