Students such as Park City High School's Catherine Blakemore are the reason The Salt Lake Tribune this month awarded 15 college scholarships to graduating high school seniors interested in pursuing media careers.
"Passions cannot be ignored or stifled," Blakemore said in her application. "I choose to pursue my highest passion which is the field of journalism … a way of life and a type of mind-set. It's the power of investigation in everything you do and the extensive passion for knowledge, compiled with the need to always ask questions and to never stop."
Journalism's future depends on promising such as Blakemore, who along with other recipients receives $1,000.
In addition to Blakemore, editor of the Park City Prospector student newspaper, scholarship winners include:
Kayla Armstrong, Herriman High School • A copy editor and writer for The Telegraph student newspaper, Armstrong credits her grandfather with nurturing her love of journalism.
Armstrong said she and her grandfather "watched the news together and he gave me mini-lessons about politics, economics, international affairs, religion and zoology."
With her grandfather's encouragement, she enrolled in a journalism class, and said she found working on The Telegraph to be her most rewarding high school experience.
"I'm proud of the progress I've made, and I know my grandfather is also proud of me," she said. "The most exciting part of my month is bringing home the newest issue of the paper and giving him a copy so he can read my articles."
Eleanor Cain, Desert Hills High School, St. George • Cain, a writer for the Thunderstruck student newspaper, also has had an article published in Preps Magazine of Provo.
"In the short time I have been exposed [to journalism] it has become part of who I am," she said. "I was already naturally curious in nature. Now I just inherently feel the need to write and tell the world about my findings."
Landon Campbell, Box Elder High School, Tremonton • Campbell designed his high school's Web page. As a high school student, he also developed skills in desktop publishing and computer repair.
In addition, his newspaper production experience extends to a job at Brigham City's Box Elder News Journal, where he works as a printing press assistant.
"Landon is especially talented in Web and graphics design," teacher Allison Williams said. "He is resourceful as he troubleshoots his sites and tries every angle to make sure his page works in all platforms and devices."
Indigo Cook Skyline High School, Millcreek • Co-editor of the Horizon student newspaper, Cook also was part of a high school senior blogging corps for Granite School District.
Teacher Justin Thompson said Cook's sincere interest in learning impressed him.
"Her commitment to growth is rare among young people," he wrote. "Her writing grew in leaps and bounds … Her ability to stay focused on the process of learning while pursuing the product of good grades was outstanding."
Cook, also a percussionist of some accomplishment, said she intends to pursue a double major in music and journalism at New York University.
Hannah Dailami, Taylorsville High School • The editor of the Warrior Ledger student newspaper, Dailami has written articles, taken photographs and designed pages while also excelling as a leader, according to adviser Mary Seal.
"Over the course of my career, I've taught thousands," Seal said. Dailami "would stand above almost every one of those students for her leadership, team motivation and dedication to excellence.
Dailami's work earned her numerous high school journalism awards, including first place in sports writing in the Utah Rocky Mountain High School Mediafest competition.
Drue Harvey, Davis High School, Kaysville • A writer and editor for the Davis Dart student newspaper, Harvey also has won a number of high school journalism awards.
Newspaper adviser Terri Hall speaks highly of Harvey's leadership skills.
"She has handled all controversy for the staff and has shown her love for a free student press in all stories she covers and all work that she completes for the staff."
Mikayla Hepworth, West Jordan High School • Hepworth, sports editor for the JagWire student newspaper, gravitated toward journalism after excelling in an advanced placement language arts class.
Teacher Shauna Robertson said Hepworth made an immediate contribution.
"We have a dedicated staff … but we have very few students who feel confident writing about sports. Mikayla has covered a variety of sports and helped other writers address this weakness," Robertson said. "She takes pride in her work and stays until the job is done."
Hepworth said she's always loved to express herself through writing and sees journalism as a vehicle.
"I have always liked … being able to get to know what is going on with everyone and everything in the world, and even just near me," she said "I always wanted to be able to show someone something new."
Lauren Jackson, Wayne High School, Bicknell • In addition to writing for her school newspaper and working on the yearbook, Jackson writes a weekly report on high school sports for The Insider newspaper.
"Over the years I have come to realize just how important formulating words can be," she said. "Eloquence matters in the real world. Presenting oneself clearly through words has a far-reaching effect in today's society."
Sabiha Masud, Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Salt Lake City • Adviser Christopher Sloan described Masud as "one of the most talented writers I've taught in my 27 years in the classroom."
In addition to writing for the Bulldog Press, she has written for Teen Ink magazine and is editor of Khadeeja Islamic Center's Al Maghrib newsletter.
Masud said she has always "looked at writing as a way to celebrate diversity, explore different opinions and give a voice to the voiceless."
Alex Miele, Park City High School • Editor of the music and arts section of the Park City Prospector student newspaper, Miele said she found comfort in writing after her mother died when Miele was a freshman.
She began studying journalists such as Christiane Amanpour and Dexter Filkins and "What really inspired me was their quest to find and share the truth," she said. "I want to do the same."
Gillian Ponce, Logan High School • Ponce, the online editor for The Grizzly student newspaper, earned a reputation with adviser Phillip Wade for being fearless in finding and questioning sources.
For example, when she grew tired of hearing rumors about what school administrators intended to do to change school traditions around Homecoming, she went directly to the principal, Wade said.
She "asked pointed questions about the rumors she heard, all but one of which she confirmed as untrue," he said. "The answers to her questions were published in a special layout with relevant photos."
Kathleen Stone, West High School, Salt Lake City • In addition to acting as arts and entertainment editor for The Red & Black student newspaper, Stone is a contributor to Edible Wasatch magazine.
After first believing she may want to write novels, Stone discovered journalism and fell in love with the profession.
"It's not the writing that's my favorite part of journalism," she said. "I love having the excuse to talk to people who have interesting stories. I love telling my peers about my beloved community's happenings and I love being able to express my own opinion."
Nisheal Watson, Carbon High School, Price • Watson has spent two years as chief editor of her school paper and because of her "we have a school paper of which we can be proud," teacher Gail Scoville said.
Watson discovered her passion for journalism as a junior. "This became the one class that I always enjoyed," she said. "It was a place where I could express myself. Writing came naturally."
Parker Ynchausti, Viewmont High School, Bountiful • Ynchausti, a staffer for his school's online newspaper and its yearbook, is also a drummer.
His passion for music translated into a strong voice as a reviewer, according to teacher Jenette Jenkins.
"His … knowledge of music, combined with his high standards as a writer, have led to a blog that would favorably compare with any of the top music review sites out there," she said. "We will be sorry to lose his voice on our school newspaper."