UM Alumna Clara Turnage Receives Chronicle of Higher Education Award

Former DM editor honored for excellence in her in-depth and breaking news coverage

Clara Turnage

OXFORD, Miss. – Clara Turnage, an alumna of the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media, received The Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2017 David W. Miller Award for Young Journalists, a $3,000 prize given to the publication’s top intern each year.

Turnage, a New Hebron native, began interning for the Chronicle shortly after graduating in May. She was recognized for her breaking news coverage of the violence at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, her in-depth coverage of the firing of Texas A&M University’s provost and an article she wrote about mental health challenges faced by international students on U.S. campuses.

She said she worked with other accomplished interns from around the country and was surprised to receive the award.

“Many of their interns come from Ivy League schools and have had multiple professional internships before this one,” she said. “It was an honor to work with the reporters and editors at the Chronicle, but receiving the Miller Award is just incredible.”

Turnage developed her passion for education reporting because of its importance in Mississippi. This led to her to initially seek the internship at the higher education newspaper earlier this year.

“I believe it is incredibly important to a state like Mississippi, where there are fewer large cities or economic drivers to lure big businesses, jobs and opportunities,” Turnage said. “The more educated the population is, the more our students and youth can achieve, which in turn benefits our state. If we wish to lower poverty rates, I think education is a good place to start.

“I knew that, at the Chronicle, I would get to provide articles that mattered to readers who cared. I thought them a little out of my range when I first applied, and I was incredibly honored to join their intern team over the summer.”

Turnage said she enjoyed her time interning for the publication, where other reporters and editors created a learning work environment and offered feedback and new perspectives. She said her experience covering the events in Charlottesville, while scary, gave her a journalistic focus that she credits to her time at The Daily Mississippian.

“It was a joy to watch Clara blossom as a young journalist in her four years at The Daily Mississippian,” said Patricia Thompson, assistant dean for student media at the UM journalism school. “She learned so much from the student editors who mentored her.

“Clara won top awards for her leadership as editor-in-chief, and for news reporting, feature writing, enterprise reporting, op-ed column writing and in-depth projects. She did stunning work that had a major impact on this campus and community. She worked hundreds of hours each semester, while at the same time maintaining a high GPA in her rigorous journalism and computer science classes.”

Turnage is telling important Mississippi stories as the education reporter for The Natchez Democrat. She primarily covers elementary and high school, while still covering higher education.

For more information about The Chronicle of Higher Education and Turnage’s work, visit