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Belmont professor honored by national organization

The National Association of Black Journalists officially honored Belmont professor Dr. Sybril Bennett as its 2015 Journalism Educator of the Year Wednesday.

Bennett received the award in recognition of her “service, commitment and academic guidance,” including her nomination as a finalist for Belmont’s highest teaching honor–the Virginia Chaney Teaching Award–in 2012, and her role as the National Convention program chair in Philadelphia in 2011.

She also received the NABJ Region 3 Achiever Award in 2014, according to the association’s website.

“I am ecstatic, excited–just joyful, absolutely joyful about this recognition from my association. I’ve been there 25 years,” Bennett said.

Bennett–known affectionately as Dr. Syb by colleagues and students–has belonged to the NABJ since 1990, when she studied at Marquette University in Milwaukee, and has taught at Belmont since 2003.

She helped found Belmont’s New Century Journalism program and garnered $200,000 in grant funds at its inception.

Now, she teaches classes like digital citizenship, entrepreneurial media and mass media and society, all of which focus on the “virtual revolution” of journalism, as she dubs it.

Before teaching, she did behind-the-scenes work at TV stations in Milwaukee and Chicago. She later served as a general assignment reporter for the CBS affiliate in Nashville, work for which she earned two Emmy Awards.

Additionally, the professor has spoken at events as close as 2o13’s TEDxNashville conference and as distant as Dublin for the Web Summit–also in 2013–according to Belmont’s website.

Bennett has been in the center of a “flurry of texts, phone calls, LinkedIn posts, Facebook posts, and tweets,” since she was officially notified Wednesday, which she calls “a blessing.”

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Formed in 1975 in Washington, D.C., the NABJ is “the largest organization for journalists of color in the nation,” according to its website. The association has awarded educators from institutions all over the country since 2005. Recipients have included instructors from Boston University and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Bennett will be presented the award publicly in August at the NABJ’s 40th annual national convention in Minneapolis.

“This honor is really about the diligent people who have helped me and worked with me through these years, so I cannot accept or discuss this award without thanking all the people who helped me,” she said. “I thank God, I thank the NABJ, I thank Belmont and I thank everybody.”

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