1998 Mississippi State University graduate Evelyn Palmer is a shining example of the future success MSU promises its graduates, and Palmer said she is proud to give her alma mater the credit.
A recent recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists’ prestigious Sigma Delta Chi award for her work covering the Thousand Oaks mass shooting in California, Phillips, now known in her career field as Germany Kent, is a television and print journalist, radio personality, non-fiction author, humanitarian, producer and social media influencer.
According to the Society of Professional Journalists’ website, the Sigma Delta Chi Award is an annual award that recognizes excellence in various journalistic categories including print, radio, television, graphics, online reporting and research.
On winning the award, Kent said although it was a huge honor to receive recognition from her fellow journalists, it is a tragedy stories such as these are a current reality in the world.
"It’s bittersweet. It’s a testament to hard work and a story that is real and raw, but it’s also devastating in that we have to cover stories like that," Kent said.
According to a press release from Kent’s media team, Kent was the first African American woman to receive the Sigma Delta Chi award in this category, a first that is actually not a first for Kent. While at Northwest Mississippi Community College, which she attended prior to her time at MSU, Kent was elected as the first African-American student government president, and while at MSU, Kent was the first African American woman elected to the MSU Student Association, where she served as attorney general.
Kent hopes her coverage of the Thousand Oaks shooting, which occurred at a bar near her home, will bring awareness to the growing problem of gun violence and its effects on victims’ families and communities.
“I hope in some kind of way that my story helps to shine a light on gun awareness, for all the victims from mass murders across the world, shining a light on what it shouldn’t be,” Kent said.
Kent’s career success, as evidenced by her many accolades and honors, with the Sigma Delta Chi award being only the most recent, is due largely to MSU and its programs, Kent said.
“I think that really made the difference in terms of looking back and in terms of where I am now. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, if I had not been involved in all of those different things, there’s no way I would be where I am. I know it,” Kent said.
According to Kent and her media team, while at MSU, Kent served as managing editor for The Reflector, a Roadrunner, an Orientation Leader, an Alumni Delegate, a Housing Ambassador, attorney general of the SA and a Bulldog Hostess.
Jimmy Abraham, who served as advisor for the Roadrunner program and worked closely with Kent in her time at the university, said it was evident she had all the raw qualities of being extremely successful in whatever endeavor she attempted.
“She was an outstanding young lady. I knew when I selected her that she was going to be very successful not only in those organizations, but in other things she was involved in at our university and then beyond that when she graduated, and certainly she has done that,” Abraham said. “When I first met her, she had all the intangibles. The only thing that I think Evelyn was missing was confidence in herself, and I think she would tell you that she gained that confidence at Mississippi State University.”
When asked what she would tell current MSU students, Kent said the key to making the most of your education and career is passion.
“Whatever you’re studying- if you’re not passionate about it- move on. Pursue something different. It should educate, inform and evoke information in you and if it doesn’t, you’re in the wrong field. Who you are should blend with what you do so it doesn’t seem like work,” Kent said.
For Kent, her passion for journalism is more than just a career— it is her service to humanity.
“Every day I wake up so happy to be a journalist and think ‘What can I do today to make a difference in the world? How can I use my talents and my skills to make somebody else’s life better?’” Kent said. "Being a journalist is your service to humanity, and you have to understand that it’s a service position and I love it."
Kent, whose career accomplishments are already impressive and too numerous to list, including being published in many prominent publications such as Forbes and Bloomberg and being an award-winning author and humanitarian, is nowhere near finished, saying she has multiple projects in the works.
Abraham said he was immensely proud of Kent and looks forward to seeing her continue to excel.
"I’m extremely proud of her and couldn’t be happier for all the success she has had and will continue for her," Abraham said. "We’ll follow her future with so much pride."