MCCC's College VOICE Student Newspaper Earns Three Awards From Society of Professional Journalists

MCCC Is Sole Community College Winner in 2021 Region 1 Mark of Excellence Competition


West Windsor, N.J. – Mercer County Community College's (MCCC’s) student newspaper, The College VOICE, recently won three awards in the annual Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Mark of Excellence (MOE) competition. Often referred to as “the Oscars of college journalism,” MCCC competed against two- and four-year colleges in Region 1, which included four-year colleges such as Harvard, Columbia, Syracuse, Vassar, Williams, Lehigh and Rider. The VOICE  was the only community college in Region 1 to win any of the 147 total awards this year. 

“These students are incredibly determined and hard working,” said English and Journalism Professor Holly Johnson, who is The VOICE’s co-advisor with Associate Professor Matt Kochis. “These students not only attend college and produce the newspaper; many also have full- and part-time jobs, and some have families and children to care for.”

Ben Levitt of East Windsor was the winner in the General News Photography category for his photographs of police taking a knee at a Black Lives Matter protest in Hightstown, NJ, in May 2020. Johnson noted, “Ben always says that autism is his superpower, and that is true. He is a key member of the diverse and talented VOICE staff, which reflects the best that MCCC has to offer.” (See Levitt's photo and story here.)

Students Mohamed Haddara of Skillman and Serena Bolitho of Princeton were finalists in the COVID-19 Feature Photography category for their “Facing Reality” spread, coming in just behind Penn State University. Brian Amigh was a finalist in the COVID-19 Writing category for his article “Three Stories of COVID-19 Survival.” (See their spread here.)

The Society of Professional Journalists annually presents the Mark of Excellence Awards, honoring the best in student journalism. Entries are first judged on the regional level. First-place regional winners advance to the national competition, and most are recognized at their respective regional SPJ conference in the spring of 2021. National winners are showcased on

Johnson observes that The VOICE has maintained its ranking as one of the top two-year college newspapers in the nation, even amid the challenges of reporting during the pandemic. One of the most award-winning two-year college newspapers in the nation, The VOICE also earned 18 New Jersey Press Foundation awards this year. In the past ten years, The VOICE has won 115 New Jersey Press Foundation awards, three Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker awards, five College Media Association Apple Awards, and 31 SPJ Mark of Excellence awards.


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Award-winning photo "Police Take a Knee" by Ben Levitt



Award-winning spread "Facing Reality: What Do Our Masks Say About Us?"