When you know, you just know. And senior Victoria Feng has known for quite some time that journalism is her thing.
“I’ve been writing journalism for almost six years now,” Feng said. “I started when I was selected as a kid reporter for the Scholastic News Kid Press Corps in middle school.”
A winner of multiple state and national journalism awards along the way, Feng recently added another major distinction to her resume. She was named the runner-up in the Illinois Journalist of the Year Contest by the Illinois Journalism Education Association, which has been crowning the top high school journalist in Illinois for 33 years. Feng received a letter from IJEA executive editor Linda Jones that said, “Our board members, in reviewing your materials, noted particularly your strength in seeking out journalistic opportunities beyond your school. Your initiative impressed all of us.”
"Victoria represents the highest standards and ideals of journalism,” said Dean Bradshaw, Feng’s mentor and the sponsor of the Statesman. “She is so deserving of this recognition - not because she asked for it but because she has earned it with hours of dedicated reporting."
Feng has been busiest lately with the Statesman, where she is currently the online managing editor.
“It’s been an incredible privilege to cover the Stevenson community,” said Feng, who has also won awards from the National Federation of Press Women High School Communications Contest and the IHSA Journalism State Final. “Through my article assignments, I’ve gotten to know various Stevenson students and staff members who I had little idea about before. Through taking Journalistic Writing, Advanced Journalistic Writing, and now Statesman with Mr. Bradshaw, I’ve learned a lot about lede writing, AP Style, and more. His continuous mentorship these four years has made me a stronger writer and editor.”
For the IJEA contest, Feng submitted a variety of news, feature, opinion, and sports articles, including articles written for Statesman such as, “Striking for the Stratosphere” and “Competitive School Board Race Sparks Tensions.” The article “Striking for the Stratosphere” was Feng’s first printed Statesman article and it was about local students who are passionate about environmental action. “Competitive School Board Race Sparks Tensions” followed the debates surrounding last year’s school board electoral race, particularly on the topic of remote learning.
"Victoria is one of the most driven and ambitious young women I have ever taught,” Bradshaw said. “What sets her apart, however, is that her ambition and drive is not self-centered. Her work strives to reveal the stories and struggles of others. Victoria's passion is not telling her story - it is giving a voice to those without one."
One of the most fulfilling stories that Feng produced was the piece that got picked up by The New York Times: “What Pandemic Racism Feels Like.”
“It was very surreal to see my article in The New York Times Sunday print edition last year,” Feng said. “I wrote the article following an increase in anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes, and I feel very grateful to The New York Times for giving me a platform to report on AAPI experiences.”
Feng also loves the human element of reporting and journalism, getting to know people from all walks of life.
“I love hearing people’s stories and being able to share them with others,” Feng said. “Journalism is a combination of so many skills — interviewing, research, and critical thinking, for example — and it’s always gratifying to see how a story idea turns into a finished product available for anyone to read.”
Feng is hoping her work will be read for years to come. She will be attending the University of Chicago next year and hopes to be a professional journalist someday.
"I know this to be true - we will be reading Victoria's work for years to come," Bradshaw said. "It has been a true pleasure and honor to have worked with her these past four years. Her influence on our other staff members, our school, and our community cannot be measured. What a wonderful young leader."
Feng will be honored at the IJEA Annual Awards Luncheon, which will be held in Springfield on Saturday, June 4.