YJI reporters Mugdha Gurram of Connecticut and Sydney Hallett of Missouri are two of the 10 young writers selected to take part in the prestigious Young Spurs program this year at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.
GRAPEVINE, Texas, U.S.A. – Two Youth Journalism International students are among the 10 top young writers in America selected to attend a prestigious national writing conference in Texas this weekend.
Each July, some of America’s finest journalists and non-fiction writers gather together in outside of Dallas for the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. They meet to learn and share ideas, to hone their craft and forge relationships with kindred spirits.
Mayborn judges selected YJI students Mugdha Gurram, 16, of Connecticut and Sydney Hallett, 18, of Missouri for the Young Spurs program.
Young Spurs, who are selected through a national writing contest, win admission to the Mayborn conference and a pre-conference, full day session with an acclaimed author who serves as a mentor and writing coach. In a small group setting, they work with the author to improve their own writing.
This year, the Young Spurs will spend their workshop with biographer James McGrath Morris, whose newest work is Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press.
Morris is also a plenary speaker during the conference, which this year follows the theme of “The Great Divide.” Keynote speakers are writers Barbara Ehrenreich, Anne Fadiman and Alex Tizon.
“We’re thrilled that two of our finest young journalists will be able to take part in this amazing conference and learn from some of the world’s best nonfiction writers,” said Jackie Majerus, executive director of Youth Journalism International, an educational nonprofit based in Connecticut with students worldwide.
According to Majerus, the Mayborn’s friendly, welcoming atmosphere helps students feel comfortable and part of ‘the Tribe,’ as Mayborn attendees call themselves.
“The connections they’ll make, the memories they’ll share and the lessons they’ll take home with them are second to none,” said Steve Collins, board president of YJI. “We’re grateful that the University of North Texas and its Mayborn School of Journalism makes this incredible experience possible for young writers.”
To be selected for the Mayborn, high school or community college students must submit an original piece of unpublished non-fiction about a person or place that made a significant impact on a community. Judges then select the best from those written entries, which come from all over the nation.
Winning entries are later published in The Dallas Morning News.
The Young Spurs contest is now in its fifth year. Four different Youth Journalism International students have won places at the conference for each of the last four years.
Your tax-deductible contribution can help support Sydney Hallet, Mugdha Gurram
and students worldwide through this nonprofit at