Bridgeland HS senior named 2023 TAJE Journalist of the Year
Bridgeland High School senior Haylie Stum, right, interviews Connor Weigman, former Bridgeland and current Texas A&M University quarterback, after a football game as part of her work as a VYPEU ambassador. Stum was named the 2023 Texas Association of Journalism Educators Journalist of the Year.
March 30, 2023—Bridgeland High School senior Haylie Stum was named the 2023 Texas Association of Journalism Educators (TAJE) Journalist of the Year on March 2.
Stum, who in addition to being an award-winning student journalist, is a varsity softball pitcher and outfielder. Stum was surprised with the news of her TAJE Journalist of the Year honor before Bridgeland’s game against Kingwood High School.
“I had no idea this was happening,” Stum said. “When they asked me to go to the pitcher’s circle before the game, I didn’t think anything of it because I was the starting pitcher for our game. I didn’t know what was happening until they started speaking. It was one of the most special moments of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised.”
Stum began her journalism career as an eighth grade student working as a junior reporter for Cy-Sports Live. During Stum’s freshman year while covering a varsity football game, Samantha Berry, former Bridgeland journalism adviser, recruited Stum to be a staff member for Bridgeland student media. After her first year on the school’s newspaper staff, Stum became the first female sports editor for The Bridge and now serves as co-editor-in-chief.
Bridgeland High School senior Haylie Stum embraces Traci Underwood, Bridgeland High School director of instruction, after finding out she was named the 2023 TAJE Journalist of the Year. Underwood was among Bridgeland and CFISD staff who surprised Stum before the Bears’ softball game on March 2.
In addition to working for Bridgeland student media, Stum has worked as a VypeU ambassador traveling across the state of Texas to cover a wide array of varsity football games. This has led to Stum building a strong social media following and her work being picked up by professional media outlets including the Houston Chronicle and Vype.com.
“Haylie is one of those students that teachers remember forever,” Berry said. “She is tenacious, intrinsically motivated, entrepreneurial and kind to her very core. I cannot stress enough the magnitude of this award. Texas is one of the top states in the country for student journalism and Haylie faced tough competition. Her attention to detail, self-motivation to cover hard topics and leadership were cherries on top of a robust portfolio featuring incredible writing, photo and design samples. She holds herself to the highest standard and represents Bridgeland and CFISD with class and grace. I am eternally proud of her. This is just the start for Haylie. There is no limit to what she can and will do.”
Stum began building her online portfolio for the TAJE Journalist of the Year contest in March 2022 after watching Bridgeland graduate Tommy Yarrish go through the process his senior year. Yarrish was named the runner-up in the 2021 TAJE Journalist of the Year contest.
“It took me months to complete the application,” Stum said. “I honestly never thought I could take on a project like this because it’s very daunting, but I think I owed it to myself to apply and try to receive as much recognition as I could.”
Bridgeland High School senior Haylie Stum, third from left, poses with, from left, Alexis Berkey, Bridgeland High School journalism adviser; David Raffield, former Bridgeland head football coach; Ray Zepeda, CFISD director of athletics; Mike Smith, Bridgeland principal; and Traci Underwood, Bridgeland director of instruction, after Stum was announced as the 2023 TAJE Journalist of the Year.
A number of Bridgeland and CFISD staff attended the surprise and have shown their support for Stum’s honor.
“It means so much to me that Haylie won this award because I cannot think of a more deserving student,” said Alexis Berkey, Bridgeland journalism adviser. “Haylie is one of the hardest workers I know and has put a lot into her professional career throughout her entire time in high school. I am so lucky to have worked with her.”
Mike Smith, Bridgeland principal, added: “What an amazing honor it is for Haylie to be named the TAJE Journalist of the Year. She has so much talent and Bridgeland High School has been blessed to benefit from her work and share in her accomplishments.”
Stum will represent Texas at the Journalism Educators Association (JEA) National High School Journalism Convention on April 20-22 in San Francisco and compete for the JEA National High School Journalist of the Year.
“This honor means that all of the sacrifices have paid off,” Stum said. “I would come home from softball practice and be on my computer until midnight working on stories and then wake up at 5 a.m. and do it all over again. Texas is a big state and has a lot of talent in every facet. To be the best in a state that’s so talented means more than I can express. I’m very honored, humbled and I’m looking forward to the national competition.”