2020 Winner of the Northern Tablelands ABC Friends Media Prize

2020 Winner of the Northern Tablelands ABC Friends Media Prize

University of New England student Sharnee Rawson was recently awarded the 2020 Friends of the ABC Prize ($500) in recognition of her outstanding achievements in academia, personal development and community engagement.  This prize is presented annually to the strongest student graduating from UNE's Bachelor of Media and Communications.

The prize was presented to Sharnee by the Northern Tablelands branch of the Friends, who cited Sharnee’s academic record and her endeavours outside of university as key to her success.

Sharnee, who is originally from Grafton, moved to Armidale to begin a Bachelor of Media and Communications degree in 2018. She writes that she always knew a career in publishing was a possibility.

“There’s a saying: ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ I always loved reading from an early age (a cliché in the publishing industry, I know), so I researched roles in publishing during high school. Editing, in particular, captured my attention. There’s something about refining a text that will be read and enjoyed by like-minded readers that offers enormous appeal. From there, I knew that I wanted to learn more about the craft,” Sharnee said.

“Originally, I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts degree at UNE. The course was great, but I quickly realised that I needed more specialisation to enter the publishing industry. After a year, I switched to a Bachelor of Media and Communications with a major in writing and publishing—and it’s a decision that I’m enormously grateful for. The degree explores a range of roles in media, including news, digital media, advertising, screen media, rhetoric and public affairs, creative writing, and publishing and editing. The lecturers were personable and well-informed, and I would recommend the course to anyone wishing to enter the creative industries.

“Although academic experience is crucial, I’ve also been fortunate to gain practical experience through numerous work opportunities in Armidale. In 2019, I was appointed editor-in-chief of the student news publication Tune!FM. The role involved writing, editing and scheduling articles. It was a fantastic confidence boost, and the experience gave me the skills I needed to apply for an internship. In 2020, I was granted the role of editor for the junior fiction novel Fil and Harry, which was produced by local publishing company Christmas Press. The opportunity confirmed my desire to work as an editor, particularly when I was able to hold a copy of the completed book in my hands!

“However, when I began a Bachelor of Media and Communications with Honours early this year, I assumed my extracurriculars were over. With full-time coursework and a thesis to write, the workload was highly concentrated, but the strain didn’t mean my practical endeavours were finished. The editing position at Christmas Press became a segue into a role as assistant editor on a Create NSW project organised by the United Publishers of Armidale and the New England Writers’ Centre.”

Sharnee’s project will be an illustrated book in both print and e-book form and will include contributions from notable authors, illustrators and publishing professionals, such as Shaun Tan (The Arrival and The Lost Thing), Julie Vivas (Possum Magic and The Nativity), Sally Rippin (Billie B Brown and Hey Jack!), Ursula Dubosarsky (The Golden Day and The Terrible Plop) and Sophie Masson (The Crystal Heart and Moonlight and Ashes).

“Alongside honours, I continue to work on the project, which has tentatively been titled Inside Story: the wonderful world of writing, illustrating and publishing children's books. It is scheduled for release in early 2022.”

“The experiences I’ve had in media so far have been incredibly rewarding, and receiving such a high honour from ABC Friends has only furthered my interest in the field. Recent events have also boosted the profile of media outlets for the general public—due to the social restrictions demanded by COVID-19, media consumption has soared. It’s a phenomenal industry to participate in at the moment, and I hope to continue growing and learning as a creative professional.”