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Congratulations 2019 Last Row Party Scholarship Award Winners



The Indianapolis Press Club Foundation received 42 entries for these scholarship awards, which are sponsored by Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Each winner received a $1,000 scholarship check and award certificate at our Last Row Party on May 23, 2019.

Deadline News -- Hannah Boufford, Indiana University (winner)

                              Maddy McTigue, DePauw University (judge-nominated finalist)


Read Boufford's stories:

Feature Writing -- Erica Irish, Franklin College (winner)

                               Peter Talbot, Indiana University (judge-nominated finalist)



Read Irish's stories:

Sports Reporting -- Jared Ringdon, Indiana Univesity (winner)

                                  Zach Piatt, Ball State University (judge-nominated finalist)



Read Ringdon's stories:

Irish, photo courtesy of Franklin College



Congratulations 2018 Last Row Party Scholarship Award Winners


The Indianapolis Press Club Foundation received 49 entries for these scholarship awards, which are sponsored by Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Each winner received a $1,000 scholarship check and award certificate at our Last Row Party on May 24, 2018.

Deadline News --  Taylor Telford, Indiana University (winner)

                               Adrianna Pitrelli, Franklin College (judge-nominated finalist)


Read Telford's stories:

Feature Writing -- Zoie Richey, Franklin College (winner)

                               Katie Grieze, Ball State University (judge-nominated finalist)



Read Richey's stories:

Sports Reporting -- Jordan Guskey, Indiana Univesity (winner)

                                  Sarah Bahr, IUPUI (judge-nominated finalist)



Read Guskey's stories:

(L-R) Telford, Richey, Guskey

2016 Last Row Party Scholarship Award Winners

The press club foundation received 70 entries for these three scholarship awards -- the highest number of entries since these scholarships began in 2014.

Deadline News -- Megan Jula, Indiana University



Read Jula's stories:




Feature Writing -- Alexandra Kincaid, Ball State University



Read Kincaid's stories:




Sports Reporting -- Brody Miller, Indiana University



Read Miller's Stories:

Alexandra Kincaid, right, receives her Last Row Party Scholarship Feature Writing Award from Foundation Executive Director Jenny Labalme

2017 Last Row Party Scholarship Award Winners

The Indianapolis Press Club Foundation received 60 entries for these scholarship awards, which are sponsored by Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This year, we had two winners in the feature-writing category. Each winner received a scholarship check of $1,000 and certificate at our Last Row Party on May 25, 2017.

Deadline News -- Allie Kirkman, Ball State University (winner)

                              Taylor Telford, Indiana University (judge-nominated finalist)

                               Adrianna Pitrelli, Franklin College (judge-nominated finalist)

Read Kirkman's stories:

Feature Writing -- Sarah Gardner, Indiana University (winner)

                               Alan Hovorka, Ball State University (winner)

                               Liz Meuser, Indiana University (judge-nominated finalist)

                               Sarah Bahr, IUPUI (judge-nominated finalist)


Read Gardner's stories:

Read Hovorka's stories: 

Sports Reporting -- Renee Griffin, University of Notre Dame (winner)

                                  Elizabeth Wyman, Ball State University (judge-nominated finalist)

                                  Michael Williams, IUPUI (judge-nominated finalist)


Read Griffin's stories:

Allie Kirkman

Alan Hovorka

2015 Excellence in Student Journalism Award winners

2015 Last Row Party Scholarship Award Winners

  • Samantha Schmidt, Indiana University -- 1st place

  • Deron Molen, Franklin College -- 2nd place

  • Rachel Podnar, Ball State University -- 3rd place


  • Deadline News Writing -- Jacob Rund, Franklin College

  • Feature Writing -- Samantha Schmidt, Indiana University

  • Sports Writing -- Evan Hoopfer, Indiana University

2014 Excellence in Student Journalism Award Winners

  • Adam Baumgartner, Ball State University -- 1st place

  • Ellie Price, Franklin College -- 2nd place

  • Molly Jirasek, Indiana University -- 3rd place

Ellie Price, Franklin College & Molly Jirasek, Indiana Univ.

2014 Last Row Party Scholarship Award winners

(L-R) Andrew Mishler, Sports Writing (Ball State University); Jessica Contrera, News and Feature Writing (Indiana University); and Chelsea Barras, IMS 2014 Summer Intern (Indiana University).


In partnership with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Foundation awarded cash prizes on May 22, 2014 for news, features and sports writing. The awards -- $1,031, $1,032 and $1,033 -- mirror the checks the last row drivers receive for 31, 32 and 33 cents.


Among the scholarships the IPCF hands out are:

Excellence in Student Journalism Award

This award in 2014 and 2015. It was replaced by a summer fellowship program in 2016, which the foundation board felt provided more hands-on experience for Indiana college students, studying journalism and communications. 


Last Row Party Scholarship Award 

Now in its 46th year, the Last Row Party raises funds to support scholarships for Indiana students interested in careers in journalism or communications. In partnership with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the foundation is awards cash prizes for deadline news, features and sports writing. The awards - $1,031, $1032 and $1,033 - mirror the checks the last row drivers receive for 31, 32 and 33 cents.


More information on these programs can be obtained by emailing the foundation's executive director at jlabalme.indypress@att.net










With help from the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation, the following Indianapolis area high school students attended the High School Journalism Institute at Indiana University during the summer of 2013.


