Eight University of La Verne communications students and recent alumnae were recognized as winners and finalists in the Society of Professional Journalists 2014 Mark of Excellence Awards Saturday at the Region 11 spring conference in San Francisco.
Senior journalism major Helen Arase’s photographs “Obama declares part of San Gabriel Mountains a national monument” and “Leopards lose third straight game” won first place in General News Photography and Sports Photography categories, respectively.
She photographed the U.S. president as he signed an executive order designating part of the San Gabriel Mountains a national monument and captured the moment when an opponent tackled a La Verne football player in the end zone.
“I was just doing this pretty much for the experience, and if you get recognition, that’s great, and if you don’t, just keep doing it,” Arase said. “It was really nice to have people excited for you when you do well.”
Alumna Katie Madden’s 2014 senior project, “The Courage to Heal,” published in the Campus Times, won first place in the In-Depth Reporting category.
Madden’s articles explore the lives of survivors of sexual assault on college campuses and how their universities handled these cases.
“It made me really happy and excited to know that my piece had an impact on someone,” Madden said. “I felt that all the work I put into my stories finally paid off.”
Alumna Mariela Patron’s 2014 senior project “Demystifying Disabilities” won first place in the Feature Writing category.
Her three-part series focuses on ULV students with disabilities and how the University has adapted to meet the needs of these students.
“I wanted to do a senior project that would challenge me as a reporter and my investigative skills and writing skills,” Patron said. “Honestly, winning anything was not really ever on my mind. I just wanted to challenge myself and do the best work possible that I’ve ever done in my career as a journalist.”
Alumna Jetske Wauran’s documentary “Depression: The Hidden Struggle” covered the effects depression has on college students and was a finalist in the Television In-Depth Reporting category and the winner of the Television News and Feature Photography category.
Junior journalism major Kristina Bugante and Patron’s coverage of ULV adjunct faculty’s attempt to unionize in 2013 and 2014 was a finalist in the General News Reporting category.
Sophomore broadcast television major Scott Feuerhelm, senior broadcast journalism major Christian Reina and senior broadcast journalism major Armando Tapia collaborated on their documentary recognizing the life and achievements of ceramic artist Harrison McIntosh.
They were finalists in the Television Feature Reporting category.
The finalists were selected for exemplifying strong journalism practices in their region, which includes chapters in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Guam and Mariana Islands.
Arase, Bugante and Madden attended the conference as representatives from the University.
“Hearing our name being called among big-name schools was pretty exciting,” Madden said.
“It feels really great to be recognized by an important national organization like SPJ,” she said.
ULV media entered the small school division of the competition.
SPJ is one of the nation’s oldest and largest journalism organizations founded in 1909 to encourages the free practice of journalism, high standards of ethical practice.
Every year, professional journalists and journalism students in the United States submit their best published and broadcasted works, and SPJ awards the Mark of Excellence to those who display the highest journalistic standards.
There are 12 regions, and each region selects and judges finalists based on their stories, photographs and videos.
First-place winners from each region will move on to the national competition.
National winners will be recognized Sept. 18 to 20 at the Excellence in Journalism conference in Orlando, Florida.
Emily Lau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.