Post by Elizabeth Weeden
Gracie Allen was a famous radio and television star in the ‘30s and ‘40s. She and her husband George Burns made one of the most successful comedy teams in history. Before Lucille Ball, Betty White or Oprah Winfrey, Gracie, as she was called, became a role model for women in media and entertainment.
Gracie Allen was such a model for women that eventually an award was named after her. Each year the Alliance for Women in the Media (AWM) present Gracie Awards to celebrate and honor programming “created for women, by women and about women.” This past year I was lucky enough to receive a Gracie Award for a story I aired about She’s the First.
In their first semester on campus, I got a chance to sit in on a meeting for Hofstra University’s chapter of She’s The First. I had planned to just report on the new club for Hofstra’s radio station, WRHU-FM. I interviewed the club president at the time Gennifer Delman and I also got in touch with Tammy Tibbets for more of a general STF back-story. The more I learned about She’s the First the more excited I became about writing my story and joining the great organization.
I was airing the feature on She’s the First for Radio Hofstra University’s soft news show called “Studio South.” I simply wanted to spread the word about an organization I believed deserved acknowledgement both on Hofstra’s campus and in the immediate area. While I knew She’s the First was a great organization, nowhere in my imagination did I think I would be recognized for the story I wrote about it. The feature was just a piece I could have fun with because I felt passionate about the organization and the people who brought it to Hofstra.
Three months later I received an email from one of the deans of the communication school at Hofstra who works on the “Studio South” show with me. She said that she had submitted my story on STF to the Gracie Awards. The Gracie Awards recognize national, local, and student media; given the broad audience, I considered the nomination itself an honor.
Then, one week before I was to leave for my semester study abroad, an email popped up in my inbox with the subject line reading, “YOU WON!!” in all caps. I told myself it was spam so that I wouldn’t get any false hopes, but as my eyes scanned the screen I saw that the email wasn’t spam, it was from my dean. I had actually won a national Gracie Award for students! The story on She’s the First won a Gracie in the Outstanding Soft News Feature category. Apparently the Alliance for Women in the Media was just as impressed by She’s the First’s mission as I was.
This past week I received my award in the mail—I couldn’t attend the gala because I was in Europe—and it’s just as beautiful as the organization behind the story that led to the award. After learning from She’s the First’s great social media initiatives, the first thing I did was tweet a picture of the award. It reads, “2011 Gracie Awards, Soft News Feature, She’s the First.”
When I think about STF’s mission and everything it has done for girls’ education, I can’t help but think that She’s the First is giving girls all over the world the opportunity to go to school, to follow their passions, and maybe someday end up with an award of their own. Thank you, She’s the First. Give yourselves a round of applause, because you all deserve it.