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April 21, 2018

Joe Verkennes, Director of Marketing and Communications
Monroe County Community College
1555 S. Raisinville Rd., Monroe, MI  48161
(734) 384-4207 (O), (419) 343-3063 (M) 


MONROE, Mich. – Eleven different members of the staff of the Agora, Monroe County Community College’s student newspaper, combined to win a total of 24 awards at the Michigan Community College Press Association annual conference earlier this month at Central Michigan University.

Among the eight first-place awards were General Excellence, awarded to the newspaper staff, and Student Journalist of the Year, won by Agora Editor Vanessa Ray, who took home a total of seven awards.

Besides the top individual award, Ray won first place in Personality Profile, Video Production and News Photo, second place in Front Page Design and Headline Writing, and third place in Photo Essay.

The Personality Profile award was for a story on retiring English professor Cheryl Johnston; the News Photo award was for a picture from the MCCC Veteran’s Day celebration; and the Photo Essay award was for coverage of MCCC’s graduation ceremony.

Other first place awards won by The Agora staff included Original Cartoon, by Cheyenne Abel; Best Blog, by Sawyer Jackson, and best Multimedia Reporting, won by a team of four reporters for their online coverage of the 2017 Honors Reception – Joseph Abrams, Miranda Gardner, Leah Thomas and James Quick.

Abel and Gardner both won three individual awards, and Quick, Thomas, and Carla Cohen each won two awards.

Dan Shaw, MCCC journalism professor and advisor to the Agora, said this is the best performance by the Agora staff in his 10 years at the college.

“We won more awards in 2010, when the contest was divided into two divisions and we only competed against the smaller colleges,” Shaw said. “But this is by far the most awards we’ve won since they went to one division for most of the awards in 2011.”

For the General Excellence and Student Journalist of the Year awards, the competition is divided into two divisions. The Agora competes in Division II, against colleges with fewer than 5,000 students. All community college journalists in the state compete in the other categories.

Shaw said Ray’s seven awards is also the best performance by an individual from MCCC at the annual awards ceremony.

“Vanessa is an outstanding student journalist, so I’m not surprised at her success,” he said.  “I think the most impressive thing about it is the variety of categories. She won for writing, photography, design and video – that’s pretty amazing.”

Here are the awards won by the Agora staff for the contest year that ran from March 1, 2017 to Feb. 28, 2018.

First place:
General Excellence, Division II, the Agora staff.
Student Journalist of the Year, Division II, Vanessa Ray.
Best Blog, Sawyer Jackson.
Multimedia Reporting: Miranda Gardner, James Quick, Leah Thomas, Joseph Abrams.
News Photo, Vanessa Ray.
Original Cartoon, Cheyenne Abel.
Personality Profile, Vanessa Ray.
Video Production, Vanessa Ray.

Second place:
Best Blog, Miranda Gardner.
Column, Serious, Carla Cohen.
Front Page Design, Vanessa Ray.
Headline Writing, Vanessa Ray
Illustration, Cheyenne Abel.
News Photo, Miranda Gardner.
News Website, the Agora staff.
Original Comic – Entertainment, Cheyenne Abel.
Sports News Story, Taylor Dively.

Third Place:
Feature Photo, Carla Cohen.
Photo Essay, Vanessa Ray.
Personality Profile, Cassidy Maier.

Honorable Mention:
Feature Story, Miranda Gardner.
Front Page Design, Leah Thomas.
Critical Review, James Quick.
Column, Humor, McKinley Striggow.

About Monroe County Community College

Founded in 1964, Monroe County Community College is a public, two-year institution supported by tax monies from Monroe County, educational funds from the State of Michigan and student tuition.  

The college’s mission is to enrich and transform lives by providing opportunities and excellence in higher education.  The Main Campus is located at 1555 South Raisinville Road, Monroe, Mich., 48161, with easy access to Toledo and Detroit.  The Whitman Center is located at 7777 Lewis Ave.,Temperance, Mich., 48182, near the Ohio-Michigan Border.  Detailed information about MCCC is available at