Saint Stephen’s Student Wins State & National Journalism Awards
Saint Stephen’s senior, Aiste Zalepuga, was selected by the Florida Scholastic Press Association (FSPA) as the 2012 Florida Journalist of the Year, and by the Journalism Education Association (JEA) as a runner up for national 2012 Journalist of the Year.
Zalepuga’s winning self-analytical essay was based on the theme Never Forget to Dream, a sentiment shared with her by Lithuanian poet and freedom fighter, Justinas Marcinkevicius, during an interview shortly before his death in 2011. Judges at the Orlando FSPA conference had this to say about Zalepuga’s essay, “The essay grabbed our emotions, our hearts and encouraged us to want to read each word…Aiste is more than involved on her campus; she is involved with her heritage, her founders and another country. She has interviewed diplomats (and) policy-makers…all for the sake of her Lithuanian culture.” More comments from the judges can be read here: http://jea.org/2012joy/.
The interview with Marcinkevicius was just one of many that Aiste Zalepugas has conducted in her quest to record Lithuania’s transition from communism to democracy in the voices of those who experienced it. Two of Aiste’s most notable interviews were with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and Archbishop Gintaras Grusas. In fact, the $2,500 she received for winning the two journalism awards will be used towards her next project – compiling all the information she has collected on Lithuania’s democratic transition into a documentary film.
“Aiste has true talent,” said Nadia Watts, Aiste’s journalism adviser at Saint Stephen’s. “She is passionate about her Lithuanian heritage, she works hard to chronicle the social and political transitions there, and she is sharing that story through her writing, and now through film.”
In addition to being an award recipient, Aiste Zalepuga was also a presenter at the FSPA conference. She led a session on View Scholastic Magazine and sat on a panel of the winning journalists. Aiste will graduate from Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School this week. From there she will head to Yale University.