Shannon Schrecengost of Freelend was one of a team of four researchers from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma who received an Emmy Award for a documentary about drugs and guns.
Schrecengost, 22, a 2005 graduate of South Whidbey High School, was honored recently at the 46th Annual Northwest Regional Emmy Awards ceremony, held this year in Snoqualmie.
She, two other PLU students and their professor, won a College Division Emmy for their 30-minute film “Illicit Exchanges: Canada, the U.S. & Crime,” which explores the cross-border effects of the guns-for-drugs trade.
The documentary competed against projects from colleges and universities in Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
The film also received honorable mention at the 2009 Broadcasting Education Association Festival of Media Arts, and a First Place Grand Prize Award from the National Broadcasting Society.
Starting in January 2008, the team, with Schrecengost as assistant producer, focused on firearms from the United States being taken into Canada and exchanged for drugs.
Schrecengost interviewed drug users and gang members in both countries, and documented the impact of their activities on a number of communities on both sides of the border.
“It was eye-opening on so many levels,” Schrecengost said, “seeing how closely the two countries resemble each other, and the dark underworld to it all.”
Particularly revealing were her interviews with addicts.
“Just getting to know them helped me to confront some of my own stereotypes,” she said. “Every junkie you see in the street is someone’s child.”
Schrecengost, the daughter of Cris and the late Steve Schrecengost of Freeland, graduated from PLU last month with a degree in communications with an emphasis on print journalism.
She’s currently in Portland, Ore., where she will spend a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer. She’ll work with a children’s book bank in Portland, an outreach program providing reading material to youngsters who might otherwise be unable to obtain it.
After that, she said she hopes to use her journalistic skills in nonprofit or community-service work.
Schrecengost said making the documentary showed her that “doing social research isn’t as difficult as some people think.”
“It’s important work,” she said. “People should just look for grants and go for it.”