WEST JEFFERSON — For the past 60 years, the Hearst Journalism Awards Program has been one of the most prestigious honors in college journalism. This year, Jefferson native Lucas Pruitt found himself with a third-place finish at the state level for multimedia.

Pruitt, who will begin his junior year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Fall, was surprised and humbled by the honor.

He said a faculty member approached him in February with only days left before the submission deadline, asking if he could turn in something. Not wanting to pass on the opportunity, Pruitt compiled a webpage based around his love of mountain biking and turned it over.

Dubbed “Ride NC,” Pruitt’s submission acts as both a love letter to something he is passionate about, but also an expression for his love of photography and video. Ever since he found his mother’s camera at 8-years-old, Pruitt said he has had a love of film and photography, and wants it to be his career.

After winning the bronze at the state level, already an accomplishment in itself, Pruitt learned he had scored high enough to earn a trip to the national competition.

“I was the only one there who had not already graduated at this point,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt earned an honorable mention at the competition, which he said raised the eyebrows of judges at the event.

With three more opportunities to enter the competition, including one the year after he graduates, Pruitt said he plans on taking advantage of the opportunity and add more to his resume. He said that after college, he wants to work with his passions, either for a company like Red Bull Media with the outdoors adventure market or a faith-based organization such as Samaritan’s Purse.

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