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Class Assignment Spawns New Magazine, Wins Student $5,000

May 7, 1986

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) _ A family illness provided the inspiration for an Ole Miss student to create a new magazine for grandparents that will appear nationwide.

Although the idea for Grandparents Magazine didn’t earn Ronda Gooden an ″A″ in class, she did receive $5,000.

Ms. Gooden was in her family’s Clarksdale home one weekend, struggling with a project for her University of Mississippi journalism class, when ″suddenly the idea came up,″ she said.

″The summer before, my grandmother had suffered a stroke, and moved in with us,″ said Ms. Gooden, 21. ″I spent a lot of time with her, and that got me thinking about the idea.″

She envisioned a magazine that covers issues not addressed in other magazines directed toward older readers.

The project became a property of the Iowa-based Meredith Corp., which publishes 11 magazines, including Better Homes and Garden and the Ladies Home Journal.

The first Grandparents Magazine will appear in January, with a press run of 400,000.

″I saw the ‘Grandparents’ title and we had been trying to think of a way to enter that market,″ said Meredith President Jim Autry. ‴Grandparents’ has the emotional connection that other magazines don’t.″

The selection of a student project for professional development ″is a first for us,″ Autry said, adding that he was pleased the idea came from a student from his alma mater.

Earlier this month, Autry presented Ms. Gooden the check for her idea at a ceremony.

Ms. Gooden’s professor, Samir Hosni, took the classwork to Autry after two course projects won national collegiate awards.

She worked two semesters on her idea, researching a market for readers, designing a prototype magazine issue and coming up with article ideas. Although she received a B-plus for her assignment, Hosni gave her what he called ″the ultimate compliment a journalism professor can give: she never asked for an extension of her deadlines.″

Hosni said the success of Ms. Gooden’s project surprised her.

″When I told her she was getting a check for $5,000, she almost fainted,″ Hosni said.

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