Greater Allegheny students take regional press award

MCKEESPORT, Pa. – "It's all storytelling, you know. That's what journalism is all about." This quote by American television journalist Tom Brokaw exemplifies the work dedicated student journalists conduct at Penn State Greater Allegheny. Members of the GA-Zette, the student-run paper seek stories, interview people, and write articles that inform and inspire readers. Three members were recently recognized for their efforts by the Western Pennsylvania Press Club during the 56th annual Golden Quill Awards, held Sept. 3. The Golden Quill recognizes excellence in journalism and communications.

Troy Ferguson, Riley Perciavalle, and Katarina Shields were nominated for the awards' opinion section, and watched the live stream with other journalists from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Virginia.

Troy Ferguson, a senior communications major from West Mifflin, won a Golden Quill for “Self-Care…We Care!", an opinion piece covering mental health and the importance of the subject. When making the announcement, Susan Brozek Scott, the ceremony's narrator, shared a judge’s comment. "Troy Ferguson's article on self-care for young males is a strong piece.” shared Scott. “This important topic, no doubt, made readers take stock of their own mental health."

"I was so thrilled and honored to be nominated for my first Golden Quill award,” said Ferguson. “What makes me so happy is that my article is showcasing the importance of mental health and self-care. It is so important to have these types of conversations, especially in these uncertain times."

Shields, a junior information sciences and technology major from Pittsburgh, assisted with the story’s design and received a Golden Quill for her work alongside Ferguson.

Ferguson's peer, Perciavalle, a junior communications major from McKeesport penned "My Holiday Apocalypse" and was crowned a finalist.

"I guess you can say it's a surprise when I got nominated to be in The Golden Quill for News Writing," said Perciavalle. "It was my first article I worked on, and it was exciting to see others cheer me on."

Rosemary Martinelli, the faculty adviser for The GA-Zette, took home her own award for her piece "That Week In May: An Open Letter to My Students." The piece is a story about her mom, communications and the need to connect with others beyond the technology that encompasses our lives.

"We do not do our life's work to win awards," said Martinelli. "However, when your peers from other parts of the country recognize your work, it is humbling and rewarding. I am honored to know that others found value in its message."

At the conclusion of the event, Martinelli noted, "I am especially proud of the work of our students and their interest to engage in journalism for our campus and the nearby community. During the awards program, much was said about our need to write and report about the world around us, with objectivity, ethics and accuracy. Our students will continue the mission for Greater Allegheny, and I will help them along the way from here to their future careers in the media."

The 2020 Quill awards are available here.