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DSU Student Wins Annual Lecture Series and Essay Competition First-Place Award

By Taylor Lewis

The McCarthey Family Foundation recently honored Dixie State University student Braxton Thornley with a first-place award during its 10th annual lecture series and essay competition. Competing against students from over 35 institutions, Thornley won the university/college category for his essay on the topic, “Why a free press matters in a democracy.”

“Journalism is very important for any free society to operate and it is frustrating to hear attacks on journalists and journalism as a whole,” Thornley said. “By entering this essay competition, it is nice knowing the McCarthey Foundation has given me an opportunity to take a stand and defend journalism.”


Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in secondary education, Thornley currently student-teaches one day a week at Dixie High School. Next semester, he will begin student-teaching 50 hours a week, and after graduation, Thornley hopes to eventually teach language arts. Because he was involved in journalism and debate classes in high school, Thornley said he also wants to teach classes that educate students about the importance of the media and journalism.


“We need to recognize that media does play an important role in our society, and it is vital to the success of democracy,” Thornley said.


Staying true to Thomas McCarthey’s wishes to establish a “lasting legacy for an independent press,” the foundation’s trustees created the competition to give journalists and students an outlet to voice their concerns. Journalists who have demonstrated the highest level of courageous and thoughtful reporting host the annual series, and this year, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-hosts Mika Brezinski and Joe Scarborough presented a lecture on “Press, Politics, & the Midterm Elections.”