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2012 Outstanding Journalism Alumni Honored

2012 Outstanding Journalism Alumni Award Winners(From left) Battle Vaughn, Gil Michael, Gary Parrish, Chelsea Boozer, Department of Journalsim Chair Dr. David Arant and Hardin Chair of Excellence in Journalism Otis Sanford

The University of Memphis Journalism Alumni Club honored five individuals during its annual awards banquet last semester at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn.

The club honored local advertising executive/freelance writer Rikki Boyce and retired Miami Herald photojournalist Battle Vaughn with the Charles E. Thornton Outstanding Alumni Award. Gil Michael, who served as director of Photo Services at the U of M for 35 years, received the Herbert Lee Williams Award. Gary Parrish, national basketball columnist for and host of “The Gary Parrish Show” on 92.9 FM ESPN in Memphis, received the Outstanding Young Journalism Alumni Award. U of M journalism student Chelsea Boozer, recent editor-in-chief of The Daily Helmsman and Fall ’12 bachelor’s in journalism honors graduate, was recognized as the University’s Emerging Journalist.

Keynote speaker for the event was Otis Sanford, columnist for The Commercial Appeal and holder of the Hardin Chair of Excellence in Journalism at the U of M. Action News 5 anchor Joe Birch was emcee.

The Charles E. Thornton Award is named in honor of a Memphis journalist who was killed while on assignment in Afghanistan in 1985. The Herbert L. Williams Award is named in honor of the U of M Journalism Department’s founding chair.

For more information about the Journalism Alumni Club, contact Shannon Miller at 901-678-4373.

Rikki Boyce

  • Provided advertising strategy and creative writing services to advertising agencies, design firms and a number of industrial and retail clients for past two decades.
  • Was creative director for Sossaman Bateman Advertising.
  • Served as adjunct professor of advertising at the University of Memphis.
  • Won a number of local, regional and national awards, including national ADDYs, for her creative work.
  • Appeared in Print, Communication Arts Design Annual and the Graphis Annual.
  • Currently serves on the College of Communication & Fine Arts Advisory Board.

Battle Vaughn 

  • Worked for the Kingsport (Tenn.) Times-News after graduation before moving on to The Miami Herald as a staff photographer.
  • Worked at Miami Herald until his retirement in 2009 as a photographer, lab manager, Graphics Department administrator, photo editor, and for the final three years as a video producer for the website.
  • Has been published in Life, Time, Newsweek, Geo, The New York Times and other publications.
  • Holds the staff record of 105 cover stories produced for The Miami Herald’s former Sunday magazine, Tropic.
  • Won awards from the National Press Photographer's Association, the Associated Press Managing Editors, and Editor and Publisher Magazine.

Gil Michael

  • Retired from the U of M in 1996 after more than 35 years of service
  • Spent the night of July 19, 1968 in jail photographing the incarceration of James Earl Ray at the special request of then-Shelby County Sheriff Bill Morris. Of the 65 photos made, only one was released for immediate worldwide distribution. It became one of the most published photos of the year.
  • Served as photographer for the FedEx St. Jude Classic for more than 35 years. Was photographer for several books, including Graceland: The Living Legacy of Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley’s Graceland: The Official Guidebook, and A Painter’s Psalm: The Mural from Walter Anderson’s Cottage.
  • Has photographed a variety of political figures, entrepreneurs and celebrities.
  • Manages Gil Michael Photography and performs with various bands.

Gary Parrish

  • Is a national college basketball columnist for, a national college basketball analyst for the CBS Sports Network and the host of “The Gary Parrish Show” on 92.9 FM ESPN in Memphis. The radio show is the highest-rated sports talk show in the history of the city. It has been voted the best local sports talk show by readers of the Memphis Flyer every year since it first aired.
  • Began his professional career as a reporter at The Commercial Appeal, where he most notably broke the Albert Means recruiting scandal in 2001 that prompted a federal investigation of three Memphians and NCAA investigations into Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky.
  • Covered John Calipari’s U of M basketball program for The Commercial Appeal from 2002 to 2006. He left The CA in 2006 to work for CBS.

Chelsea Boozer

  • Was a Fall ’12 BA in Journalism honors graduate.
  • Was editor-in-chief of The Daily Helmsman, the independent student newspaper at the University of Memphis.
  • Completed a reporting internship with Scripps Howard Foundation Wire in Washington, D.C. last summer.
  • Is a two-time winner of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation Collegiate Journalism Awards in two categories, in-depth reporting and feature writing.
  • Received an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for a series of stories about the allocation of student activity fees in 2011. Also that year, she was named College Journalist of the Year in the Best of the South Awards presented by the Southeastern Journalism Conference.
  • Received a first-place Mark of Excellence award for in-depth reporting from the Region 12 Society of Professional Journalists.
  • Interned at The Commercial Appeal in the summer of 2011 after participating in a war-reporting seminar in Mainz, Germany.

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