J&PR students, faculty accumulate numerous honors in 5 years

By Jose Olivar

Chico State Journalism & Public Relations continues to build on its reputation as a prestigious program, with its students and faculty members collecting more than 65 awards for academics and research since 2010.

Headshot of Quinn Western Quinn Western won multiple awards during her time at Chico State including the Sacramento Press Club’s Earl Squire Behrens Scholarship. Photo Courtesy: Austin Pruitt with Yellow Board Studios

Nearly half of the awards the department has received in the past five years were earned in national competitive selections. Several scholarships and awards students have acquired are from prominent organizations such as Dow Jones, ProPublica and Google.

According to Mozes Zarate, a multiple-award recipient, alumni who have left good impressions in organizations where they have interned have made it easier for current students to reach out and get opportunities.

“There are a lot of past students who treaded ground and made things more accessible for the rest of us,” he said.

Zarate received the Chips Quinn Scholarship and the Knight-CUNY Summer Internship Program, before graduating in May 2015. The Chips Quinn Scholarship allowed him to participate in a one-week training in Nashville, Tenn.

The Knight-CUNY award gave him the opportunity to complete a 10-week internship for The Wall Street Journal in New York during summer 2015.

Zarate also credits J&PR faculty for helping him learn about scholarship opportunities.

“I would have never applied to those internships if Mark [Plenke] or Susan [Wiesinger] hadn’t said ‘Hey, those things exist’ and encouraged me to give it a shot,” he said.

As for students currently in the program who are trying to forge the same path that so many alumni before them have navigated, Zarate said the key is putting themselves in a position to be nominated for an award.

“It [helps] being oblivious and just applying for stuff,” he said. “You really don’t know if you’re what they’re looking for until you apply.”

Here is the full list of awards and recipients in Chico State’s Journalism and PR program from 2010-2015:

Student awards

42 total awards

  • 20 national, competitively selected
  • 9 statewide, competitively selected
  • 13 Chico State, competitively selected

Asian American Journalists Association's VOICES Program: 2013, Tercius Bufete

Cengage Learning Student Speech Video Contest, Grand Prize: 2014, Morgan Dixon

Chips Quinn Scholar: 2015, Katrina Cameron, Contra Costa Times; Mozes Zarate, The Wall Street Journal

Chris Hilbert Outstanding Chico State Friend Award: 2014, Aleksander Irvin

Sacramento Press Club’s Earl Squire Behrens Scholarship: 2014, Quinn Western

Google Journalism Fellowship: 2014, Benjamin Mullin

Chico State’s Jackie Faris-Rees Student Leadership Award: 2015, Aleksander Irvin

James Foley Memorial Scholarship in International Photojournalism: 2015, Emily Teague

Knight-CUNY Summer Internship Program: 2015, Mozes Zarate, The Wall Street Journal

Chico State’s Lieutenant Robert Merton Rawlins Award: 2010, Skylar Young; 2011, Lauren Beaven; 2012, Jenna Valdespino; 2014, Aleksander Irvin and Quinn Western; 2015, Dylan Wakefield

Front profile of Aleksander Irvin Aleksander Irvin received the 2015 Jackie Faris-Rees Student Leadership Award. Photo Courtesy: Alek Irvin

National Association of Black Journalists Visual Task Force Scholarship: 2014, Quinn Western

Naughton Fellowship: 2014, Benjamin Mullin, The Poynter Institute

Online News Association Student Newsroom: 2013, Tercius Bufete, Atlanta, Ga.; 2014, Quinn Western, Chicago; 2015, Ernesto Rivera, Los Angeles

Chico State’s College of Communication & Education Outstanding Student Leader Award: 2011, Megan McCourt; 2012, Sara Nielsen

ProPublica’s Emerging Reporters Program: 2015, Gabriel Sandoval

Scripps Howard Foundation Award at Chico State: 2014, Mozes Zarate, The Sacramento Bee; 2015, Jose Olivar, The Sacramento Bee

Scripps Howard Roy W. Howard National Collegiate Reporting Competition: 2010, Jennifer Siino, Japan.

Scripps Howard Foundation Hispanic Link News Service: 2012, Almendra Carpizo; 2013, Juniper Rose

Scripps Howard Foundation Semester in Washington: 2010, Megan McCourt