Four Collegiate staff writers were given six awards on Friday by the Michigan Press Association for work that they did last year. Justin Dawes, Greg Wickliffe, Natalie Hillmann and Miranda Haddix placed in multiple categories in the annual Better Newspaper Contest put on by the MPA.
Hillmann won first place out of 64 entries in the Feature Story category with her piece ‘To another world and back again’ which ran in The Collegiates first ever magazine at the end of the winter semester in 2012. The story details and explains her experience with a psychotic break and the hospitalization, recovery and stigma that goes along with such an experience.
“What a brave woman to share this story,” one of the judges commented on the article, “To open a door most would shut with a deadbolt and to share so freely.”
Hillmann went through her experience with mental health in 2010.
“I thought that by continuing to hide it, I was just perpetuating the stigma and I just thought that sharing my story could somehow, in some part relieve that a little bit,” Hillman said.
Hillman, in the story, aims to bring a greater understanding to the mental health issues that many face.
“I wanted to give them hope and I wanted to be a positive voice,” Hillman said, “ because there’s so much negativity surrounding mental illness.”
Hillmann also won second place with her review of nearby coffee shops in ‘The quest for a great cup of coffee’. She’s currently helping flood victims in Colorado with AmeriCorp, a volunteer organization, and plans to finish her degree in cultural anthropology at University of Michigan once she’s done at AmeriCorp.
Wickliffe won two awards, both in the Sports Feature category. He won an honorable mention for ‘Never give up’, a story about an athlete confined to a wheelchair, and first place with ‘Built Raider tough’, about a Grand Rapids Community College athlete who overcame cancer.
“I was just focusing on writing the best story I could, to do the story justice.” Wickliffe says of the article.
Wickliffe now has a part-time job working for MLive, and hopes to transfer to Central Michigan University next fall.
Haddix, who was Photo Editor last year, received third place with her feature photo that ran with the cover story of winter semester’s Collegiate magazine.
“I was intrigued by this picture because of the planning that had to come beforehand in order to make it happen.” the judge said of the photo.
Haddix took about 100 shots to get the one she wanted. The picture, which ran with a story about the benefits of spending time in nature for students, features a beleaguered student, a desk and various school supplies in a natural, wooded setting.
“It probably took about 3 hours,” Haddix said about the photo shoot. She graduated from GRCC last year with an associates of fine art in photography, and is planning to enroll at either Columbia College in Chicago or Grand Valley State University next year.
Dawes, Editor-in-Chief last year, won first place with his editorial entitled ‘Student Congress disbandment for the best’, which happened during September of 2012. The judge made specific note of the quality suggestions Dawes made for where the student government could go from there.
“I’m really excited for everyone at The Collegiate who won. The people who won definitely worked really hard and deserved it, so I’m very happy,” Dawes said.
He’s currently attending University of Michigan and plans on joining the Peace Corp once he finishes his degree.
Full results of this year’s competition can be viewed here at the MPA’s website.