The Ke Alaka’i news staff at Brigham Young University–Hawaii gained an extraordinary achievement at the National College Media 2023 Convention from October 29 to November 2 in Atlanta, Georgia, garnering an outstanding total of 20 awards. These accolades celebrated their contributions to producing a magazine that showcases writing, design, multimedia, and photography with the heart and talents of BYU–Hawaii in mind.
LeeAnn Lambert, the coordinator at Ke Alaka’i News expressed her gratitude to the staff in their journey toward success. “This is the most awards that Ke Alaka’i staff members have won in the 24 years I have worked at BYU–Hawaii.” Lambert said, highlighting the staff’s unwavering commitment to their craft, talents, and roles they played.
Ke Alaka’i received a diverse range of awards from the convention, each reflecting their skill in different areas of producing the magazine. The team overall secured six first-place awards, two second-place awards, four third-place awards, two fourth-place awards, and six honorable mentions, showcasing their talents across various disciplines.
Nominated for Feature Magazine of the Year by both the Associated Collegiate Press and the College Media Association (CMA), Ke Alaka’i stood out in the top ranks of college magazines across the nation. This nomination is a testament to the exceptional and creative content found in the magazine. “Our students really excel at good design, photography, and writing,” Lambert said. “They tell stories that matter and resonate, and they do it with sensitivity, balancing the ethics of storytelling with the need to uplift and protect individuals.”
A Labor of Love
The Ke Alaka’i staff stood out from other colleges during the convention due to their diverse composition, with 72% of the staff composed of international students from diverse backgrounds like Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, Mongolia, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. All staff members also represent a wide array of majors, such as biology, psychology, political science, education, English, graphic design, peacebuilding, social work, business management, and hotel and tourism management.
Elijah Hadley, the co-editor-in-chief who won third place in the CMA Best Audio Special Event Coverage category, reflected on the accomplishment, saying, “We have such a unique place because of diversity. We do so many different things. Graphic design, photography, interviewing, working with people. All these things and experiences combined with a diverse group of people have been the real reward for me.”
Abigail Harper, the campus news intern who won three awards (first, third, and fourth places in different categories), mentioned it was the care put into the pieces that made them magnificent. “I’ve always wanted to be a writer, so it felt very vindicating to be recognized by these people in ‘high places.’ It helped me know that I could write, and it would mean something,” Harper said. “I write about the things I deeply care about, and it’s important to me that others are seeing and caring about it as well.”
Yui Leung, the multimedia photographer who won two awards (first and second place in two photography categories), is humbled by the recognition he received from the convention. “Even though I’m not personally satisfied with the work I’m doing, it’s nice to see someone out there who appreciates and loves my pictures,” Leung said. “To me, that’s evidence that my photos are creative and that my work as a photographer is improving. It felt like I really belonged to the Ke Alaka’i team.”
The team’s beautiful fusion of talents and dedication symbolizes their triumphs at the convention and reflects not just their skills, but the passionate commitment woven into every story, photograph, and design that they’ve created. It’s a testament to their collective labor of love.
Camille Jovenes, a photographer and recent addition to the team, shares her immense excitement about joining Ke Alaka’i. "Having to choose between jobs related to my major and my passion for photography, I sought guidance before feeling inspired to join this vibrant team." Jovenes marveled at her coworkers' talents, recognizing their ability in writing, photography, video editing, and storytelling. She admired how the team's dedication to showcasing student stories and photos for awards echoed a collaborative spirit. "It's really inspiring to see those students working hard, not just academically but also in what they do in their work here. It shows how much they love what they're doing in taking photos, videos, writing, and giving out their advocacy through what they do.”
Discipleship in the Workplace
Reflecting on the staff’s journey, Leeann Lambert detailed the ethical considerations involved in storytelling. "One of the issues that they have to deal with is making ethical choices, you know, and there are things about people's lives that you can't want to include," Lambert explained. "Part of the ethical part of that is sharing Aloha, which is the love of Christ, love of God for others. Balancing out, telling people's stories about protecting their privacy is something that, you know, trying to exemplify how the Savior would do that. I think everybody has a story."
Jovenes developed Christlike attributes in her interactions. "Jesus’ example helped me develop my Christlike attribute to be of service to others and show charity to them. Not just towards my coworkers but to the people I interact with daily on the job as well."
Leung echoed this sentiment. "I feel like I'm helping [others] through my service and also being compassionate to their story," Leung shared. "And towards my coworkers, I probably showed more selflessness because of my job. Since my other coworkers are too busy to do their stuff, this job allows me to develop service in a fantastic way.”
Harper, reflecting on her role as a writer and as a follower of Jesus Christ, says, "Jesus Christ is an artist. We are the art in the world He’s made for us. He’s the creator of the parables and the stories told. The creativity that is available in a space like this to work at a newspaper to discover truths and then to shape them into a beautiful story... I can feel closer to Jesus Christ when I create beautiful things the way he did."
Hadley emphasized the importance of patience and humility in their work. "Everyone has their own speed. They all have their own issues. They have their own things that they're working through. And that's okay, right? That's part of what makes us human," she explained. "I think working in such a diverse group of people... it affords you a lot of perspective on just how precious everyone is to God."
Ke Alaka’i continues to impress not just the students of BYU–Hawaii but the nation as they triumphed at the National College Media 2023 convention. These awards, the dedication of the students, and their testimony of Jesus Christ stand as a piece of shining evidence of their hard work to inform the student body and spread the love of Christ throughout BYUH.