June 3, 2023

INBA names college scholarship winners

The 2023 INBA scholarship recipients are (clockwise from upper left) Harrison Belsanti, Carley Edwards, Jack Podlesnik and Abi Mitsven.

The Illinois News Broadcasters Association is proud to announce its 2023 college scholarship recipients. These talented students received their awards on Saturday, April 29, during the INBA Spring Convention in Springfield.

The INBA has been supporting college students pursuing degrees in broadcast journalism for nearly 60 years. During that time, including the $8,400 in awards being handed out this year, the INBA has awarded more than 200 scholarships worth nearly $190,000.

Here are this year’s winners:

Harrison Belsanti is a broadcast journalism major at Eastern Illinois University who anticipates he’ll graduate in May 2024. He works at WEIU-TV, the PBS station in Charleston and has served in many roles, including assistant producer, news anchor, reporter, videographer, camera operator, floor manager, graphics operator, teleprompter operator and video editor.

Harrison is being awarded the INBA Ed Brown Scholarship. Ed was a professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and was a longtime executive secretary for the INBA. Harrison, please come get your award.

Carley Edwards is a journalism major who will graduate in just a few weeks from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has worked as a reporter for the student TV station’s “UI7 Live” and “Good Morning Illini.” Carley has studied abroad in Italy, where she wrote, produced, edited and did her own camera work on a “short” entitled “Eternal Painting” featuring Iacopo Lastrucci, a beloved Mosaic Artist of Florence. She’s also been a video production intern for the Big Ten Network and a lab assistant at Richmond Studio, the teaching studio for students in the College of Media.  

Carley is being awarded the INBA’s Bill Miller Scholarship. Bill is a charter member of the INBA who worked at WTAX radio in Springfield from 1949 to 1967 before founding the Capitol Information Bureau. He then served for 20 years as director of the Public Affairs Reporting program at what was known then as Sangamon State University and now is UIS. He passed away in 2003, but we’re glad to remember him tonight as we honor Carley.

Abi Mitsven is a student at Illinois State University who is majoring in journalism and is on track to graduate this December. She works as an anchor and producer for ISU’s TV-10, where she’s also been a reporter, a weather person and worked the control room at the TV station. Abi has also worked at the Vidette, ISU’s student newspaper, as a news and features reporter.

Abi is being honored with the INBA Don Brown Scholarship. Don was a longtime journalist in Iowa and was a faculty member at the Universities of Iowa and Illinois and Arizona State University. Don was instrumental in forming the INBA in 1955. And this scholarship named after him has been in existence since 1963.

Jack Podlesnik is a journalism major at Illinois State University who plans to graduate this December. He’s worked all across campus in media jobs, including as a production crew member and MMJ for TV-10. He also worked at WZND, the student radio station, where he called ISU athletic events and wrote news stories. Jack also is an intern for WGLT, the campus’ public radio station. There, he’s done newscasts and hosting duties for NPR’s “All Things Considered” and is currently the “Morning Edition” newscaster for GLT and its sister station in Peoria, WCBU.

Jack is being honored tonight with the INBA Larry Wilson Scholarship. Larry was a longtime INBA member who served as news director of WSMI in Litchfield in the 1970s and ‘80s. He was an organizer and longtime support of the former INBA Road Shows and was a big advocate for involving students in INBA activities.

This year’s winners were chosen by the INBA Scholarship Selection Committee. This group reviewed numerous applications from student journalists around the state, conducted interviews with finalists and made some very tough decisions to select the four winners.

Thank you to the committee:

Devin Brooks, reporter/anchor, WQAD-TV, Quad Cities, a multi-time INBA scholarship winner himself.

Ryan Burrow, reporter/anchor, WGN Radio, Chicago

Rachel Lippmann, justice reporter, St. Louis Public Radio

Emily Manley, the Missouri capitol bureau reporter for Nexstar

The INBA Scholarship program is supported through the INBA Foundation, which would welcome your help to continue supporting college broadcasting students. If you’re interested in making a gift to support that effort, make an online donation now.

Nora Baldner

The support INBA gives to student journalists is vitally important as we all discover how technology is changing news dissemination, INBA monitors and actively encourages truth, transparency and accountability from students and their universities.

Jeff Bossert

When I was working in radio for the first time, I had no idea whether I could truly handle the demands. But INBA made me curious and want to improve. Even now, when I’ve maybe worked a lot of hours or planned some stories that didn’t come together for one reason or another, what I learn from an INBA conference gets me re-invigorated about the business.

Brian O'Keefe

One of the greatest benefits for me has been getting to see and know other parts of the state. I’m not from Illinois and traveling to spring and fall conventions over the years has transformed dots on a map to memories of places that enhance my story telling process.

Ryan Denham

I recently attended my first INBA conference—and it won’t be my last. The combination of professional and student journalists learning together is electric. Everyone learns from each other and walks away with new friends (and LinkedIn connections). I know I did.

Michelle Eccles McLaughlin

INBA is an organization that really caters to continuing education for professionals. It offers a relatively inexpensive way to learn new things, reinforce best practices and network.

Aaron Eades

As a student, it's often difficult to picture what working in the real world will be like. For me, the INBA bridged that gap by giving me the chance to talk to professionals who used to be in the same shoes I'm in now.

Alexis McAdams

INBA played a huge part in preparing me for my broadcasting career. The INBA conventions connect students with on-air talent and news directors who give feedback on now to improve your work. Through relationships I made at those conventions, I was able to obtain my first on air reporting job.

Andrew Tanielian

INBA taught me how to network in a meaningful way. The scholarship process taught me how to endure a hard job interview and thrive.

Mike Miletich

Joining the INBA was one of my best life decisions. I met some of the best broadcast journalists while I was still a college student. Plus, I ended up getting a job through the connections I made!

Jennifer Fuller

INBA is not only a great networking tool, it also provides advocacy and support for journalists in an ever-changing world.

Molly Jirasek

One of my top goals in my career was to get to Chicago. Thanks to INBA I met Margaret Larkin. She remembered our great conversations about Chicago and first alerted me to a job opening in the city I might be interested in. Lo and behold, I got that job! INBA helped me reach my dream.

Bob Roberts

INBA is as much about friendship and as it is about achieving common goals. It provides two things individual newsrooms cannot: in-service training, and the ability to speak out on issues affecting the profession. But most of all, it brings newspeople together.

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