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SPJ extols excellence, endows Puckey with Galvan award

By eijnews

By Jordain Carney
The Working Press
When Tara Puckey decided to run to become a campus representative for the Society of Professional Journalists, she hardly knew anyone.
Two years later, SPJ honored her for what the society deemed outstanding work.

Tara Puckey, of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, received the Julie Galvan Outstanding Graduate in Journalism Award. Carolina Hidalgo/The Working Press

The society has endowed Puckey with the Julie Galvan Outstanding Graduate in Journalism Award. The award is given annually to a journalism graduate based on character, service to the community, scholarship, proficiency in practical journalism and contributions to their SPJ chapter.
“I think it means more to me because it’s from people who are my friends and not just my peers and colleagues,” Puckey said in an interview before Monday’s ceremony.
Galvan, the award’s namesake, is a former president of SPJ’s student chapter at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif. She was killed in a car accident in 1996 while driving to an internship at The Washington Post.
Puckey said a lifelong family and networking are the greatest things about SPJ.
“A lot of other student organizations begin at the student level and then end at the student level,” she said. “This is something that you can get involved in as a student and then you’ll have these people forever.”
Puckey, 28, graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
Part of her role as one of SPJ’s campus representatives was giving input and perspective to other board members.
Kim Fox, an SPJ at-large campus adviser, said Puckey has been a wonderful advocate not just for the organization but also for students.
“She has just taken so many incentives and run with them,” Fox said, crediting Puckey with getting SPJ involved in the College Media Advisers group.
“She went to the convention and put together a little SPJ program and really heightened our visibility at CMA,” Fox said.
Kevin Smith, a former SPJ president, agreed that Puckey was an “incredible addition” to the board.
“It’s sometimes hard to think of her as a student representative because she does so much,” he said. “She’s really set the bar high for future representatives.”
Puckey said it’s important for chapter presidents to support SPJ.
“That builds enthusiasm,” she said. “We’re doing something collective for journalism.”
Her advice for SPJ’s student leaders is to focus on building membership, not just while they are on campus but also after they leave college.
Unlike other students who put school before marriage, Puckey said she married first and then lucked into journalism.
After deciding to go back to school, Puckey said she went through an alphabetical list of programs. She didn’t want anything to do with math, but was good at writing and chose journalism.
“I picked the perfect thing. It was kind of an accident,” Puckey said. “I didn’t grow up knowing that that’s what I wanted to do.”