Journalism students take home regional awards

Students recognized for exceptional skills

6/28/2021 9:17:55 AM

ST. JOHN’S, NL – The Atlantic Journalism Awards (AJAs) recognize the best of journalism in Atlantic Canada. This year, two of College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) journalism program students are proud to be taking home some hardware and standing among the best of their peers.
Marykate O'Neill of St. John's and Dylan of Parker's Cove on the Burin Peninsula, two of College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) journalism program students, are proud to be taking home some hardware from the Atlantic Journalism Awards.

Marykate O’Neill was thrilled to learn she had won the Marine Atlantic Journalism Scholarship.

“Finding out I won was the most exciting feeling and I don’t think I will ever forget about it,” she said. “I ran into my kitchen and said, ‘Me, Marykate, me, I won it!’ I was in shock for a few hours at least.” 

O’Neill appreciates the recognition as her award also comes with a $1,200 scholarship, which she will put to good use towards paying for her diploma.

“To me, this is an absolute honour to say the very least,” she said. “This award shines on journalism excellence and it’s still hard to believe that I fit into that category.”

O’Neill, who is set to graduate from the Journalism Program in 2022, came to CNA after realizing she had a passion for the written word.

“I came into journalism on a limb and didn’t know if it would fulfil my dream, but it is everything I could have ever dreamt for and more,” she said. “I believe I truly found my passion in journalism.”

Born and raised in St. John’s, NL, O’Neill said it’s the storytelling facet of journalism that appeals to her the most. It was her heartwarming feature story on a seniors’ home in Witless Bay that secured her award.

“The stories you tell and the people you meet along this incredible journey is the most fulfilling aspect to me,” she said.

Another big winner in the Journalism Program is Dylan Murphy of Parker’s Cove on the Burin Peninsula. He was awarded the Geoff Stirling Memorial Award, which comes with a $1,000 prize and a two-week internship with Stirling Communications.

“I'm extremely grateful that my instructors and the judges at the AJAs felt that I'd be a worthy recipient of the award,” said Murphy. “It hasn't been an easy road to get to where I am now in my life, so things like this are a great reinforcement to the idea that I did make the right choice to take my life in this direction.”

Murphy, who is set to graduate in 2022, says he was happy to learn that all  his hard work had paid off.

“I felt extremely grateful and honoured when I found out, and for that whole day I was on cloud nine, absolutely nothing could have ruined that day,” he said.

Murphy credits his recent success to his journalism instructors.

“All of our instructors in the journalism program bring a wealth of knowledge, both theoretical and practical, and experience to their teaching,” he said.

Promising futures
Brenda Tobin, Dean of the School of Academics, Applied Arts & Tourism, says hearing the news of CNA journalism students winning scholarships at the AJAs affirms how vital this program is to the industry.

“We see students from our school being recognized time and time again on a local, national and international stage. This recent announcement adds to the pride we feel when our students work hard to produce high quality outcomes. Journalists are such an invaluable part of our daily lives as we hear the stories of people and events unfolding around the world. Knowing that our students are contributing to top-notch journalism practices and being recognized for their excellence makes us all feel so proud of them. Congratulations to Marykate and Dylan on being honoured for your outstanding work!”

Frank Carroll, Journalism instructor at CNA’s Prince Philip Drive campus, says all three instructors in the program agreed that both students went above and beyond and felt they should be recognized.

“Both winners are dedicated to journalism and well-deserving of the awards,” he said.

Carroll said that that these awards are just the beginning for these two exceptional students.

“Dylan and Marykate both have promising careers ahead of them because they have a passion for journalism,” he said. “Both take advice well and strive to improve their performances every time out, those kinds of qualities will help them succeed.”

Carroll had some words of wisdom for those who are thinking about a career in journalism.

“One piece of advice I’d give to anyone is that your education doesn’t stop at graduation. Some principles in journalism never change, but other aspects are constantly changing, and journalists have to be able to adapt,” he said. “That means a commitment to lifelong learning.”

For more information about the Journalism program, visit

Media contact:

Ryanne McIsaac
Content Specialist
College of the North Atlantic