Mary Williams

UC student Mary Williams at work behind the camera at the PBS Student Reporting Lab.

A University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) student was selected as “Student Journalist of the Year” at the Nationals Educational Telecommunications Association ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Mary Williams, a second-year electronic media major with a minor in communications, won the award for her video reporting and mentoring contributions over the previous year to the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL) Jan. 28.

SRL is a nationwide, high school based, broadcast journalism program created to help students make news stories for the network’s evening news broadcast — PBS NewsHour — that connects to their lives and the backgrounds of other students. Members are mentored by volunteer teachers, graduates and PBS professionals at 150 schools nationwide.

In 2015, Williams started at Hughes STEM High School, part of Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS).

“I got introduced to the PBS NewsHour in my ninth grade year of high school and I’ve been in love ever since,” Williams said. “My first video was about youth in poverty, being about to speak for my community and reaching out to Mayor Cranley really sparked my love for media and storytelling.”

When an opportunity arose, Williams volunteered to learn everything she could about multimedia to master the skills of producing and directing news or feature video stories. Her work on PBS NewsHour involves stories on the Hopewell Earthworks, George Washington’s house and 3D-printed prosthetics at UC.

Her most recognized project is a video — “How a 3D-printed hand gave this girl the gift of play” —  that tells the story of a young girl who was provided prosthetic hands by EnableUC, a program in UC’s engineering department that supplies children with prosthetic devices.

This was Williams’ first story she directed, filmed, produced and narrated solo. The video was showcased at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences council meeting in 2019.

“It felt amazing to win the award. It made me feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself and that the things I do and say have an impact on the world around me,” Williams said. “I didn’t expect to receive that award since I’m not in the PBS NewsHour anymore so to know my videos are still being played and thought of amazes me.”

This is also not the first time Williams has been recognized by PBS. In 2018, she was appointed a PBS Gwen Ifill Fellow, an esteemed fellowship founded to honor journalist Ifill — an African American PBS Newshour co-anchor, managing editor, pioneer and mentor to new journalists.

The fellowship provided her first opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. where she got to meet young journalists like her.

Williams plans to be a part of the PBS Student reporting labs as a youth media producer, she said. She wants to work with students to create content at their school just like the producers she had the opportunity to work so closely with.