WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 29, 2014) -- The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is proud to announce the selection of Claudia Balthazar and Averi Harper as the association's 2014 Student Journalists’ of the Year. The award usually recognizes one black-full time collegiate journalist who displays a commitment to NABJ's goal of outstanding achievement within the field of journalism. "The board of directors spent a long time debating who should be given this award," said NABJ President Bob Butler. "In the end board members felt Claudia and Averi were such outstanding journalists that they both deserved to be honored." Balthazar, who graduated in May with a degree in Journalism from Hofstra University's Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, was recently selected to participate as a fellow in the Carnegie-Knight News21 Fellowship program at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is the first student from Hofstra to participate in the 10-week summer program. Balthazar has served as NABJ's Region I Student Representative and President of Hofstra University’s Association of Black Journalists (HofstraUABJ). She also participated in NABJ's 2013 Student Multimedia Project, and received the 2013 Fox News Channel University/Ailes Rising Apprentice Scholarship and the 2013 New York Women in Communications Scholarship recipient. In connection with the latter award, Balthazar appeared on NBC's "The Today Show."
Earlier this year, Balthazar started an independent study on gun control in the village of Hempstead, NY. For the study, she launched “TheBalthazar” report where she interviewed several people in the community about the effect of gun laws. She will continue her research on gun laws through the Carnegie-Knight News21 Fellow program. "I feel honored and excited, and I appreciate this award," said Balthazar, an aspiring television producer. "I would credit many people with my accomplishments, but mainly my parents, the New York Association of Black Journalists, HofstraUABJ, and the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, as well as my friends and family." Like Balthazar, Harper is an active NABJ student member, where she served as President of the Columbia University Association of Black Journalists and participated in NABJ's 2012 Student Multimedia Project. The University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill '13 alumnae was the lead reporter and anchor of Carolina Week. She graduated from Columbia in May with a master's degree in Journalism.
In this role, she won many awards, including the prestigious Hearst Foundation Journalism Awards, where she was named one of the best collegiate broadcast news reporters in the country. Also in 2013, Harper received a College Television Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and was named Best Student Journalist by the Radio, Television, Digital News Directors Association of the Carolinas. In December, Harper broke a story in the New York Daily News about an anti-black, anti-LGBT hate crime in Brooklyn, NY. While at Columbia, she interned at MSNBC as a digital reporter with "Morning Joe."
"I'm so honored to be named NABJ's Student Journalist of the Year. This award is an affirmation of not only my hard work, but the work of many people who have helped me along the way," said Harper. "I credit my mentor and good friend Kirstin Garriss who introduced me to NABJ in my freshman year, my professors at the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill for giving me the tools to hone my craft and my parents for their love and support." Harper is now working as a general assignment reporter at WCTI, an ABC affiliate in Greenville, NC. "Claudia and Averi embody characteristics NABJ wants to see in aspiring journalists," said NABJ Student Representative Khorri Atkinson. "Their outstanding work proves that they have a passion for journalism. They're examples of what every student journalist should be, and they truly deserved to be named NABJ's 2014 Student Journalists’ of the Year.
An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation, and provides educational, career development and support to black journalists worldwide.