Homecoming week at UL Lafayette is a tradition, unlike any other.
Two UL Lafayette alumni were a part of the team that won the first-ever Pulitzer Prize for The Advocate. Jennifer Brown ’96 and Tiffany Segura ’12 both had a hand in the success of the winning piece titled "Tilting the Scales," a report on the racial impacts of Louisiana’s unique laws allowing juries to convict defendants without a unanimous vote. Brown, who is the Executive News Editor, and Segura, who is the Night News Editor, worked with a team of journalists, graphic designers, and animators to create this ground-breaking piece. The two have had different journeys that led them to their careers today, but both credit their success in journalism to the professors that they had at UL Lafayette.
Brown began her career in journalism in high school as the editor of her high school newspaper. Originally from New Orleans, she chose UL Lafayette because she liked the University and her mother attended as well. As a student, she was involved with several organizations including Alpha Omicron Pi Fraternity and the Vermilion Newspaper. After graduation, she held jobs at news outlets across Louisiana before eventually landing her current job at The Advocate.
Segura, who is originally from Loreauville, chose UL Lafayette because she also loved the campus and didn’t want to move too far from home. As a student, she was involved with the Vermilion Newspaper as well as a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. While in school, she interned at The Daily Advertiser as a copy editor. Here, she met Brown for the first time and they worked together during her internship. Once Brown moved to The Advocate, she brought Segura with her. “She’s one of the best editors I’ve ever worked with,” said Brown.
Even though the two attended UL Lafayette at different times, they both had a professor that shaped them into the journalists that they are today. Dr. Robert Buckman taught both Brown and Segura as undergraduate students. “His class was one of the best experiences I had at UL Lafayette,” said Brown. Segura credits him with teaching her everything that she knows about copy editing. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without him,” said Segura.
The Advocate initially published "Tilting the Scales" as the Legislature began debating a bill that would allow Louisianans to vote to change the state constitution and require unanimous verdicts in the future. As a result of The Advocate’s investigative reporting, voters overwhelmingly supported changing the law. “This is what journalism is all about,” said Brown.
Both Brown and Segura were extremely excited to find out that the hard work of their team was being recognized by a Pulitzer Prize win. Overall, the biggest prize for The Advocate was when the law in Louisiana was changed. “It shows that journalism matters, especially local and investigative journalism,” said Segura. Brown and Segura are both prime examples of what can happen when you work hard to achieve your goals.
Photo: Tiffany Segura '12 (left) and Jennifer Brown '96 (right).