CHC Foundation names 2024 Les Brownlee Scholarship recipient: Patience Hurston from Columbia College Chicago

By Storer “Bob” Rowley

The Chicago Headline Club and the Chicago Headline Club Foundation are pleased to announce that Columbia College Chicago Junior Patience Hurston is the recipient of the 2024 Les Brownlee Memorial Scholarship–a $5,000 annual grant given to a Chicago-and-Illinois-area journalism student in honor of Les Brownlee.

The foundation received 17 applications this year for the scholarship from an array of excellent candidates from private and public institutions around Chicago and Illinois. After an extensive review of applicants, the Foundation Board chose Hurston Wednesday (April 17).

Hurston is finishing their Junior year at Columbia College Chicago and was just named Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Chronicle, where they will transition this summer from their role as Copy Chief into the senior leadership job. 

The Chicago native is completing their third year at Columbia and will graduate next year with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism (Magazine & Feature Writing) and a minor in Black World Studies as part of the Class of 2025. They grew up on the South Side and in the South suburbs and feel “proud” and “very protective” of Chicago and its reputation. 

Hurston has worked for a variety of professional news sites. As a copy editor intern for Slapstik Magazine last year, they reviewed and revised content for the Ohio-based national online humor magazine. As a designer and reporter for True Star Media over five years, they wrote articles and collaborated with multiple groups for a magazine focused on South and West Side Chicago youth, helping them find their skills and voices. They wrote everything from entertainment stories to reports on the importance of taking COVID-19 more seriously as the pandemic widened. More recently, they have written weekly and monthly newsletters for G-Mart Comics, finding work in a field where they were already a huge fan.

“In a field rich with outstanding candidates, Hurston emerged as a shining example of excellence,” said Molly McDonough, Chicago Headline Club Foundation President. “Their dedication to community-centered journalism and a deep commitment to fostering positive change and amplifying the voices of underrepresented communities impressed our board.

“It’s an honor to support Hurston’s continued educational and professional journey in journalism,” she continued. “We look forward to seeing what they do next in their career.”

Hurston was ecstatic to learn they had earned the scholarship. They said it’s a welcome supplement to the salary they earn at various jobs, and it gives them confidence they can continue to afford to pay for their education. Hurston hopes to get an MA at Columbia in Media for Social Impact. 

“I want to tell all the stories about Chicago because I am so proud of this place, and I want people to see it,” Hurston said. “I am honored and elated to get the Les Brownlee Scholarship, and I’m so grateful. Every step I have taken in journalism, people have believed in me. There’s no feeling like that, and winning this makes me believe I can do this.” 

Hurston said some of their most formative journalism experience has been working for the Columbia Chronicle, where they recently co-bylined a major story from an exclusive interview with Columbia President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim discussing his earlier resignation announcement, the recent strike by part-time faculty and layoffs at the school during its recent financial crisis.

“Two years ago, I just wanted to write for the Chronicle, and now I’m going to run the place,” Hurston exclaimed. “I paid for college on my own, and this scholarship lightens my load. Now I don’t have to worry.”

McDonough and Scholarship Committee Chair Storer Rowley made a special point of noting that the Foundation is deeply grateful every year for the work done by deans, faculty advisors, counselors and student media at Chicago-area and Illinois higher education institutions to pass on news of the scholarship opportunity to prospective journalism students and encourage those interested to apply.

Brownlee, who died in 2005, was the first African-American member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the first African-American president of the Chicago Headline Club. 

Les Brownlee Scholarship applicants are current undergraduate journalism students at Chicago-area and Illinois colleges or universities. A Chicago Headline Club Foundation committee assesses candidates based on their journalism excellence and potential, previous experience, clips, cover letter and demonstrated interest in pursuing a journalism career.

Applications for next year’s scholarship will open in February 2025.

About the Chicago Headline Club Foundation:
The foundation is an IRS-recognized 501c3 nonprofit devoted to providing education and related services supporting Chicago-area journalism. Its mission is to fund professional, student and citizen journalists to enhance responsible and ethical media practices. For more information, visit the CHC Foundation info page

About the Chicago Headline Club:
For more than 100 years, the Chicago Headline Club has served as the local professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Student membership is half-price. More information on rates and membership can be found here.