Three journalism students win national awards

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Counselor Brandenburg holds a diplomate in Dreams Analyst, he poses for a light painting photo. Photo illstruation by J. Del Valle

A winner said awards speak for the advisers, the program and the students.

By Tania Flores

Three journalism students on The Ranger staff won individual awards at the Associated Collegiate Press convention Oct. 25-29 in Dallas.  

Journalism sophomore Zachary-Taylor Wright, web editor, received fourth place in the editorial opinion category with an editorial “Adjuncts aren’t end all be all.”

Wright’s work was among 10 finalists selected from 610 entries from students at two-year and four-year institutions.

The editorial was published Oct. 31, 2016, in The Ranger.

The editorial read in part, “The progressive shift from valuable and consistent professors and small class sizes to ensuring monetary results is a detriment to the quality of education.

“Adjunct faculty are denied job security, benefits and competitive pay but are expected to perform at the same standards as full-time faculty.”

This was the first time his work had been nominated for this award, he said.

“I’m excited about winning this award and getting recognized on a national level because it was not something I imagined,” Wright said.

Winning the award explains the high quality of the journalism program that comes from the experience and knowledge the advisers provide students, Wright said.

If students pay attention in their journalism courses and take them seriously, then there’s a benefit from it, he said.

Journalism sophomore James Dusek, production manager, received honorable mention in the multimedia news story category for “Hydrogen car project crosses finish line in Detroit.”

Dusek’s work, published May 16, was a finalist of 303 entries.

Dusek traveled with the SAC Motorsport team April 27-30 to Detroit to the Shell Eco-marathon.

The Motorsport team consists of students majoring in science and engineering fields. The team created a hydrogen fuel model car.

The competition was about fuel efficiency and not speed as the goal was to go the farthest on the least amount of fuel, Dusek said.

This project took two years to build as students worked through the evenings, weekends and holidays, he said.

Despite working countless hours, running into problems during the building and inspection process, the results lead the team to win third place in the Prototype Hydrogen Fuel Cell category.

“ACP is a prestigious organization, and it’s nice to be selected because I put a lot work in this story,” Dusek said.

The reporting process was intense because it took place over a four-day period at a convention in Detroit, he said.

The reporting process consisted of non-stop reporting as he filled three reporter journals, Dusek said.

Going through the collected material proved to be a challenge in determining the best route to take to tell the story, he said.

“I had experience with investigative reporting but this particular story was completely different reporting then I’ve ever done before,” Dusek said.

It was validating to see that coming together and culminate in an important prize, he said.

The journalism-photography program gives the training to hear and tell people’s stories, he said.

When writing is important, there’s value to gain from an intense program such as the journalism program at this college, Dusek said.

Journalism sophomore Jessica Del Valle, Pulse editor, received honorable mention in the category for an environmental portrait, “Trusting the unconscious.”

Del Valle’s work was one of 10 finalists among 767 entries.

The photo and story were published in The Ranger on April 17.

Del Valle interviewed and photographed Counselor James Brandenburg, diplomate in analytical psychology (dream analysis).

“Winning this award makes me feel accomplished in the two years at this college,” Del Valle said. “It’s cool to leave with a national award.”

With the advisers’ constructive criticism and her enthusiasm for learning, her work improved and she became a better journalism student, she said.

She believes she was considered a finalist because the motion and light technique draws attention into the photo, Del Valle said.

She took the photo in the program’s photography studio in Loftin Student Center with the help of Tricia Buchhorn, lab tech and photo adviser, and journalism sophomore Brianna Rodrigue, photo editor.

Del Valle said she recommends the journalism-photography  program because the advisers encourage students to continuously do better.

As students’ work becomes better throughout the semester, the process also allows students to build a network of people, a portfolio and references, she said.

No one from the Ranger staff attended the convention to accept the awards.

Entries were judged by professional journalists or other professionals with involvement in the category.

“The Associated Collegiate Press has a mission to educate and recognize the work of student journalist, to improve the quality of student media and to foster careers in media,” according to


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