From the First Recipient to the Most Recent, Get to Know the Bluntees

A fancy dinner. Yachts and sailboats bob on the bay. Sometimes a costume theme, like the 70s, is evident in the attendees’ attire. Sitting around a table, attendees circulate printed papers of scanned documents and newspaper clips. Raucous laughter floats through the deck and out to the sails, whispering in the wind. Past, present and future are all represented at the table.

A gathering of multiple generations of writers, dissenters and journalists gather each year, often at the San Diego Yacht Club. 

The purpose for gathering? A Blunt Scholar has been chosen. 

Since the academic school year of 2014-15, a group of Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) alumni have rallied around one student selected each year to receive the prestige, mystique and honor of “The Blunt Scholar: The Riley-Fitch and McKinney Scholarship for Independent Scholarship, Journalism and Creative Writing.

 Since 2014, being initiated as a Blunt Scholar, or “Bluntee,” has not only led to continuing the legacy of the 14 journalists who started the school newspaper but also resulted in an even stronger force to be reckoned with: being part of the future of this writing community.

The Point spoke to three Blunt Scholars via email who shared their experiences in joining the Blunt legacy, learning from the Blunt committee and carrying the torch forward. 

Abby Hamblin was the first recipient of the blunt scholar title in 2014. Hamblin currently works for The San Diego Union-Tribune. Tony Le Calvez was the recipient in 2021-2022. Le Calvez is currently a student in PLNU’s Master’s of Writing program. And Reyna Huff was the recipient in 2022-2023. Huff is a third-year multimedia journalism student at PLNU. I was also a recipient in 2020-2021. 

Hamblin knew since high school she wanted to pursue journalism. Following in her grandparents’ footsteps to what was previously Cal Western’s campus,  Hamblin chose to seek the truth and learn from journalists at PLNU. Her reason for applying to be the first Blunt Scholar originally had to do with finances. But, she learned quickly that the lasting impact would be much more financial support.

“It was a new endowment and I didn’t know that I would eventually become part of a community of like-minded people who have welcomed me with such warmth into their growing circle of wonderful people,” Hamblin said. 

This growing circle of “Bluntees” took off in 2014 and each year they have offered a scholarship. Quickly, the scholarship began to be known not only for the money but the community and history of dissenters and storytellers.

“I’ve always had a difficult time following the rules or being told what to do, and I felt like the spirit of the Blunt really embodied that,” Le Calvez said. “A scholarship is cool too, don’t get me wrong, but I guessed correctly that the most valuable part of the Blunt is its community. The OG Bluntees and the previous award winners are a great resource to get advice from, ask questions to, and learn from.” 

While Le Calvez was not a journalism major, he joined the school newspaper during his freshman year of college and served as arts and entertainment editor at The Point during his time as an undergraduate student. In getting to know the Blunt community, Le Calvez said learning the history of the Blunt and the stories of the founders impacted how he views the power of his writing.

“It has made me unafraid to speak my opinion,” Le Calvez said. “I try not to write on anything I’m ignorant about (obviously), but when I have a hot take or controversial opinion on music or art, I’m not afraid to say it. The Bluntees made an entire paper doing that, a single article is [a piece of] cake.”

The current newspaper continues to navigate university policies and administration, not forgetting its roots in the underground newspaper that the founders started back in the mid-70s. 

Reyna Huff is currently the news editor at The Point and said the purpose of this scholarship is what drew her to apply.  

“I loved the idea of a scholarship dedicated to storytelling that challenges institutions and speaks truth to power,” Huff said. “I hoped my writing would reflect those ideas, but more importantly I thought that if I got the scholarship it would be a great way to make sure I was continuing to be Blunt-worthy in my writing.”

The accountability of the Blunt community and Blunt standards were especially important for Huff as she covered topics such as the Nazarene church, how PLNU is talking about Palestine and the care/lack of care for LGBTQ+ students on campus. 

“Storytelling matters. How you tell stories matters,” Huff said. “Whose voice is regarded as an expert, as an important source, that matters. The Blunt is about thinking outside the box, about creatively finding ways to resist, to me it represents all the best journalism has to offer.”

For Hamblin, the lasting impact of this community continues to be felt today, especially as new Bluntees are inducted. 

“It has been an honor to be welcomed by [the Blunt] and meet the new Bluntees,” Hamblin said. “This scholarship and the acknowledgment and encouragement from the Bluntees (and particularly the actions of Blunt mentor David Michael McKinney) gave me a huge boost of support and confidence as I was leaving college to work in journalism professionally. They have continued to support me and I am very grateful.” 

Hamblin’s advice for future Bluntees and students in general was simple but grounded in a call to action for truthful storytelling: “May students continue to use their brains, voices, pens and keyboards to push forward for progress, represent and uplift marginalized communities and empower their generation,” Hamblin said.

Regarding the Point newspaper and current students, Le Calvez said, in true Blunt-fashion, the caliber of work he hopes to see from The Point is set high.

“The paper was amazing when I joined and it’s even better now that I’m gone,” Le Calvez said. “I hope to continue to see this upward shift. Someday I would love to see an A&E section full of reviews of artists I’ve never heard of, but make incredible music.” 

In honor of Black History Month, Hamblin highlighted in her email interview this quote from Ida B. Wells—a journalist, activist, educator and researcher. “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”
As the dinner comes to a close and a toast to the next Bluntee rings out, the sun may have set but the light is far from fading.