Hawkeye alumni win awards, reflect on life since ULM

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Hawkeye alumni win awards, reflect on life since ULM

photo courtesy of Halen Doughty and LaMar Gafford

photo courtesy of Halen Doughty and LaMar Gafford

photo courtesy of Halen Doughty and LaMar Gafford

photo courtesy of Halen Doughty and LaMar Gafford

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“Once a Warhawk, always a Warhawk,” is a phrase most ULM graduates hold to be true.

ULM alumni, Halen Doughty and LaMar Gafford are no different in this belief.

Both graduates worked at the Hawkeye, the student-run newspaper on campus, in some capacity during college. Today, Doughty and Gafford are excelling in their respective journalism careers.

Halen Doughty, who graduated from ULM in the spring of 2015, recently won an award for Best Regular Column, or the Sam Hanna Award, at the Louisiana Press Associations Awards in New Orleans, LA.

Doughty was writing for the Donaldsonville Chief, the Gonzales Weekly Citizen, and Gumbo, a quarterly magazine, when she won the award.

One of the first things Doughty did after winning was let her old professor, Dr. Mapp, know.

“He definitely made me a better writer, and I credit a lot of my success to him,” she said of the ULM Director of Student Publications and Associate Professor of Communication.

“You can change jobs, do different things, and get the most out of life and your career, as long as you’re always striving to be better,” Doughty said.

LaMar Gafford, who graduated in 2010, also had many people to thank for helping him while at ULM.

“When I took a sports writing job with the Hawkeye in 2006, I never imagined this would be the result, but here we are,” he said.

“People like Eric McNeil, Christopher Mapp, Rod Richardson, Scott Ferrell, Carolyn Roy, Randy Benson and Jim Smilie have played huge roles just by hiring and trusting me,” Gafford said of the opportunities he’s had since graduating from ULM.

In 2017, the Louisiana Sports Writers Association awarded Gafford with first place in the Breaking News category, which meant a lot to him. Before that, Gafford won second place in the same category for an investigative sports story he wrote.

“Seeing everyone show love afterwards was amazing and humbling. What really got me was the athletes I cover congratulating me as well. They make this job as fun as it is,” Gafford said.

Some of LaMar’s favorite classes in school were design and multimedia. He said his favorite teachers at ULM were John Rodriguez, Dr. Bette Kauffman and Dr. Tae-hyun Kim.

After graduating from ULM, Gafford said he did struggle to find a job that worked for him. For a while, he worked as a stringer covering high school football games. Gafford said that although the position as a stringer might not have been for him tong-term, he stayed motivated and determined through his work.

Currently, Gafford is a sports reporter for the Town Talk, a newspaper publication in Alexandria, LA.

“During my spare time, I have a podcast called ‘The Prime Cut’ on Spreaker and iTunes, which airs live Wednesdays and Sundays on one of my friend’s start-up radio stations, Takeover Sports Media,” he said.

Podcasts are a great way to develop a signature voice or personality audiences can relate to. Branching out into other forms of journalism can be helpful for young writers trying to create their own path in this new media age.

 Doughty, on the other hand, favored scriptwriting and particularly, Dr. Kauffman’s public relations class. “I have used what I learned in her class much more than I thought I would,” she said.

After graduation, Doughty was offered a full-time job at Lagniappe Media (formerly Opus Broadcasting) where she worked before moving to a new position at Louisiana Radio Network in Baton Rouge, LA.

“I did interviews with congressmen, the governor and most everyone at the state capitol,” Doughty said, “it was a bit of a roller coaster for a while.” Her love of writing would push Doughty to places she didn’t even know she could reach.

From broadcast journalism to long-form writing, this ULM alum knows it all and does it well.

Doughty and Gafford may have taken flight but will never forget their time at the Hawkeye, because, like ULM’s motto says, “the best is on the bayou.”