Yacob Reyes Wins SPJ Florida College Scholarship
The SPJ Florida Scholarship Committee is proud to announce that Yacob Reyes of the University of South Florida will be receiving its 2021 college scholarship, a prize of $2,500 to be used toward the Fall 2021 semester.
As an enterprising journalist, Reyes has showcased his ability to tackle tough topics, such as telling the story of a student who is undocumented, as well as adding his own spin to human interest stories, such as the prevalence of chickens trotting through Ybor City.
“I have written about brain surgeries, heart transplants, rape victims and undocumented immigrants,” he shared in his application. “I have spent days navigating through the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in pursuit of public records. I have tucked my trembling hands into my pockets and asked people to relive the most painful moments of their lives. Through it all, I’ve seen firsthand the impact journalism can have on the communities it covers.”
“In each of my articles, I’ve strived to showcase the perseverance and versatile nature of the human spirit, which I’ve witnessed in my parents,” he continued. “Since I was young, I’ve dreamt of bringing about the shared experiences of Latinx culture to the newsroom and bringing to light the stories of those respective communities.”
Hailing from Tampa, Reyes is a first-generation college student on track to graduate in 2023. He graduated from Vivian Gaither High School in May 2019 and stared his journey through higher education at Hillsborough Community College. During this time, he served as the editor in chief of The Hawkeye and interned at Tampa Magazine. Reyes is transferring to the University of South Florida this fall, and he is the news desk apprentice for Axios.
“There were a host of strong entries. There was something special, however, about Yacob’s essay and experience. I was blown away by the diversity in his coverage, the passion in his writing, and the clear dedication to uncovering stories in his community,” said Giuseppe Sabella, a member of the scholarship committee and SPJ Florida Board of Directors. “In his application, Yacob referred to himself as an ‘outsider’ in the journalism world; someone without the resources to easily secure a seat at the table. But you are no outsider, Yacob. You are the bright future this industry needs.”
The scholarship program at SPJ Florida maintains the chapter’s mission to assist student journalist as they juggle school, internships and jobs. Past scholarship winners come from across the state and have gone on to The Washington Post, Diario Las Américas, “The Drew Barrymore Show,” University of Florida College of Medicine, the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, and other institutions.
“So many students have the chops for journalism, but not the money it takes to accept unpaid internships. We want students to be able to focus on their studies and honing their skills, not paying their rent,” said Christiana Lilly, immediate past president and the chair of the scholarship committee. “We’re proud to have Yacob be a part of our list of deserving journalists who have received our scholarship.”