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Outstanding Journalists Honored on UTA campus at 2016 Barbara Jordan Media Awards

Monday, April 25, 2016 • Media Contact: Bridget Lewis

The University of Texas at Arlington hosted the 33rd Annual Barbara Jordan Media Awards ceremony Saturday, April 23, recognizing the top journalists in Texas for meaningful reports about individuals with intellectual or physical challenges.

The awards, presented annually by the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, honor writers and videographers who produced accurate, respectful and constructive reports.

This year’s winning entries included stories about people with disabilities who are successful entrepreneurs, athletes, and dancers. Other award recipients shined a light on challenges such as low pay and a lack of state-funded programs that offer social and housing support.

While the awards are given to Texas journalists, many of the individuals featured in the reports also attended the ceremony. Several addressed the crowd and offered moving remarks about overcoming obstacles and stereotypes.

One of the winning reports told the story of Daniel Velasquez, a track and field athlete for the Movin’ Mavs, UTA’s adaptive athletics program. Though he faces challenges associated with having cerebral palsy, Velasquez is training for the 2016 Paralympic Games while studying broadcast communication.

“You have a goal, and you do whatever it takes to get it done,” Velasquez said. “I train and compete and wear the UTA shirt. When I’m not competing I recruit, recruit, recruit to continue building up the program.”

The awards are named in honor of the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. A Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Jordan battled multiple sclerosis. She was a passionate advocate for equal access for people with disabilities.

Longtime public servant Mike Moncrief, former Texas state senator, state representative and Fort Worth mayor, provided the keynote address at the ceremony and shared fond memories of working with Jordan in the Texas Senate.

UTA Senior Video Producer Teresa Woodard Schnyder served as emcee for the awards ceremony. Schnyder is a previous Barbara Jordan Media Award recipient.

UTA President Vistasp Karbhari said the event, “not only honored the legacy of a great Texan but also celebrated the achievements of a wonderful set of individuals. Through their respectful portrayal of people with disabilities, they remind us to put the person first and not the disability.”

A portion of each winning entry and a video address from Gov. Greg Abbott can be seen here. To see more photos from the event, visit our Flickr album.

UTA’s Minor in Disability Studies, the only program of its kind in the south, was also featured during the program.

“Building a Barrier-Free Campus,” an exhibit exploring how UTA became a model accessible campus for students with disabilities, debuted at the ceremony. The “Building a Barrier-Free Campus” exhibit officially opens at noon May 4 with a roundtable and a reception in the 6th Floor Parlor of the Central Library.

UTA also recently earned a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop an online portal for disability history. The 2016 Barbara Jordan Media Award Winners are:



Greg Groogan and John Starling

KRIV-TV, Houston

Local Paralympic Athlete Another Step Closer to His Dream

David Chancellor

WOAI-TV, San Antonio


The Hardest Working Man

Bob Phillips, Kelli Phillips, and Brian Hawkins

Phillips Production, Dallas


Team Manager Inspires Georgetown Eagles to Soar

Rodolfo Gonzalez and Kelly West

Austin American-Statesman, Austin

PRINT (tie):

The Waiting Game

John Savage

The Texas Observer

Texas State’s Guendling Gives up Football to Sign Songs

Steve Habel

Austin American Statesman, Austin


Why Do We Volunteer?

Kelvin Anderson, Rey Barrera, Ken Bodden, Jason Lehecka, and Joe Maloney

Department of Aging and Disability Services, Austin


Salsa and the Machine

Lea Konczal and Jeanette Perez

The University of Texas at Austin


Meredith & Me: A mother and daughter on a profoundly different journey

Sarah Barnes



State Pays Some Workers with Disabilities Pennies Per Hour

Alain Stephens

KUT, Austin


The Navigation Equation – How Blind Students Take on Texas Tech

David Talley

Texas Tech University

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie “highest research activity” institution of more than 52,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at