Quo Vadis, Middlesex College’s student newspaper, won 12 awards – including three first-place finishes – in the 2021 New Jersey Press Association (NJPA) annual competition.

“We are proud of our student journalists,” said College President Mark McCormick. “Our student newspaper is a central organ of communication for the Middlesex College community. I look forward eagerly to reading the new issue each Wednesday during the academic year. I am glad to see that the hard work of our students is being recognized by the New Jersey Press Association.”

The first place wins were for overall website, critical writing and editorial writing. The overall website award was presented to Richa Nayak (North Brunswick), Shakera Blakney (New Brunswick), Tatwa Vaidya (Edison) and Caprice Benifield-Sanchez (North Brunswick).

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The judges noted it was a very strong website, with “clean design. Easy to navigate. Good entry point for user engagement. This is a really nice website.”

Cassandra Maisonet (North Brunswick) won first place for critical writing in the Arts and Entertainment section for “GoPuff is a Last Resort for Snack Cravings; Netflix Delivers Again.”

“Great example of knowing your audience,” the judges said. “Relevant topics to the college crowd and the writer gives a first-person experiential account.”

Enrique Medel (New Brunswick), Austin Reinhart (Fords), and Carolina Fus (Parlin) also took first place in the Editorial Writing category for “The Issues with Social Media,” which was also awarded second place in the opinion writing category.

“Great insight on a hot-button topic,” the judges reported.

Two February 2021 issues took second place, one for the entire staff in general excellence, which cited Gabrielle Ignotis (Spotswood), Benifield-Sanchez, Blakney and Vaidya. The other was for layout and design, presented to Benifield-Sanchez, Blakney, Delaila Aguilar (Edison) and Jazmine Brown (Piscataway). Julia Block (Sayreville) took second place for “Color Me Mine Has Fun For All; Disney Blog Helpful For Park Visits”; Benifield-Sanchez came in second with “Author Turns Passion into a Career”; Block, Jada Davis (Avenel) and Harsh Godhani (South Brunswick) were awarded second place for their editorial, “Struggling Builds Character”; Blakney took second place for the news story “MCC Forms DEI Advisory Board; George Street Playhouse Is Back and Online Only.”

Third place was presented to Sanjana Butala (New Brunswick) for “Can Science Become God?; Student Encourages Others to Find Ikigai,” and “Americans Must Vote” by Blakney, Maisonet and Bettina Dimache (Edison).

English Professor Melissa Edwards, the faculty advisor, said she was thrilled with the results.

“Sometimes students become too insulated in the thought that the paper is just for their satisfaction, to fulfill a grade requirement for a class, or that the paper is only for the people reading it on our campus,” she said. “In reality, a college paper is a training ground for all students of any major to practice effective mass communication. Less obvious, but just as important, a school newspaper allows students to practice working as a team, which is also excellent preparation for any career path. Quo Vadis enables students to learn how to write for media, maintain websites, and master other multimedia tools. Over the years, we have even made videos and won. We hope to expand to a podcast for this upcoming year and continue to try to improve the quality of Quo Vadis writing. NJPA helps us reinforce the purpose of a student newspaper and honors students who strive for excellence in their submissions each week.”


Front row, from left: Gabrielle Ignotis, Harsh Godhani. Second row: Richa Nayak, Delaila Aguilar, Sanjana Butala, and Julia Block. Standing: faculty advisor Melissa Edwards, Cassandra Maisonet, Caprice Benifield-Sanchez, Shakera Blakney, and Jazmine Brown. Not pictured: Tatwa Vaidya, Enrique Medel, Austin Reinhart, Jada Davis, Bettina Dimache and Carolina Fus.