UK Student Ranks 4th Among National Collegiate Sports Journalists

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 4, 2021) — Kentucky Kernel Editor-in-Chief Natalie Parks, a University of Kentucky English major, placed fourth in the Hearst Sports Writing Competition of the 2020-2021 Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program. In addition to being recognized among top journalists in the nation, Parks has received a $1,000 scholarship.

In a story titled "Breaking down the UK cheerleading hazing investigation,” Parks investigated the 2020 UK cheerleading probe that resulted in termination of the cheerleading coaches. Her story discussed UK’s decision to turn management of the cheerleading program over to the UK Athletics Department and analyzed the reports in question.

Although honored to win a Hearst Award, Parks says that she wants Kernelites’ work to be appreciated by the community. “Awards are announced once or twice a year, but we put in the work day in and day out,” Parks said. “I would much rather know that the Kernel makes a difference to our community than I would win any award.”

Ryan Craig, student media advisor for the Kentucky Kernel and KRNL Lifestyle + Fashion, said that Parks’ work is a “classic example of Natalie taking a breaking news story that was about sports and making it understandable to anyone who read it. She showed a lot of skill in her fact gathering to be able to write on such a complicated matter in such a short period of time. Both the readers of the Kernel and the UK community should be proud of the work she does.” 

Parks also congratulates fellow Kernelites Arden Barnes and Bailey Vandiver, who both won Hearst Awards in February.

The Hearst Journalism Awards Program was founded as a way to support and assist journalism education at the collegiate level. The program awards scholarships to students with outstanding performance in divisions including writing, photojournalism, audio, television, and multimedia competitions. To enter any competition hosted by the Hearst Awards, students must be involved in campus media and must have published articles, photographs or newscasts that can be submitted.

The School of Journalism and Media is part of the University of Kentucky’s College of Communication and Information. The Department of English is in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky. The Kentucky Kernel and Student Media are also housed in the College of Communication and Information.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.