Albion’s Student Newspaper Wins Seven Michigan Press Association Awards

The Pleiad is recognized in opinion and feature writing, as well as in design and photography.

March 29, 2022

A photo of Sam Semerau and Irene Corona-Avila holding newspapers up.

The latest Albion student newspaper award winners include (from left) Aura Ware, Sam Semerau and Irene Corona-Avila.

By John Perney

In a year blanketed by COVID-19 from January through December, it was only fitting that the best in 2021 student journalism across Michigan was honored through a virtual event.

“We threw a little party in our office and streamed the award ceremony,” said Dr. Krista Quesenberry, assistant professor of English who serves as advisor to The Pleiad, Albion College’s student newspaper.

That The Pleiad staff was able to gather in its Kellogg Center office March 17 to watch the event was a sign of the campus beginning to emerge from the pandemic (and adapt to campus life beyond it). But the bigger story was Albion’s haul: seven awards from Division 2 of the Michigan Press Association (MPA).

“It was super exciting,” said Sam Semerau, ’22, who, as The Pleiad’s editor-in-chief for 2021-22, was responsible for submitting award nominations to MPA. “I knew that we would walk away with something—I had a good gut feeling—but I didn’t realize it would be that many.”

Staff of The Pleiad receiving recognition included:

According to Semerau, who joined The Pleiad staff in early 2020, achieving award-winning journalism amidst a pandemic makes the experience all the more special.

“It’s been really interesting getting that camaraderie that you know you need to have as a staff to make [the paper] run,” she said. “People aren’t going to want to do this unless they have a good time. It was hard for a while, meeting virtually; we only recently started meeting again in The Pleiad office, and that was a nice return to form. There are not many of us [on staff] who remember that. So, for me it was a homecoming, but for many others it was a new experience.”

Quesenberry mentioned that opinion writing, in particular, is a perennial strength of The Pleiad, but that this year’s award recognition is reflective of the efforts of the entire staff. “Our publication is as clean as it’s ever been in terms of style and editing,” she said, “and Sam is a really impressive student leader in terms of welcoming students and showing them the ropes.”

Semerau, a double major in English and history, has been accepted into master’s in publishing programs at George Washington University and Pace University. Four years ago, she didn’t think she would be making this kind of decision.

“I did a semester on my high school paper, and I quit halfway through because of social anxiety,” Semerau said. “Once I got to Albion, I needed a campus job, and I thought, ‘The newspaper, it’ll just be a job.’ Then it turned into a leadership position, and now we’re here. It wasn’t at all how I was intending it, but I am so glad it turned out the way it did, because I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Quesenberry picked up on that notion: “There are a lot of folks who look back and realize that writing for a student newspaper is a time for them to be independent, to get their ideas out into the world. There is something about not just writing for the classroom; it can be very memorable and shape and prepare you for a career.”

The adviser also made sure to add that hiring for The Pleiad’s 2022-23 staff will begin soon. Interested students can email [email protected] with questions and keep an eye out for job postings on Handshake or the College’s website.