RCAH student Emanuele Berry awarded 2012 Featherstone Prize

Emanuele Berry has always had a strong sense of curiosity: once as a child, she experimented with a hanger and electrical outlet. This kind of curiosity drove her to study journalism and the humanities at MSU and was one of many reasons that Berry was awarded the 2012 Richard Lee Featherstone Prize.

Each year, the Featherstone Prize seeks to identify the most outstanding graduating senior and is awarded to an MSU student who demonstrates intellectual curiosity as well as a commitment to life-long learning and civic engagement. This year, the Featherstone will be split between Berry and another student.

Berry, a double major in Journalism and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH), was encouraged to apply for the award by School of Journalism professor Geri Zeldes, and RCAH professors Eric Aronoff and Austin Jackson provided letters of recommendation. Zeldes worked with Berry on the award-winning “The Kings of Flint,” a documentary film about urban farming produced by Zeldes and created by MSU students. The documentary is part of a larger series called “The Greening of Flint,” which includes two other films, one of which is still in production. Along with Zeldes, Communication Arts & Sciences instructor Troy Hale, and fellow students, Berry is now working on a documentary tentatively titled “868 China” that follows a Chinese student at MSU to examine the impact of the American college experience on international students.

In addition to journalism and documentary film-making, Berry is passionate about solving problems and creating change in the world. She cites her time at the Residential College as a driving factor in shaping her world view and making her a better journalist. “I chose to do RCAH because I felt like that real change at the base of any change in humanity comes from understanding it,” she said. “A lot of problems in general could be fixed if we had a better understanding, so why wouldn’t I want to take on that role and gain that better understanding?” Berry’s experience with the RCAH civic engagement courses inspired her to take learning outside of a classroom context, and she currently leads an after-school creative writing program at Eastern High School, where she is an alumna.

Berry has worked at The Impact, MSU’s student radio station, for two years and created a News Director position and news team last summer. Her passion for public radio will translate into a summer internship with National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. Upon graduating in December 2012, she plans on either applying for Teach for America or looking for a job in public radio. Berry has also thought of doing something a little less traditional after graduating. “I’ve also considered taking some time off and potentially using some of my Featherstone money to do some kind of hybrid, journalistic, traveling civic engagement project, maybe driving around the States and telling stories for a bit of time,” she said. “At this point, it all depends on how it all works out.”


By Linnea Jimison, RCAH Communications Intern