Frank Porter Graham Honor Society recognizes two MJ-school students, one faculty member

Two graduate students and one faculty member from the UNC School of Media and Journalism were inducted into the Frank Porter Graham Graduate and Professional Student Honor Society for 2019. Lauren Houston ’13, ’19 (M.A.), Kyla Garrett Wagner ’15 (M.A.), ’19 (Ph.D.), and Associate Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Heidi Hennink-Kaminski were recognized at the society’s annual Graduate Student Recognition Celebration on Thursday, April 4.

Founded in 1993, the Frank Porter Graham Graduate and Professional Student Honor Society recognizes “outstanding service provided to the University and community” by graduate and professional students at UNC-Chapel Hill. Faculty, staff and friends of the University who have made “outstanding contributions to the development of graduate and professional education” at UNC are also recognized by the society.

As a double Tar Heel, Houston built on her undergraduate involvement with the Carolina Association of Black Journalists and has continued mentoring and career coaching with undergraduate students since 2013. Her volunteer efforts include resume critiques, interview prep, networking tips and helping CABJ with its recruitment strategy.

Houston has also held two officer positions in the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, and has distinguished herself as a hands-on leader. She created an undergraduate mentorship pipeline at UNC and facilitated interactions among black student organizations at UNC and Duke University.

As a founding member of the UNC Asian American and Pacific Islander Working Group, Houston leads the professional development team and connects with affiliated Asian-American undergraduate groups for mentoring.

“Lauren has been an exceptional member of the 2019 M.A. graduating class, contributing to the quality of the M.A. student experience here in the MJ-school,” said Hennink-Kaminski.

Wagner studies the relationship between First Amendment law and public health. Her research examines the relationship between speech-based regulations and public health, and her research interests include sexual health behavior and policy and First Amendment law. Wagner recently defended her dissertation, where she considered the value of sex speech and explored the disconnect between law and society to determine First Amendment protection for sex speech.

Wagner has contributed to the research efforts of some of the school’s most esteemed faculty members, including Associate Professor Tori Ekstrand.

“Kyla is one of those people who anticipates what is needed in the school,” Ekstrand said. “She anticipates what students need, she anticipates what faculty can use help with. She’s a really innovative research attendant — that’s what makes her more than qualified for a graduate student honor society.”

During her time as a doctoral candidate, Wagner has taught “MEJO 340: Introduction to Media Law” and “MEJO 379: Advertising and Public Relations Research.”

Hennink-Kaminski, who serves as the school’s senior associate dean for graduate studies, joined the faculty in 2006. Hennink-Kaminski is an associate professor in the school and teaches marketing, social marketing and strategic communication courses.

Hennink-Kaminski’s research focuses on interdisciplinary health communication, emphasizing the social marketing approach to promote healthy behaviors among individuals and communities. She was recognized by the Frank Porter Graham Graduate and Professional Student Honor Society as an honorary inductee.

“It speaks volumes about the quality of our students, the commitment of our faculty and the reputation of our graduate programs for two of our students to be selected for this prestigious honor society,” said Susan King, dean of the school. “We’re proud to have Lauren, Kyla and Heidi representing the school and demonstrating the strength of both our master’s and doctoral programs.”