CCAC student newspaper receives prestigious national award and numerous state media awards


Members of The Voice staff, front row (left to right): Tyler Smith, Claire Kleffman, Rebekah Waldron. Back row: David Heilman, Cole Kleffman, Bill Bailey, Gabriela Bosonetto, Tricia McAfee, Jenna Korth, Marissa Pekular, Van Alarcon, Eva Koumoundouros.

CCAC Public Relations

CCAC student Samantha Hrubes with her certificate for 2019 Cartoon of the Year.

Community College of Allegheny County student Samantha Hrubes received an honorable mention award from the Associated Collegiate Press for the 2019 Cartoon of the Year in the Comic Panel/Strip category for three comic strips published in The Voice student newspaper of CCAC North Campus and West Hills Center. Hrubes competed against students at four-year institutions in the national contest, which does not offer separate categories for community colleges. This is the second time in recent years that a CCAC student has won this award.

CCAC also recently brought home multiple state awards for excellence in student journalism. The Voice received 17 Student Keystone Media Awards (Division III) for 2020, including seven first-place awards. It is the highest number of awards to date the newspaper has received. The college has also reclaimed its title as the winningest community college newspaper in Pennsylvania, having earned more awards than any other community college in the state.

Awards span multiple categories, including General News, Personality Profile, Sports Story, Editorials, Feature Photography, News Photo and, for the first time, Video Story. The Voice again swept the entire category for Graphic Design/Illustration, winning all three awards in that category for the second year in a row. Thirteen CCAC students are award winners, including two students from West Hills Center.

The newspaper is entirely student-led and staffed by nearly 30 student volunteers, who do all the writing, editing, researching and page design. It is also self-funded through advertising revenue, not from CCAC or student fees, according to Rob Velella, administrative advisor who oversees the publication.

“This year, more than ever before, we have a truly self-motivated, self-starting team. I’m extremely proud of these students and their hard work,” said Velella. “This experience provides them with opportunities to develop transferable skills, from writing and editing to teamwork and meeting deadlines. It’s a high-quality, high-integrity organization with an exceptional product.”

The Voice received the following first-place awards: General News: Attorney General sues Pgh. Water Authority over lead concerns by Marissa Pekular; Editorial: Success tips from the team; Journalism is on the rise; You don’t need college by Rebekah Waldron; Cartoon/Graphic: Crisis Center North partners with CCAC North; IT: Chapter Two is more funny than frightening; Pirates in turmoil as season comes to a close by Eva Koumoundouros; Sports Photo: Emperors skate for success, on and off ice by Claire Kleffman; Feature Photo: West Hills student awarded prestigious scholarship by Van Alarcon; News Photo: Pittsburgh parks propose tax by Van Alarcon; and Video Story: West View Hub offers a space for community by Claire Kleffman.

The Voice also received the following second-place awards: Ongoing News Coverage: Crises in higher education: Low enrollment and sudden closings by Rebekah Waldron, David Heilman and Cole Kleffman; Sports Story: Emperors skate for success on and off ice by Gabriela Bosonetto; Cartoon/Graphic Illustration: Up in Smoke by Megan Kukieza; Feature Photo: PA Considers Raising Minimum Wage by David Heilman; News Photo: Non-credit classes offer learning opportunities (and pierogies) by Claire Kleffman.

In addition, The Voice received the following Honorable Mentions: General News: Pittsburgh parks propose tax by Cole Kleffman; Personality Profile: Female student pursues game design in male-dominated industry by Marissa Wiesenbach; Editorial: A closing message from an outgoing Editor-in-Chief; Laugh while you can; Celebrity worship is toxic by Aidan Segal; Review: Forest of Tygers releases new album by Kristen Kaelin; Cartoon/Graphic Illustration: Crosby and Pens seek another ring; Dropping Student Debt; Veterans Have Options by Morgan E. Cuda.

Sponsored by the Pennsylvania News Media Association Foundation, the Student Keystone Media Awards contest recognizes high school and college journalism that provides relevance, integrity and initiative in serving readers.