2021 Award Winners


  • Outstanding Graduating Senior in Journalism, Jane Horovitz
  • Outstanding Graduating Senior in Media Studies, Rachael Hall
  • The Raymie McKerrow Award: Distinguished Undergraduate Student in Communication & Journalism, Hana Davis
  • Wofford Gardner Award: Outstanding Academic Achievement in Communication, Kate Follansbee
  • Brooks Hamilton: Spirit of Excellence Award and Outstanding Senior in CMJ, Bhavana Scalia-Bruce and Leela Stockley


  • Outstanding MA Student, Mackenzie Peacock
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Excellence in Research and Creative Activity, Kevin Duffy
  • Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant, Michael Clay

Please see below for congratulatory notes for our award winners. You can also see a list of past awardees here: undergraduate and graduate.


This year’s Outstanding Graduating Senior in Journalism is Jane Horovitz. Jane is originally from Washington, Maine and is an English and Journalism double-major with an outstanding record of academic achievement at the University of Maine. The department recognizes Jane’s stellar classroom performance and her dedication to journalism with the 2021 Outstanding Graduating Senior Award in Journalism.  Jane served as the Head Copy Editor of The Maine Campus and worked as a student writer/intern for the University of Maine EPSCoR Program. Over her years on campus she became an editor of uncommon and impressive skill for an undergraduate. In 2021, she was awarded a Maine Association of Broadcasters scholarship in recognition of her scholarly record and interest in pursuing a career in journalism in Maine. The department looks forward to following Jane’s career development after graduation.

This year’s Outstanding Graduating Senior in Media Studies is Rachael Hall. There are some students who just brighten up any classroom. Rachael is definitely one of those students. Rachael majored in media studies with a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. As one of the top students in the media studies program, Rachael is the kind of student that every faculty member dreams of — she comes to class prepared with insightful questions, shows a true interest in the topic at hand, and has an uncanny ability to connect theory with practice. Rachael has impressed the faculty she’s worked with with her genuine curiosity for learning, her tireless work ethic, and strong academic performance; she has that rare balance of both being goal-oriented and intrinsically curious/driven. What makes Rachael’s achievement even more impressive is that she held a job as a certified medical assistant at Cancer Care of Maine. This ability to balance the demands of work with the rigors of an undergraduate degree while maintaining the upbeat, sunny disposition for which we have all come to know Rachael has made her a true asset to the program. We will definitely miss Rachael but we also know that she will succeed whatever she chooses to pursue!

This year, we are pleased to recognize Hana Davis for the Raymie McKerrow Award: Distinguished Undergraduate Student in Communication & Journalism. Hana is the most deserving recipient of this award, which is presented to the Communication Senior who demonstrates outstanding citizenship on and/or off campus as well as academic excellence. Hana is from Tsawwassen, British Columbia and is a graduating senior with a double major in Communication and Marketing. She was also recognized as the 2021 Outstanding International Student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She is graduating with one of the highest GPAs in the department, in addition to being a captain of the field hockey team and a four-time NFHCA National Academic Squad honoree. Hana is applying what she has learned in CMJ classes to making an impact as an athlete-activist who focuses on racial justice and mental health, making sure, as she says, that “students’ voices are heard.” Davis served as Spread Respect chair on the UMaine Student Athlete Advisory Committee and represented the university on the America East Conference Student-Athlete of Color Leadership Group. She also is a Mind Spa volunteer. Next year, Hana will work toward her MBA at UMaine while fulfilling her last year of eligibility on the field hockey team.

We are proud to announce Kate Follansbee as the recipient of the Wofford Gardner Award: Outstanding Academic Achievement in Communication. This award is given to a graduating student majoring in Communication Studies, whose academic work has shown consistent excellence and scholarly promise. Kate was born in Scarborough, Maine and was an Honors student who double majored in Communication and Economics. Always astute and focused, she was highly involved in class and beyond. Not only did she study abroad in Mannheim, Germany, but she was also a consultant and tutor coordinator for the Writing Center, an Honors College Ambassador, and a Research Assistant on three different projects in Economics. In addition to maintaining a near perfect GPA, she received Highest Honors for her Honors thesis.  She was also accepted into the Master’s program in Economics at the University of Maine with a focus on sustainability. She added greatly to everything she participated in strived to perform to her best.

The Brooks Hamilton Award recognizes the graduating senior in Journalism who demonstrates an enthusiastic dedication to the practice of journalism during their undergraduate career at the University of Maine. This year, the department jointly recognizes Bhavna Scalia-Bruce and Leela Stockley for their commitment to The Maine Campus and their demonstrated zeal for journalism over the course of their undergraduate careers.

Originally from Portland, Maine, Bhavana double-majored in Spanish and Journalism at the University of Maine.  She began as a news reporter at the Maine Campus as a first-year student, and worked her way up to Business Manager in 2020-2021.  She completed an Editorial Internship at Down East magazine, and in the summer of 2021 she Bhavna will begin working as a Media Assistant for the University of Maine’s EPSCoR program.  In recognition of her commitment to journalism, Bhavna was awarded both a Maine Press Association and Maine Association of Broadcasters scholarship in 2021.