Tajhanae Gillard -- Lawrence Central High School
Brianna Kirk -- Emmerich Manual High School 

Molli Loftus -- Lawrence Central High School
Tiffani-Angel Sheffield -- Emmerich Manual High School



"Without your help I would not be attending at all. Thank you." -- Tajhanae Gillard, scholarship recipient.

"It means a lot to me that I was picked. Thank you for choosing me." -- Milli Loftus, scholarship recipient

"My students and I are elated that they'll be atteding the High School Jounralism Institute in Bloomington this summer. Neither would be going if not for your assistance.... Thank you for caring for our students, and in doing so, for also caring for the future of our profesion."  -- Elizabeth Granger, advisor, Cub Reporter, Lawrence Central High School.


2013 Scholarship Winners

2011-2012 Scholarship Winners

Charlie Scudder, Indiana University, $5,000

Lauren Sedam, Indiana University, $5,000



2010 Scholarship Winners

Hemphill Scholarship

  • Sean Morrison, Indiana University, $2,000


Maurice & Robert Early Scholarship

  • Caitlin Johnston, Indiana University, $2,000

  • Rachel Stark, Indiana University, $2,000


Lennis Scholarship

  • Aisha Townsend, Butler University, $1,000

  • Stephanie Kuzydym, Indiana University, $1,000



The Scholarship Committee was absolutely delighted this year to receive 69 scholarship applications this year, more than we’ve ever had. It was a surprise.


Only nine entries had arrived one day before the deadline. But, in what can only be described as true journalistic fashion, 60 entries arrived on the deadline or in our post office box in the days just following it.


It was an extremely difficult judging process because we had some very talented student journalists who applied and we were sad to pass on so many good entries.


Ultimately, we settled on students who appeared very committed to journalism careers who submitted absolutely outstanding writing samples. We were inspired by these writers.


The Hemphill Scholarship, which was endowed by a family who left funds for this purpose to the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation, went to Sean Morrison, an Indiana University junior. He received $2,000.


The judges were crazy about Sean’s descriptive and interesting stories, which included a compelling portrait of a high-jumper. Sean told us in his essay that he was 7 years old when he discovered journalism and made his career choice.


“Forget being a Power Ranger – I wanted to be a journalist. The whole uniformed-hero thing would’ve been worse pay and longer hours, anyway,” he wrote. “Today, I’m not so sure donning a white jumpsuit and fighting crime is a worse job in terms of hours, pay or even levels of stress and sanity. That hasn’t changed my plans to be a journalist, though.”


We feel confident that we will be seeing great things from Sean.


The judges awarded two Maurice & Robert Early Scholarships, which are $2,000 each and named for former Indianapolis Star journalists.

Our first winner was Caitlin Johnston, an Indiana University senior.


Caitlin is a fantastic writer who has a talent for description and is clearly dedicated to the craft. She spent many nights at a Steak & Shake to write an interesting profile about a waitress there and spent an evening with some teens who were smoking synthetic marijuana for a story in The Journal Gazette about whether the drug should be criminalized.


Caitlin wrote in her essay that she wants “to produce good, honest stories. I want to inform and to inspire. I want to write so that setting down the paper or clicking a different link never crosses the reader’s mind.”


We are confident she is the kind of writer who can achieve that.


Our second Early Scholarship winner was Rachel Stark, another Indiana University senior.


Rachel captured our attention with a fascinating story about graffiti on a bathroom wall. She discovered an ongoing conversation on the wall, one that started with a woman writing about her bulimia and continued with advice from her fellow students. She even tracked down one of the students who wrote on the wall.


Rachel oversees four sections of IU’s Insight magazine and writes as well for the Indiana Daily Student and Running Times magazine. Her letter of recommendation, from IU professor Nancy Comiskey, said that Rachel “demands excellence. She’s a talented reporter and writer who’s going to get even better.”


We believe that.


The judges also chose two winners for the Lennis Scholarship, which is named for another former Indianapolis Star writer.


Each Lennis Scholarship was $1,000 and at least one was designated for a Butler University student. That winner was Aisha Townsend.

Aisha is only a sophomore at Butler but she has already completed two internships that involve writing, even as she has been deeply involved in charity work and several student organizations.


Aisha attended the Emerson School for the Visual and Performing Arts in Gary and two of her clips came from her high school years, when she was writing a guest column for the Gary Post Tribune.


We were impressed with the maturity in that writing even as a high school student and we also liked a story she wrote for the Butler Collegian about the experiences of an African-American studies professor at a majority white university.


Our second Lennis Scholarship winner was Stephanie Kuzydym.


Stephanie is an Indiana University junior who specializes at the Indiana Daily Student in sports but wrote some impressive news stories when she interned for the South Bend Tribune. We liked her story about a man who was left homeless after his house was condemned. It puts the reader right in the middle of the home with vivid descriptions but the newsier parts of the story are handled deftly as well.


We also loved a story about a golfer who hit a hole-in-one in a tournament thanks to a caddy’s advice and gave the caddy the car he won as a result. It was a delightful topic and she captured the spirit of the moment.


Ron Johnson, IU’s director of student media, said that her “work ethic, persistence, speed and attention to detail” makes Stephanie one of the student’s newspaper’s best journalists.


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