Alumni Award Announcements

The Department of Communication and its 13-member Advisory Board are pleased to announce the 2017 recipients of the department's two alumni awards.

Teryl Franklin, a 1990 graduate, received the Distinguished Alumni Award. She has had a long career at the Wisconsin State Journal, where she now is the senior editor for audience development. Franklin is an award-winning journalist who embodies the future of the industry, leading a digital team that focuses on interactive news as well as social media and website management. "We are excited to honor an alumna whose career started at the SLU campus newspaper, the UNews. Teryl's advancement through several reporting and editing positions demonstrates her excellence as a newspaper journalist, as well as her ability to adapt to the changing nature of the news profession," said Dr. April Trees, the department chair. "Through her 25-plus years as a journalist, Teryl repeatedly has been recognized with awards that highlight the public service of her professional life." The Distinguished Alumni Award honors an individual age 36 or older who has made exemplary contributions to his/her profession and who has shown a commitment to community service that reflects the Jesuit tradition.

Julia Cain, a 2012 graduate, received the Young Alumni Award. She is a marketing coordinator for Varsity Tutors, a freelance writer and an award-winning blogger. Cain started the blog while at SLU, and she has leveraged it to gain an international following and press coverage of her lifestyle brand. She also is a frequent guest speaker in SLU Communication classes. "Julia came to SLU as a transfer student but made her mark here in two short years. She was the first fashion editor of the UNews, and now she regularly returns to share her professional expertise with our students in the classroom and as a mentor," Trees said. The Young Alumni Award recognizes an individual age 35 or younger who has achieved significant professional accomplishments and honors the Jesuit spirit of serving others.

"We are thrilled to have Teryl and Julia join our previous award winners," Trees said. "They are both testaments to the necessity of adaptability in communication professions, as our public sphere goes global through online tools."

The alumni awards will be presented at the department's awards ceremony honoring graduates on May 18.

Distinguished Alumni Award 2017: Teryl Franklin
Teryl Franklin graduated from SLU in 1990 with bachelor's degrees in communication and English. She recently celebrated her 20th year at the Wisconsin State Journal, one of the largest newspapers in the state. The newspaper has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist during her time there, and Franklin has won numerous reporting awards from journalism organizations including the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, the Milwaukee Press Club and the Inland Press Association. Today she is the senior editor for audience development at the Wisconsin State Journal-a job that didn't exist when she entered the profession. Her dedication to creating content across multiple platforms and connecting with all kinds of audiences exemplifies the public service aspect of a profession that is in a continual state of change.

During her senior year at SLU, Franklin was the editor of the student newspaper, the UNews. That year, the paper earned the top award from the Missouri Collegiate Newspaper Association. Professor Emeritus Avis Meyer, who nominated Franklin for the award, was the advisor to the campus newspaper and Franklin's instructor for several classes. He recalled: "My tattered grade books reveal that she never missed a class or had a late assignment, despite her chockablock schedule. ... She is as fine a professional journalist as SLU, the UNews, and I have ever had a hand in helping to fashion."

Young Alumni Award 2017: Julia Cain
Julia Cain graduated from SLU in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in communication. By day, she's a full-time marketing coordinator for Varsity Tutors, a live-learning platform based in St. Louis that offers students personalized instruction. Cain is better known locally as the creator of OhJuliaAnn, a lifestyle blog that focuses on fashion and beauty-mixed with some DIY and wedding tips, and the chronicle of her (fortunately) brief bout with thyroid cancer. Her site has been consistently recognized with "best blog" awards and she was recently selected to be part of the Express X Karlie Kloss runway show at The Pageant in St. Louis. Cain has been featured in InStyle and Town & Country magazines, as well as The Today Show, Good Morning America, Buzzfeed, PopSugar, and the Huffington Post.

Department Advisory Board member Amanda Honigfort, who was one of two people to nominate Cain for the award, praised Cain's work ethic: "Julia has achieved national recognition as a fashion blogger purely through hard work and determination. ... She is a leader in working with enthusiasm, heart, and the ethics that SLU instills in us."

Cain is a regular volunteer for the Department of Communication, speaking to classes and summer camps about her success as a writer, marketer and content creator. In fall 2016, she offered inspiration for a class whose students created their own blogs. During her time at SLU, Cain was the fashion editor of the student newspaper and a fixture in Xavier Hall as a student supervisor at the Communication Media Center.

About the alumni awards
The awards recognize outstanding graduates who were majors, minors or graduate students in our program. Qualifications for each award are as follows:

Distinguished Alumni Award

  • SLU graduate whose major or minor was Communication, or received a master's degree from the department
  • Individual who has made exemplary contributions to his/her profession and who has shown a commitment to community service that reflects the Jesuit tradition
  • Age 36 or older

Young Alumni Award

  • SLU graduate whose major or minor was Communication, or received a master's degree from the department
  • Age 35 or younger
  • Individual who has achieved significant professional accomplishments and honors the Jesuit spirit of serving others

The department's Advisory Board, along with faculty, selects the award winners. Current board members and faculty are not eligible for the awards. Nominations are due in April each year for consideration for the May awards ceremony. Nominations are welcome from the public, as are self-nominations.

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