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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 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.

She has been warned that the finished magazine will look ″completely different″ from her prototype, but Ms. Gooden said the recognition is enough for her. That, and the free subscription to the magazine.

″Winning for a B-plus project gives me hope,″ she said. ″You don’t always have to get an A to get ahead.″

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