Cheers to Everson Taveras, the first winner of the Barney Gallagher Journalism Scholarship. (See story on page 1.)
The scholarship is not new but the name is. Sponsored by The Eagle-Tribune, it has been awarded for many years by Northern Essex Community College.
This year, the award was renamed in honor of Barney Gallagher, the longtime editor of the Gazette. Barney — it’s hard for those who knew him and worked with him to call him anything else — began practicing journalism in 1936, as a teen sports correspondent at Haverhill High. He was still at it almost until the end. His last column just a few weeks before his death in April at age 90.
Somewhere he’s smiling because Taveras’ life story is just the kind of story Barney loved to tell.
Taveras was born 20 years ago in New York and lived there for his first 10 years. He then bounced from Georgia, to Florida and to the Dominican Republic.
A year ago, he was back in New York and working at a series of low-paying jobs.
Then his mother decided to move in with a cousin in Lawrence and invited him to come along.
He had never been to Massachusetts but decided to take the risk. “I didn’t have anything to lose, so I went with her,” he said.
Now it was time to think about his future. He was thinking about college when he discovered NECC’s Haverhill campus.
“It was like a light at the end of the tunnel. I knew that this is where I wanted to stay.” He enrolled in NECC and moved to Haverhill with his mother.
At Northern Essex, he joined the school’s award-winning student newspaper, the Observer. His first piece was a review of “The Rum Diary,” the story of a hard-drinking journalist, played by Johnny Depp.
He has gone on to become a news editor and copy editor.
Observer advisor Mary Jo Shafer praised Taveras as dedicated and hard-working.
“He has an innate talent both journalistically and in creative writing,” she said. “He’s very descriptive. It’s nice to see a student with that natural ability who has the motivation that he does.”
Taveras is thinking about pursuing a bachelor’s degree after NECC and isn’t sure whether he will make journalism a career, though he says he’s intrigued by the idea.
The news business can always use people with spunk and talent, but we wish Taveras well whatever path he follows.
If he does choose journalism, he’ll know he is following in the footsteps of a real pro.