The Muhlenberg Weekly Journalism Awards and Edwin W. Miller Awards in Writing honor student journalists and creative writers

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Ally Duvak '22 smiling and holding her award.

The Muhlenberg Weekly Journalism Awards and Edwin W. Miller Awards in Writing took place on Monday, Apr. 25. Held in the Great Room, the second annual event invited creative writing and journalism students to celebrate their work with a dinner and student readings, as well as honor seniors graduating with a minor in creative & professional writing with yellow roses and two excellence awards. The seniors graduating with this minor are the only ones, as the new name for it is creative writing & journalism.

The Journalism Awards consisted of automatically entered news or BergBeat articles published in The Muhlenberg Weekly by currently enrolled students. News and BergBeat articles from the 2021 calendar year were judged by faculty in different departments as well as alumni from The Muhlenberg Weekly. BergBeat is magazine-style journalism produced from the narrative journalism class.

The judges read over 50 pages of writing and determined that the first place general news prize would be awarded to “The Allentown housing crisis: the fight for affordable housing” by Katherine Dickey ’22, for her reporting about the affordable housing crisis in Allentown. Second place was awarded to “From prison to ‘Berg: The story of Jose Rivera” by Alex Blum ’22, for his piece on Jose Rivera’s work in Allentown.

The winners were awarded cash prizes generously provided by a Weekly alumni, Aletia Morgan ’80. As the former photo editor at The Weekly, Morgan believes that the campus community benefits from student staff and wanted to recognize the time they volunteer. She hopes to encourage student journalism as the strong student voice at Muhlenberg. On Twitter, she wrote, “The Muhlenberg Weekly gave me purpose, sanity and joy during my college years.”

The Muhlenberg Weekly gave me purpose, sanity and joy during my college years.

Aletia Morgan ’80

The panel of judges also determined the first and second place prizes for featured stories from BergBeat and the opinion and editorial section. The winners included “The Sad Fate of ‘Recyclable’ Plastic” by Amanda Clark ’22 and “Our lives will never be the same again” by Katie Behling ’22 for BergBeat. “Considering the ethics of family vlogging” by Brianna Kovit ’23 and “We too deserve to smile” by Mustafa Hall ’23 won first and second prizes respectively for op/ed.

The Edwin W. Miller Awards in Writing were determined by the top six places in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama. The final prize was the Excellence in Creative Writing Award, given to Ally Duvak ’22 and Caya Greenspan-Layman ’22. Duvak comments, “Receiving this award was a huge surprise and an honor. I had no idea that I was being considered. I’m so thankful not only for the award but for the last couple of years I’ve spent learning and growing in the creative writing program. It wasn’t something I got involved with until my junior year and I can say with confidence that it really changed and improved my college experience and the (hopeful) trajectory of my future career.”

Receiving this award was a huge surprise and an honor.

Ally Duvak ’22

The top six pieces in each category were reviewed by professional writers and received comments on their submissions. Honorable mentions were awarded for each genre. In fiction, “I used to have my mother’s eyes” by Honeyjo Yanko ’25 won first place. There was a tie for first place in poetry with “Not Your N.B.C.” by Oyinkan Adebajo and Sophia Naghski ’24’s collection entitled “Blooming Earthward” winning. There was a three-way tie in nonfiction with the essay collection, “Series of Sequential Shifts” by Carina Filemyr ‘23, the manuscript “Welcome Home & Other Essays” by Libby Bergier-Pesin ‘23, and the essay “Double-Barreled Blues” by Greenspan-Layman placing first. The last category, drama, was awarded to “The Mud” by Bridget Palermo ‘25. Greenspan-Layman noted, “It was a pleasure to read to a room full of writers because they all understand the sort of work that goes into writing, and I very much enjoyed the opportunity to hear other students read, as well.”

After dinner and the receiving of awards, six students read their creating writing for those in attendance. The readings included, “I used to have my mother’s eyes” and “The Mud.” Yanko explains, “It was honestly thrilling. I went into the night having no expectations. I wasn’t expecting to receive anything, as I viewed myself as ‘only a freshman.’ I honestly thought I would only get an honorable mention, as Professor Miller asked me to read my work. When she said my name, though, everything clicked. It was suddenly like, ‘Oh, that makes sense in retrospect.’ I loved sharing my work with everyone.”

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