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Two students, alumnus named SPJ national award winners

The School of Communications notches four national wins and two national finalist nods in Mark of Excellence competition.

(l-r) Al Drago '15, Alex Simon '17 and Leena Dahal '17

Elon University alumnus Al Drago ’15 and juniors Alex Simon and Leena Dahal were named national winners in the 2015 Society of Professional Journalist Mark of Excellence Awards competition.

Drago, a photojournalist for Roll Call, captured top honors in General News Photography  (Small School Division—defined as 9,999 students or fewer) for a photo titled “Lean on Me” and in Sports Photography (Small School Division) for a photo titled “Rugby Prom.” Additionally, Drago was named a national finalist in Breaking News Photography for his photo “It’s Getting Hot in Here.”

Simon, the sports editor of The Pendulum and a journalism major, won in Sports Writing (Small School Division) for “Football attempts move on to ‘new normalcy,’” a story about how the Elon University football team was mentally and emotionally dealing with the sudden death of one of its players.

Dahal, a strategic communications major, was recognized as the national winner in General Column Writing (Small School Division) for three of her columns: “Take a stand against cultural appropriation,” “Sharing the Phoenix spirit with Nepal during her recovery,” and “Learning beyond 5 little letters.”

In addition to the winners, Alumna Katy Canada ’15 was named a national finalist in In-Depth Reporting (Small School Division) for “Unaccompanied minors seek new homes and lives in NC.”

The national winners and finalists will be acknowledged at the Excellence in Journalism Conference Sept. 18-20 in New Orleans.

Prior to this year’s winners, Elon student work has earned nine other first-place awards since 2010. This includes three national wins in photography competitions from Drago last year and another from senior Michael Bodley for Breaking News Reporting.

Colin Donohue,
5/16/2016 7:45 AM