Both will study at the Missouri School of Journalism beginning in the fall and spend at least two years at a rural Missouri newspaper after earning their degrees.
Two Missouri high school seniors, Ella Bradford from Gallatin and Samuel Cox from Fordland, have been selected as this year’s recipients of the Rural Missouri Newspaper Scholarship. The scholarship is a partnership of the Missouri Press Association, Missouri Press Foundation, University of Missouri School of Journalism and Reynolds Journalism Institute.
Both Cox and Bradford plan to study journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism next year, with both agreeing to work at rural Missouri newspapers following graduation as part of the scholarship process.
The Rural Missouri Newspaper Scholarship awards recipients $5,000 each semester, up to eight semesters while enrolled in the Missouri School of Journalism. Qualification is determined through the federal FAFSA program. Students can also receive an additional $5,000 summer fellowship funded by RJI and can apply for a further $1,200 from RJI’s Potter Digital Ambassador program.
A member of Logan-Rogersville High School’s Contemporary Issues Club and the Scholar Bowl team, Cox maintains a 4.0 GPA while also working at a local pharmacy.
Cox wrote in his application essay that writing, photography, history and politics have always been passions of his. But a family vacation to Washington, D.C. before his senior year of high school opened his eyes to how those passions would translate to a career in journalism.
“My time in D.C. overlapped with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and when I found myself at the steps of the Supreme Court, I had the revelation that history is still alive,” Cox wrote. “I snapped photos as a megaphone was passed from woman to woman at the core of the crowd, with each sharing how Roe v. Wade impacted her life and how its overturning would change the lives of those she loved. The passionate stories of those in tears at that protest isn’t a detail included in history books.
“It’s something you experience by being part of history, by taking a role in a movement or community, or, by being a part of the news,” he added.
Cox may have been inspired by his D.C. trip, but his takeaway wasn’t to finish school and move to a bustling metropolis. Rather, he sees the need in small, rural communities for the same kind of coverage those protests in the nation’s capital received.
“Working for a newspaper far away from the national news might be unappealing to some. They might feel there isn’t history to be seen out here or that it can’t be impactful, however, I’m drawn to news in the small towns of Missouri for the exact opposite reason,” Cox wrote. “Here, I understand the community and can have a greater impact on it than I ever could working in the hustle of urban life.”
Bradford maintains a 4.0 GPA at Gallatin High School, where she is also president of Future Business Leaders of America, and serves as district president. Additionally, she is a member of the Yearbook staff, has been involved with Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America for six years, played varsity sports and served on Student Council all four years of high school.
She also works part-time and has an extensive history of volunteering in the community with a variety of causes and organizations. After earning her degree, Bradford hopes to be able to return local news coverage to her hometown.
The closing of the Gallatin North Missourian in recent years was a revelation for Bradford about community newspapers. “Now that it does not exist, I can say that I understand the importance of a newspaper in each community, and I believe the Gallatin newspaper should be brought back.”
Bradford describes Gallatin as “small and close-knit” and without a newspaper, residents have to rely on other newspapers in the area with the hopes they include news about her town.
“We are still in need of a system that relays our news as many members of the of the community relied on [the newspaper],” Bradford wrote in her application essay. “There are many people around me that do not use social media and the internet. With this, they do not always know what is going on, and if they do it is days after. This is why our town needs a way to relay news.”
The Missouri Press Foundation will work directly with Missouri newspaper publishers to find the best match for scholarship recipients. The intent is for the student to fulfill the two-year post-graduation requirement at the newspaper where they intern. Newspapers will be expected to help the student find housing for the summer internship program and assist with finding housing for the post-graduation period.
Questions about the Rural Missouri Newspaper Scholarship can be directed to Missouri Press Foundation Director Michael Harper at (573) 449-4167, ext. 303, or at email@example.com. Applications for the scholarship are accepted at the beginning of each year, and funds are applied in the fall semester of the following school year.