June 6, 2017

Darla Dunning Wins Jim Murray Memorial Foundation Sports Writing Contest

Darla Dunning
VALDOSTA — Darla Dunning won first place in Valdosta State University’s 2017 Jim Murray Sports Writing Contest. She will now go on to compete against top collegiate journalists from across the country for a chance to win one of five $5,000 national scholarships.
“This is a great honor,” said the 21-year-old from Valdosta. “I admire Jim Murray’s work in the journalism field and I hope to one day be as good as him.”
The Jim Murray Sports Writing Contest is funded by the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, which was established in 1999 by Linda McCoy-Murray to perpetuate the legacy of Los Angeles Times Pulitzer Prize-winning sports columnist Jim Murray through a national essay competition for collegiate journalism students. The applicants are required to write a story in Murray’s style, which is remembered for its humor, hyperbole, and one-liners.
Dunning’s winning article focuses on Malcolm Mitchell, a Valdosta High School graduate who went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from the University of Georgia and now plays wide receiver for the New England Patriots.
Mitchell found success on the football field as a student at the University of Georgia, but faced difficulties in the classroom due to his below average reading level. After sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament during his junior year, he started spending time at a local bookstore and discovered a passion for reading. He published his first children’s book, “The Magician’s Hat,” in 2015 and started Read with Malcolm, a nonprofit foundation that inspires children to read.
“He is a role model to youth and an inspiration to the city of Valdosta,” Dunning said.
Dunning serves as managing editor for On Tap, VSU’s general interest magazine, and news editor of The Spectator, VSU’s independent student newspaper. She is president of Sigma Alpha Chi, the oldest honor society at VSU, and a member of the Alpha Alpha Epsilon chapter of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society. She previously served as assistant opinions editor for The Spectator.
A regular on the Dean’s List, Dunning is the recipient of the 2016-2017 Georgia Press Educational Foundation Scholarship. She earned a certificate in Multimedia Basics from the Poynter Institute.
Dunning serves as an intern for the City of Valdosta’s Public Information Office and plans to work as a tutor in VSU’s Student Success Center in Fall 2017.
Dunning expects to graduate in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in journalism. She would like to earn a Master of Arts in print journalism. She is the daughter of Paul and Laura Dunning.
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