For the third year in a row, a Communication student from Marymount University has been awarded a scholarship from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of Washington, D.C. (SDX/DC)
Melanie Martinez-Lopez, who will be a senior at Marymount this fall, received a $5,000 scholarship for the upcoming academic year – one of only four scholarships competitively awarded to students from D.C.-area colleges and universities by the Foundation. The total financial aid of $21,500 to all four student recipients is funded by donations from members of Washington’s SPJ professional chapter, support from the Gridiron Club and Foundation and individual gifts from journalism education advocates.
“When I received the news, it was very exciting as I was not expecting it at all,” Martinez-Lopez said. “I just feel very blessed and honored to be given this opportunity.”
“We are so proud of Melanie and grateful to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation for its support of our students! We really appreciate the opportunity they provide, and share their goals of educating and inspiring future journalists who will uphold the highest standards of practice,” added Dr. Kimberly Meltzer, Associate Professor of Communication at Marymount University and Director of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “Melanie has made many important contributions to Marymount through her leadership of our chapter of the National Communication Honor Society, as well as her academic and journalism work. I am excited for her to continue on her path as a professional sports journalist.”
Martinez-Lopez has garnered extensive academic honors during her tenure at Marymount. An honors scholar, she holds a 3.9 GPA and has made the Dean’s List for the past three years. She anticipates graduating in December 2022 with her Communication major and a minor in Criminal Justice.
In addition to writing for The Banner, Marymount’s student-run news outlet, she’s served as a sports assistant at the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star – writing byline articles and putting together the sports agate, summarizing various local competitions.
“I chose to be a journalist from a very young age because I loved to tell stories and to write. What made me realize that I wanted to study journalism in particular is when I was watching a Spanish news program, Primer Impacto, and I told my mom that I wanted to be just like the news anchors on the show,” Martinez-Lopez said. “My biggest career goal is to ultimately become a sports anchor on a Spanish-speaking sports channel. At the same time, I want to gain as much experience as I can working as a news reporter, because while I am passionate about sports, it is important for me to be well-rounded and know what is happening everywhere in the world as well.”
Based on their applications, scholarship finalists were interviewed by a panel of veteran journalists and questioned about their aspirations, journalism ethics, the First Amendment and related topics. Amy Fickling, President of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of Washington, D.C., said that as the news industry changes, there is still a need for journalists “well-trained in the fundamentals who have not lost sight of our central role in a democracy.”
“These young journalists have demonstrated a commitment to informing their readers and viewers more fully about the world around them,” Fickling said. “They are driven by their desire to make a positive difference in society. We look forward to the contributions they will make in their future endeavors.”
The Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of Washington, D.C., was organized in 1962, and since then has awarded more than 200 scholarships to aspiring journalists who attend higher education institutions in the national capital region.