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Richland Chronicle student journalists celebrated their awards with members of the DCCCD Board of Trustees and Chancellor Joe May.

​Contact: Ann Hatch or Morgan Christian

For immediate release — April 8, 2019

(DALLAS) — The job of a student journalist is like the job of a professional journalist — chasing leads, tracking down sources and occasionally facing criticism. But for journalists-in-training, some late-night deadlines include class projects or exams. And they also face some tough calls like choosing between a second job or taking on another loan to cover their tuition.

When student journalists from the Dallas County Community College District attended the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association Convention in Corpus Christi recently, they had a chance to practice their news skills and celebrate their work. Students from four DCCCD colleges received newspaper and literary magazine awards — recognition that reflects a tradition of excellence which also includes several Pacemakers, or national honors, called the “Pulitzer Prize” of student journalism.

Brookhaven, Eastfield, North Lake and Richland colleges each sent students and faculty members to the spring convention, where two- and four-year schools from across the state competed in contests spanning print, digital and broadcast media.

Judges evaluated previously published work, plus live competitions, in categories that included writing, photography, design and advertising. Students also had the opportunity to participate in workshops and network with professional journalists.

Established in 1909, TIPA is the oldest and one of the largest state collegiate press associations in the country.

Brookhaven College

Students from Brookhaven College won a total of 34 awards at the convention. Staff members from the Brookhaven Courier, the campus newspaper, swept all four categories in the individual overall excellence awards for two-year colleges, winning editor, reporter, photographer and designer of the year honors.

Courier staff also won 12 awards in the live competitions, a new school record. Live competitions allow students from two- and four-year schools to compete against each other directly.

For previously published work, the Courier won first place for overall newspaper design and overall website design in its division, plus second place for overall newspaper excellence. Brookhaven’s literary magazine, The Windmill, won honorable mention for overall design and overall excellence in its division.

Additionally, the Courier’s editor-in-chief, Jubenal Aguilar, won a Mike Warms Scholarship, which requires a series of letters, a high grade point average and several work samples. Mike Warms Scholarships are designated specifically for community college student journalists.

Courier adviser and lead journalism faculty member Daniel Rodrigue took home TIPA’s Adviser of the Year award. "It’s a huge honor, and it's cool to be added in some small way to the organization’s 110 years of prestigious history,” Rodrigue said.

Rodrigue was a student at Brookhaven before he transferred to the University of North Texas, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Mayborn School of Journalism. He worked at the Dallas Observer before joining the faculty at Brookhaven in 2010. He thinks community colleges are uniquely positioned to produce accomplished student journalists.

Rodrigue also is proud of his students’ recognition, which gives them a leg up when looking for jobs or transferring to four-year schools. But he is most impressed with the amount of dedication they have for their work.

“Often I need to tell them to slow down and tap the breaks,” Rodrigue said. “It’s really a job, and they’re doing it because they’re passionate about it. We don’t do journalism because it’s homework. There’s a passion to tell the stories that don’t get told.”

The Courier was founded in 1978, and it was a Pacemaker finalist in 2008. In 2012, the Courier won six TIPA awards. In 2013, it won eight. In recent years, the paper began increasing its awards totals, peaking in the thirties, where they have remained.

Eastfield College

Students from Eastfield College earned 38 TIPA awards this year. Its student newspaper, the Et Cetera, received 13 first-place awards in its division, including two honors for its website: first place for overall excellence and third place in overall design. The newspaper won second place for overall design and best in show and third place for overall excellence.

The Alternative, Eastfield’s literary magazine, won first place for overall excellence and overall design in its division.

Andrew Walter, the newspaper's copy editor, placed first in the live copy-editing contest and second in live headline writing. Photo editor Yesenia Alvarado won third place in the live news photo competition. Editor-in-chief Aria Jones received a Mike Warms Scholarship.

Sarah Sheldon, student media manager at Eastfield, is proud when students win TIPA awards, but she’s also glad they can gain more journalism experience at the convention.

“We do training for our staff during the year, but at conventions they have two entire days dedicated to attending sessions and workshops,” said Sheldon. “The goal is for each of them to learn something not only for personal growth but also applicable skills they can bring back to our newsroom.”

The EtCetera won Pacemakers in 2011, 2014 and 2017, and its website was a Pacemaker finalist last year, which reflected the publication’s shift to a digital-first mindset. Chuck Choate, a former advisor and Eastfield journalism professor, is a member of TIPA’s Adviser Hall of Fame.

Jubenal Aguilar, editor-in-chief of Brookhaven College’s newspaper, the Courier, won a Mike Warms Scholarship at the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association’s annual conference in Corpus Christi. (He is pictured here speaking before the DCCCD Board of Trustees.)

North Lake College

North Lake College students brought home 12 TIPA awards this year, including eight first-place awards. Staff for the North Lake News-Register and literary magazine Duck Soup won for previously published work in categories including op-ed page design, ad design, column writing and editorial cartoons.

News-Register photo editor Joanna Mikolajczak received first place honors for her photography; designer Justin Livingston won first-place awards for ad design and photo illustration.

“It was a highly competitive division of colleges that included St. Edwards University, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Texas Wesleyan University, Trinity University and more,” said Kathleen Stockmier, student publications manager. “The first-place awards our students received against all of the university journalists are quite exciting!”

The North Lake News-Register won a Pacemaker award in 2008 and was a Pacemaker finalist in 2013.

Richland College

Richland College students won 16 TIPA awards, including seven first-place awards for previously published work in categories for advertising, multimedia and sports writing. In the live contests, departing Richland Chronicle editor-in-chief Aly Rodrigues won third place in print advertising, and managing editor Obase-Wotta Kammonke won honorable mention for editorial writing.

“From an advisor standpoint, I’m so impressed with the work our students do,” said Erica Edwards, student media adviser and journalism program coordinator at Richland. “In a lab, if you’re studying biology, if an experiment flops, it’s not a big deal. We ask our students to practice a difficult craft in a very public arena. And we’re so thrilled and proud of their work.”

Edwards thinks the news skills her students learn and practice will always be relevant and in demand.

“The job of journalism has taken a hit recently, but I don’t see the world getting any less complex,” Edwards said. “Whatever will happen in next 50 years, there will always be a need for good journalists, even if we don’t know what the format will be, to help an increasingly busy world know what's going on.”

The Richland Chronicle won a Pacemaker in 2000, 2001, 2007 and 2016, and it was a Pacemaker finalist in 2003, 2006 and 2008.

Learn more about DCCCD’s communications program.

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