VPW Foundation awards 2013 scholarships

Two Virginia university students have been selected as recipients of the Virginia Press Women Foundation’s annual Agnes Cooke Scholarship awards.

Cameron Austin, a junior at Virginia Tech, and Heather Butterworth, a senior at James Madison University, were honored at VPW’s fall conference at the Westwood Club in Richmond on Sat., Sept. 21.

The scholarships are named after a charter member of VPW who served as president from 1964 to 1966, and are awarded to deserving Virginia college students who are interested in pursuing a career in communications. This year they each received a $550 check and membership in VPW.

Austin is studying communication and sociology with a minor in women and gender studies. When she submitted her application, Austin, who dressed up as Katie Couric for career day in second grade, was the lead anchor for Virginia Tech Television and news blog editor of the Collegiate Times, which is the student run newspaper on a campus of over 30,000 students.

She also was a social media consultant for Crouch Realty last year. Her objective is to obtain an entry-level internship or job in media, public relations, social media, nonprofit activism or any other communications field.

“Coming from a single-parent household, I was always taught the value of a dollar, and that hard work and perseverance will get you everywhere in life. I have worked hard in, and out, of the classroom to make sure I succeed in my chosen career path. Receiving this scholarship has helped to lessen the burden which the rising price of college has left on my family, and for that, I’m extremely grateful,” Austin said.

Butterworth is a senior media arts and design major. When she applied for the scholarship, she was a marketing specialist for JMU’s University Recreation, where she has created fliers, TV ads, videos and posters for marketing purposes at events and job fairs. She also was managing editor of the JMU edition of hercampus.com, which averages 4,300 unique visitors per week; online editor for the campus newspaper, The Breeze; co-executive editor of Madison 101, an online and print magazine; and copy editor and writer for the campus yearbook, The Bluestone.

She also did an internship at WDBJ-TV7 in Roanoke last year. Her goal, according to an interview in hercampus.com, is: “A real dream job would be working with a magazine that promotes social change. More realistically though, I would love to eventually work as a web producer, social media coordinator, online editor or something similar.” Butterworth said that receiving the scholarship was deeply meaningful for her.

“It is truly an honor to receive it and it will definitely alleviate some of the stress that comes with paying for college. I am grateful for this gift and can only hope to live up to the example that Agnes Cooke set. Both the scholarship and the Virginia Professional Communicators membership will go a long way in helping me with my career, and I am deeply thankful to everyone involved,” she said.

Virginia Professional Communicators is a diverse organization of professional communicators in Virginia that is open to women and men. Members work for newspapers, magazines, radio, television stations, schools, colleges, government, corporations, nonprofit agencies, communications businesses, and a variety of organizations and associations.

The organization was founded in 1958 and is affiliated with the National Federation of Press Women. VPW created the foundation that now administers the scholarships in 1992.