Leela, who came to the University of Maine from Chester, Maine, and is a double major in Anthropology and Journalism.  Leela served in a variety of roles at The Maine Campus during her career, culminating in her tenure as Editor in Chief in 2020-2021.   She was also a McGillicuddy Humanities Center Fellow, and her research project – titled, “The Double Standard: Protest Coverage and Racial Bias” – closely and critically analyzed issues of representation and framing in U.S. news coverage of protests.  It built upon her capstone research in the Journalism major, and demonstrated her complex and incisive approach to thinking about contemporary issues in journalism.  In 2021, Leela accepted a Digital Editor position at the Bangor Daily News, and the faculty are excited to watch her growth and development as her professional career moves forward.


Mackenzie Peacock, this year’s Outstanding MA Student, just earned her MA in Communication, having received her B.A. from our Department in 2019. The transition from undergraduate to graduate student is a big one, and it would be easy to focus on how much growth Mackenzie has experienced during that time, as she has shown tremendous growth as a student and professional. But more importantly that growth was made possible by some innate qualities that make Mackenzie a joy to work with: her deep intelligence, strong sense of curiosity, and her boundless positive energy. All of these qualities and more have shaped her research and teaching in our department and have also been important sources of strength during one of the most challenging times in recent history. Mackenzie’s research is helping to create new knowledge about climate change communication by focusing on Greta Thunberg as an influential environmental activist. The work that she demonstrates in her thesis, as well as in her teaching and in being an active participant in all of her classes over the last two years point to why Mackenzie received the Outstanding Graduate Student award in our department this year. Congratulations Mackenzie!

We are proud to recognize Kevin Duffy, PhD candidate in CMJ, for Outstanding Grad Student Excellence in Research and Creative Activity. Over the past several years, we’ve watched Kevin’s interests blossom, from his initial foray into the interdisciplinary dimensions of sustainable aquaculture through SEANET, to his creative, non-traditional approach to studying socioecological change within two coastal Maine communities. Faithful application of this research approach requires intensive relationship-building, and over the last several years, we have witnessed Kevin’s heroic efforts to connect with people in the communities surrounding the Bagaduce and Damariscotta Rivers. His independence, perseverance, maturity, and flexibility throughout this process have been admirable, especially as he adjusted his research process to account for the changes wrought by a global pandemic. These attributes have also allowed him to bridge the academic and practitioner realms in his research; he is the consummate “pracademic” who thinks broadly and theoretically, while also accounting for the concrete, on-the-ground applications. Throughout his time at UMaine, Kevin has been eager to share his expertise to support the growth and development of other students and he does so in ways that are humble and genuinely supportive. He has offered countless informal “workshops” to students in CMJ and across campus interested in  Q method or media content analysis. He has received accolades in the classroom, where he has taught public speaking and visual communication. More recently, he has applied his technical prowess to producing a marketing video for the CMJ graduate program, and helping us streamline and update the CMJ website. Over the last several years, we have witnessed Kevin grow into a full collaborator and colleague and we deeply value his many research, teaching, and service contributions. Congratulations, Kevin!

Note from Dr. Lily Herakova, Teaching Coordinator: It is especially difficult to recognize only one (or two) person(s) with this award in the year 2021. All CMJ TAs have done a remarkable job in supporting students and each other through thick and thin — from welcoming a new cohort to ending yet another semester during an ongoing pandemic. All CMJ TAs have embodied compassion, care, and superb capability to show students and the world why communication knowledge matters and how it can and needs to be a part of our collective response to COVID-19 and associated hardships. I am truly humbled, inspired, and grateful to know you, to have worked with you, to be your fellow traveler in learning!

With this year’s Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant award, we recognize Michael Clay and his work as both an educator and an CMJ advisor. Michael is a versatile and well-versed educator who makes a real difference in students’ lives and guides learners in becoming engaged, thoughtful, and caring community members. His teaching is creative, reflexive, and committed to fostering communication knowledge as a capacity toward more just presence in the world. Faculty and fellow graduate students both commend Michael’s ability to engage students, demonstrating that communication knowledge and behaviors are relational, consequential, and always imbued with ethical decision-making. Both his skills and reflexive approach to teaching have been invaluable in the challenging 2020-2021 academic year, rife with pandemic and political uncertainty. Getting ahead of Fall 2020, Michael trained on BrightSpace in the summer and focused on increasing accessibility through tutorial videos for students and annotated lectures for CMJ 347 and CMJ 201. He scheduled and kept regular “well checks” for students and adjusted workload and topical foci as needed. He crafted lesson plans around indigenous rights and collaborated with other instructors on envisioning cross-curricular sustained attention to indigenous ways of knowing. To say that Michael put 150% into his teaching work will be an understatement – it is a hallmark of a knowledgeable and attentive educator to be present in the current moment and adapt to context, while maintaining focus on disciplinary-appropriate learning.