April 13, 2006 at 8:20 AM CDT - Updated July 2 at 11:49 PM
Student & Teacher Take Top Writing Honors By: Wes Wallace
Cape Girardeau, MO - It involves a trip to Las Vegas, a few days off from school, and picking up a national award for excellence. That's exactly what a Southeast Missouri State University student and professor will be doing in a few weeks.
"I just put it in there, I thought maybe I might place or get an honorable mention or something," explains Jennifer Hotop, a senior majoring Mass Communication, "To win first place, was definitely a surprise."
Hotop won for her feature length script, 116 pages in length, about a dark comedy. It took her several months to finish her work. "I wrote it for a class assignment, and drew it out over the length of a semester," says Hotop, "Then I kind of put it away for awhile, did some revisions, but the whole plot was basically the same."
As Hotop developed her national prize winning piece in the student division, Professor Fred Jones was doing the same in the faculty competition.
"My stories follow the same plot line," says Jones, "They're all dramas based on the area in Southeast Missouri. I grew up here."
This isn't the first national title for the assistant professor in the Department of Communication. Jones won once before the Best of Festival honor, and placed in the top three several other times too.
"It's always fulfilling to get recognized for your work, especially when you think it's terrible," Jones adds, "To have someone else recognize it as quality work, it's very rewarding."
While Southeast isn't necessarily known for writing, Jones and Hotop agree things could change, thanks to their recent accomplishments.
"This is the most prestigious student festival in the country," says Jones, "For Southeast to have a student win this competition...well it's just outstanding. I'm sure it'll attract more students to our program."
The Jackson natives will receive their Broadcast Education Association awards later this month at a national conference.