From Staff Reports
Eric Nishimoto of Prosper, a student at the University of North Texas’ Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism, was named a National Winner in the Photo Illustration category of the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2012 Mark of Excellence Awards.
The MOE Awards honor the best of collegiate journalism that was published during the previous year. Student journalists submitted more than 4,600 entries to the 2012 competition.
National Mark of Excellence Award winners are selected from the first place winner and two finalists in each of the SPJ’s 12 regions, and each region includes divisions for large, medium and small colleges and universities, based on undergraduate and graduate student enrollment. The competition’s judges may also opt to not choose a national winner from the regional winners and finalists.
Nishimoto was previously named the Region 8 first place winner for Photo Illustration in the Large School Division, which includes all colleges and universities with total student enrollment of 10,000 and more. Region 8 includes colleges and universities in Texas and Oklahoma. His winning illustration was published with "The Hummingbird’s Son," Nishimoto’s profile of poet, novelist, and essayist Luis Alberto Urrea in the 2012 issue of Mayborn magazine, an annual publication produced by students that showcases writers who were speakers at that year’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. Nishimoto was the creative director and staff artist for that issue.
In the illustration, Nishimoto depicted Urrea, the son of an American mother and a Mexican father, with barbed wire fencing draped around him as a hummingbird flutters near his face. He took the title of his story from Urrea’s novel, "The Hummingbird’s Daughter," in which Urrea tells the story of his great-aunt, Teresita Urrea.
Nishimoto said interviewing Urrea was "one of the best experiences I had in my life."
"A lot of his books are about the border experience. Many of those who lived on the U.S.-Mexican border in the 1800s were trapped there, but his great aunt was able to transcend the border experience," he said. "In his books, Urrea tried to heal the rift between the two cultures — immigrants and Americans who oppose them — and tries to write for not only Latinos, but the rest of us."
Nishimoto is currently the public information officer for Collin County and a freelance writer and graphic artist on the side. He is a volunteer with Samaritan Inn, Collin County’s only homeless shelter. Nishimoto raised more than $10,000 worth of furniture and other supplies to furnish apartments for the Inn’s Gateway Apartments transitional housing facility.
He has also volunteered with the nonprofit organizations Cornerstone Network and Birthday Blessings.
A native of Southern California, Nishimoto received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California at Los Angeles, where he also studied computer graphics at the School of Visual Arts. He will receive his master’s degree from UNT this December.
In addition to Nishimoto’s National Mark of Excellence Award, the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism received a National Finalist recognition in the In-Depth Reporting Category for a series of stories, "Our Remedy or Ruin?" The series on the federal Affordable Care Act was written by students in the graduate institute, including Nishimoto, and reporters at the Denton Record-Chronicle, where the series was published in February and March 2012. In April, the series also won the first-place Community Service Award in this year’s Texas Associated Press Managing Editors competition.