“I think we keep sneaking up on people because I think people underestimate us,” said Max Branscomb with a smirk.
The longtime Southwestern College professor stood in the empty offices of “The Sun” student newspaper. The student-run newspaper, which he advises, was just named the National Student Publication of the Year by the Western Publishing Association.
“Man, these students here at Southwestern keep after it!” Branscomb exclaimed.
“I think we were all ecstatic,” Editor-in-Chief Julia Woock said. "We’re scrappy. We weren’t going to give up."
The victory may have been sweeter considering that the entire Sun staff worked remotely, away from the newsroom on the school’s Chula Vista campus.
“It was a lot of hard work, dedication, communication above everything,” explained Woock. “It was difficult, definitely. There was a complete vibe change.”
“It’s been really weird,” Branscomb added. “I’d say it’s about 20-25% as effective as actually being with people.”
Despite the lack of in-person collaboration, one of The Sun’s November editions won the national title. They beat out student newspapers and magazines from colleges and universities from around the country.
“I think this is the hardest I’ve ever worked but also where I’ve left most of my heart,” Woock said.
“The crazy thing was the four finalists; we had our newspaper and our magazine were both finalists,” Branscomb said with a sigh
The school’s student-run magazine “El Sol” was also a finalist. Two publications out of the same newsroom were tops in the United States.
“Talent and determination will rise to the top,” said a smiling Branscomb, who doesn’t expect to see his newspaper staff in person until next January.