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Students honored by Society of Professional Journalists

Release Date: April 24, 2016

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo


Press Release

PUEBLO - Colorado State University-Pueblo journalism students received recognition at the 2016 Society of Professional Journalism (SPJ) Region 9 Mark of Excellence Awards that were held April 15 and 16 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The SPJ Region 9 Conference includes colleges and universities throughout Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico. Categories for entry include: print, radio, television, and online collegiate journalism. First-place regional winners will advance to the national round of judging. National winners will be announced in early May and attend the annual awards conference in September held in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The awards recognize work completed during the 2015 calendar year. This year, the contest received thousands of entries through the collective categories. The CSU-Pueblo winners are listed below. For additional information on the Mark of Excellence awards, please contact Abbi Martzall, awards coordinator at or at 317.927.8000, ext. 210.

2016 CSU-Pueblo Mark of Excellence Award Winners/Finalists

Kieren Duncan, senior mass communications major from Goodyear, Arizona, winner of Sports Writing, for article "Former Pack player lands spot on coaching staff."

Keelan Bailey, junior mass communications major from Colorado City, and Sara Knuth, senior mass communications major from Pueblo, finalists in Non-Fiction Magazine Article, for "CSU-Pueblo brings campus technology up to speed." Knuth also was a finalist in Feature Writing, for "Former White House press secretary and CSU-Pueblo alumna returns to Pueblo."

Zach Hillstrom, , senior mass communications major from Colorado Springs, finalist in Sports Writing, for article "Big goals in Bonner's future."

Dustin Cox, senior mass communications major from Trinidad, finalist in Best Use of Multimedia, for "CSU-Pueblo basketball alumnus's life cut short."

The following students in the Reporting Public Affairs Class won the In-Depth Reporting category, for the supplement Cultures and Ethnicities at CSU-Pueblo. Richard Joyce, associate professor of mass communications, guided the students through the process and aided in publication. The final result is an in-depth look at CSU-Pueblo's demographics, rising diversity, overcoming language barriers, athletics as a culture, and more interesting topics.

Kieren Duncan, senior mass communications major from Goodyear, Arizona

Gianna Lisac, mass communication major from Pueblo, graduated in spring 2015

Michelle Pham, mass communications major from Denver, graduating in spring 2016

Kiersten Senff, senior mass communications major from Howard, Colorado

The award-winning CSU-Pueblo Cultures and Ethnicities supplement issue can be accessed at this link.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.

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