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Tickets for NABJ-WIU Dameris Bagwell Banquet on Sale Through April 27

April 20, 2009

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MACOMB, IL - - The inaugural awarding of a scholarship in the name of late Western Illinois University student Dameris Bagwell will occur at a Saturday, May 9 awards banquet at the student organization she helped create in Spring 2008.

The 21-year old Bloomington (IL) native was killed in a traffic accident Dec. 1, 2008 while traveling back to WIU. Students met with University counselors and decided they would like to attend a memorial ceremony on campus for Dameris. Over 100 students, faculty and staff concluded a candlelit walk around Lake Ruth, with a remembrance two nights later at the Alumni House.

"This event will be different," said Dameris' mother, Beverly Bagwell. "I am so honored to have given birth to a precious person like Dameris. I know that this banquet is part of fulfilling her purpose and destiny."

The banquet, which will be held at Sapphire Restaurant's upstairs ballroom in downtown Macomb, begins at 5 p.m. with a social hour, followed by a Caribbean themed dinner from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Local musician Sandra Mosely will offer background piano music throughout the evening. A brief awards ceremony for the WIU chapter of National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ-WIU) officers will follow.

Journalism faculty, led by Program Director Mohammad Siddiqi, set high standards for the Bagwell Scholarship.

"Dameris was a force in the classroom and on campus," said Siddiqi. "The criteria faculty set for the scholarship reflects that."

She was a minority ambassador at WIU, was a peer educator for the University's Beu Health Center and was a member of Western's Student Orientation Staff. She had served as vice president of the newly-formed NABJ-WIU; and she had written for the Western Courier, the student-run newspaper on campus.

The $250 Bagwell Scholarship will be awarded to a minority student who has at least a sophomore standing as a journalism major or minor. Other criteria reflect the special nature of Dameris' presence on campus, in that the student receiving the Bagwell Scholarship must also be active in at least one professional student organization.

"Dameris was instrumental in organizing the NABJ at WIU," said President Robert Amaefule (Chicago), a senior journalism major. "She really knew how to manage her time with our organization and the other three she was involved with. Dameris was a very reliable vice-president (of NABJ-WIU), she was proactive and she tactfully ensured things got done."

"Dameris was clearly the 'go to' person for students who missed class, that's what you hear from all the students," said NABJ-WIU Adviser Lisa Barr, and assistant professor of journalism. "That excellence clearly is reflected in the 3.59 GPA her parents were so very proud of."

Last week, Barr learned that her request for Bagwell's receipt of an honorary, posthumous Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism was approved.

"Dameris was one semester shy of finishing, and given her exemplary record, I think it was clear to everyone what would have happened," Barr said.

The dozen or more students and faculty who attended Dameris' "home-going" funeral ceremonies Dec. 6 heard Rev. Darrell Bagwell, Dameris' father, speak about the emphasis he placed upon education, Barr added.

"I wanted my children to excel in their education and their Christianity," said Rev. Bagwell.

This year, proceeds from the awards banquet will also benefit the NABJ-WIU travel fund, which came at the request of Rev. Bagwell.

The deadline to order tickets - - $35 each, of which $14 is tax deductible - - is Monday, April 27. Individuals interested in purchasing tickets to the banquet or in donating to the 2009 Dameris Bagwell Awards Banquet should contact Clara Carrigan, WIU Journalism Program office support associate, Simpkins Hall 226 D, e-mail or phone (309) 298-1216.

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