Undergraduate student Gino Terrell has a passion for telling stories. Terrell, a junior majoring in communication studies and minoring in digital media arts, has turned his passion into a professional ambition that’s already getting him noticed. He is a senior sports reporter for Hamline’s independent student newspaper, The Oracle, he has written and published two articles for the popular news website MinnPost.com, and he’s received the Minnesota SPJ Student Scholarship.
“Gino is an excellent writer and diligent worker. I can truly see him evolve into one of the most prolific journalist of our time,” said father Mario Terrell.
Terrell first found his talent for writing when he attended Maple Grove high school after being prompted to take a class in journalism by his adviser and English teacher Sue Smith. Later, he was named sports editor of his high school school newspaper, The Harbinger, where Terrell was amazed at how much journalism fit with many of his skills and interests. When it came to publishing his first story, a feature about the homecoming football game, Terrell did all he could to capture the thrill of the game. He recalls being in his homeroom class with other students when he first saw his published article.
“I remember when the newspaper stack arrived at our classroom,” Terrell said. “Someone in the class found out I had an article in it and word soon got out to the whole class. I sat on top of the desk in front of the classroom and autographed many of my classmates’ newspapers. They were excited and shocked that I was writing for the paper.”
The success of his first article motivated Terrell to continue creating content as the sports editor. Unfortunately, the journalism program at his school was cut due to budget concerns. Undeterred, Terrell tried to keep The Harbinger up and running by taking on all the necessary tasks himself: assembling the paper, writing every article, taking each photo, and designing the layout. However, it just wasn’t financially possible to publish that final issue.
“It felt like I had let the entire school down,” Terrell said. “I was disappointed to see the people I interviewed, who were so excited to be in the paper, not have the opportunity to physically see the newspaper and share it with their friends.”
The news was hard to swallow, but Terrell used it as motivation to fuel future journalistic endeavors. When he got to Hamline, he became part of The Oracle staff, Hamline’s student-led newspaper. There, Terrell takes on multiple sports stories per week. All his efforts again paid off when he placed fourth at the 2014 Associated Collegiate Press Best of Midwest Newspaper Convention for Best Sports Story on February 9, 2014. Here is a video of Terrell receiving his award. It is his goal to do all that is necessary to help The Oracle place first for best weekly tabloid at next year’s ACP Best of Midwest Newspaper Convention.
After interviewing such a wide-variety of people, Terrell has learned as much about the person telling the story as he has about life in general.
“I think one would be a fool not to learn from the stories they write,” Terrell said. “With my stories, I try to make sure I dig deep and find themes and morals so that not only I learn from my subjects’ experiences, but the readers can as well.”
However, Terrell’s interests involve much more than sports writing. He also volunteers at ThreeSixty Journalism, a nonprofit program at the University of St. Thomas that helps young Minnesotans develop journalism skills, and helps them tell stories about their lives and communities. It’s a program he went through as a student and one which he continues to give back to.
“I know without ThreeSixty I wouldn’t have reached the early success that I’ve had. Special thanks to my instructor there – Michael O’Donnell, a former sports writer for Chicago Tribune,” Terrell said. “I think some others would see it as a personal obligation, but I honestly see it as a pleasure and I am happy to help whenever I can.”
His involvement with ThreeSixty eventually led Terrell to pursue a position with the popular online news forum MinnPost, a nonprofit, online news source sustained by professional journalists, many of whom have decades of experience reporting in Minnesota. The executive director of ThreeSixty Journalism, Lynda McDonnell, brought the opportunity to his attention. MinnPost was looking for a freelance writer to add to their community sketchbook section. Terrell went through the application and was hired. Since then, he has published two articles on the MinnPost website.
“I want to cover stories that will have an impact on the world,” Terrell said. “Writing for MinnPost is special for me because I not only have an opportunity to write outside of sports, but I also get to cover things I wouldn’t normally cover, and for a broader audience. I also have an opportunity to highlight positive things people are doing for their community. I love that.”
With all the work and dedication Terrell has put into his writing, it seems only natural he would be recognized for it. The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) honored him with a Minnesota SPJ Student Scholarship which recognizes two outstanding individuals each year who show promise as future journalists.
“I believe Gino is one of the most qualified journalism students to be considered for this scholarship,” Suda Ishida, professor in communication studies and Terrell’s advisor, said. “Gino shows his dedication and seriousness in academic work, and in addition, his contributions to the Hamline campus as a student have been phenomenal.”
Additionally, Terrell is a Page Scholar, an honor bestowed to individuals who have served at least 50 hours of community service in a service-to-children project. He received a scholarship for volunteering at Hamline Elementary and helping manage a classroom with a third-grade teacher.
On June 23, 2014, Terrell will participate as a volunteer putter in the GEN Financial Golf Open on the behalf of the Page Education Foundation to fundraise for the organization. One June 27, 2014, Terrell and his family will attend the 2014-2015 Page Scholar Award Ceremony where he will receive his certificate for being renewed as a Page Scholar for the 2014-2015 school year.
Terrell has already shown that taking action and learning from experiences results in numerous opportunities, and he plans to continue to make the most of the opportunities ahead of him.
“I am most proud of Gino’s commitment to community service,” said mother Tawana Terrell. “He has a heart for the community. He tries to fill that void whenever he can by passing down all that he has learned by mentoring, volunteering for organizations like ThreeSixty and Hamline Elementary School just to name a few...Gino is always giving back by sharing his many talents through creating awareness or fundraising.”