The Greenlee School and Kappa Tau Alpha presented their Diversity and Inclusion Award on Wednesday as part of Iowa State’s First Amendment Days.
Rheya Spigner, KCCI anchor and reporter, and Whitney Mason, reporter and Voices editor for the Iowa State Daily, were recognized for their outstanding work progressing diversity and inclusion in the journalism field.
Kelly Winfrey, an Iowa State Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications, introduced Spigner and Mason. Winfrey gave brief overview on what the two recipients have been involved with and why they have been selected for this award.
“I love being able to hear and see different perspectives of the community,” Spigner said. “This award is extremely validating that I am where I’m supposed to be.”
After being introduced, Spigner and Mason each delivered speeches on their work experiences and career goals.
Spigner has been acknowledged with this award because of her commitment to social issues and diversity. She has led KCCI’s project community initiative focused on diverse issues.
Spigner, originally from Los Angeles, began working in Albany, Georgia. Her first job was a multimedia journalist. She learned the importance of her representation in the newsroom and how the color of her skin would be relevant to some stories.
Spigner is thankful her perspective is recognized and that she gets to walk into a job she loves every day.
Mason is the student winner of the award. She was recommended by several faculty members for this award as she shows a “true commitment to diversity.”
When speaking about attending Iowa State, Mason said she was aware of Iowa State’s lack of diversity but loves a challenge. Mason said she loves to explore and understand people.
Mason decided to join the Iowa State Daily staff. Mason said her work taught her how to communicate with people and she knew she wanted to tell the stories of diverse communities. Working at the Iowa State Daily taught Mason how the little things can change people’s lives.
After the speeches of the recipients the audience was able to ask questions. One area focused on was the advice Spigner and Mason had for others.
A question was asked on what the best advice they had received. A piece of advice that Spigner was given was to always keep your peace.
“Being a woman of color you will face adversity,” Spigner said. “You have to remember what you’re there for, what you stand for, what you believe in and follow that through.”
Spigner and Mason offered advice specific to journalism students as well. Mason noted the significance of supporting college journalism and media by being involved with it in college whether it’s writing or broadcasting.
“My brother always told me ‘don’t limit yourself,’” Mason said. “I think that’s very valuable. I had a multicultural beat as a reporter but I sprinkled myself in different areas ... then finally know where you’re coming from.”
Mason said this award shows her and Spigner have a meaningful impact on their communities.
“Diversity is all about embracing people from different backgrounds,” Mason said. “You can be different inward or outward but still have similarities and be able to relate to each other.”