Quo Vadis, Middlesex College’s student newspaper, won 12 awards – including three first-place finishes – in the 2021 New Jersey Press Association (NJPA) annual competition.
“We are proud of our student journalists,” Middlesex College President Mark McCormick said in a prepared statement. “Our student newspaper is a central organ of communication for the Middlesex College community. I look forward eagerly to reading the new issue each Wednesday during the academic year. I am glad to see that the hard work of our students is being recognized by the NJPA.”
The first place wins were for overall website, critical writing and editorial writing.
The overall website award was presented to Richa Nayak of North Brunswick, Shakera Blakney of New Brunswick, Tatwa Vaidya of Edison and Caprice Benifield-Sanchez of North Brunswick.
The judges noted it was a very strong website, with “clean design. Easy to navigate. Good entry point for user engagement. This is a really nice website,” according to the statement.
Cassandra Maisonet of North Brunswick won first place for critical writing in the Arts and Entertainment section for “GoPuff is a Last Resort for Snack Cravings; Netflix Delivers Again.”
“Great example of knowing your audience,” the judges said, according to the statement. “Relevant topics to the college crowd and the writer gives a first-person experiential account.”
Enrique Medel of New Brunswick, Austin Reinhart of the Fords section of Woodbridge, and Carolina Fus of Parlin also took first place in the Editorial Writing category for “The Issues with Social Media,” which was also awarded second place in the opinion writing category.
“Great insight on a hot-button topic,” the judges reported, according to the statement.
Two February 2021 issues took second place, one for the entire staff in general excellence, which cited Gabrielle Ignotis of Spotswood, Benifield-Sanchez, Blakney and Vaidya. The other was for layout and design, presented to Benifield-Sanchez, Blakney, Delaila Aguilar of Edison and Jazmine Brown of Piscataway.
Julia Block of Sayreville took second place for “Color Me Mine Has Fun For All; Disney Blog Helpful For Park Visits”; Benifield-Sanchez came in second with “Author Turns Passion into a Career”; Block, Jada Davis of the Avenel section of Woodbridge and Harsh Godhani of South Brunswick were awarded second place for their editorial, “Struggling Builds Character”; Blakney took second place for the news story “MCC Forms DEI Advisory Board; George Street Playhouse Is Back and Online Only.”
Third place was presented to Sanjana Butala of New Brunswick for “Can Science Become God?; Student Encourages Others to Find Ikigai,” and “Americans Must Vote” by Blakney, Maisonet and Bettina Dimache of Edison.
English Professor Melissa Edwards, the faculty advisor, said she was thrilled with the results.
“Sometimes students become too insulated in the thought that the paper is just for their satisfaction, to fulfill a grade requirement for a class, or that the paper is only for the people reading it on our campus,” she said in the statement. “In reality, a college paper is a training ground for all students of any major to practice effective mass communication. Less obvious, but just as important, a school newspaper allows students to practice working as a team, which is also excellent preparation for any career path. Quo Vadis enables students to learn how to write for media, maintain websites, and master other multimedia tools. Over the years, we have even made videos and won. We hope to expand to a podcast for this upcoming year and continue to try to improve the quality of Quo Vadis writing. NJPA helps us reinforce the purpose of a student newspaper and honors students who strive for excellence in their submissions each week.”