The scholarship recipients were announced during Missouri Press Association’s 32nd Annual Day at the Capitol in Jefferson City, March 3
Alyssa Fitzgerald, a senior at Boonville High School, and Tayler Gilmore, a freshman at the University of Missouri, have been selected as the inaugural 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.
Fitzgerald plans to study journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism next year, while Gilmore will continue her journalism studies in the 2022-23 academic year thanks to the financial assistance provided by the Rural Missouri Newspaper Scholarship.
The need-based scholarship, which was announced in 2021, awards recipients $5,000 each semester, up to eight semesters while enrolled in the Missouri School of Journalism. 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.
At Boonville High School, Alyssa Fitzgerald is a member of the Pirate Press, the school’s newspaper club. She plays tennis and is a member of Future Business Leaders of America. She is also a tutor in the school’s A+ Program.
Fitzgerald wrote in her application letter that she makes it a priority to stay up to date on current events, and that mixed with a love for writing led her to pursue a career in journalism and study at the Missouri School of Journalism.
“I want to make an impact on people similar to the impact the news had on me,” Fitzgerald wrote. “Getting accepted into the University of Missouri is an accomplishment in itself but being able to pursue what I love while also helping out in a rural town, similar to the one I live in now, would make my experience even better.”
As a freshman at the University of Missouri, Tayler Gilmore already has experience working at the Columbia Missourian thanks to the federal work-study program. Before attending the university, she wrote for Line O’ Type, her Moline, Ill. High School’s newspaper, and served as co-editor, reporter and photographer.
Gilmore has also written for Love Girls Magazine, a bi-annual publication specializing in women empowerment, and she has previously held a paid internship at Midwest Writing Center’s The Atlas 16. Her other activities and volunteer work are extensive and varied, including serving as co-founder and vice president of Minority Leaders of Tomorrow and as a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.
In her application letter, Gilmore wrote she will major in journalism with an emphasis in environmental science. However, due to a breast cancer diagnosis for her mother last year, Gilmore explained she almost had to put her studies on hold.
“I contemplated withdrawing from Mizzou, but we were fortunate enough to pay this year’s tuition using the rest of our emergency savings,” Gilmore wrote. “With this scholarship, I can pay my tuition and continue my education without causing financial stress on my family.”
Rural Missouri Newspaper Scholarship recipients can receive up $40,000. Qualification for need is determined through the federal FAFSA program.
The 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.
If you have questions about the Rural Missouri Newspaper Scholarship, please contact MPA Executive Director Mark Maassen at (573) 449-4167, ext. 308.