By Alexander Lewis & Harsh Godhani
Head Social Media Editor and Staff Writer
Quo Vadis staff members accepted multiple awards from the New Jersey Press Foundation in the 2017-18 College Newspaper Contest at the Courtyard Marriot in Cranbury, New Jersey on April 14 at 10 a.m.
Second-year Liberal Arts General major, Cailee Oliver, won 1st place for Sports Writing for her stories “MCC Visits the Harlem Globetrotters” and “MCC Sophomore Honored as Woman of the Year.”
Third-year Liberal Arts Business major and Quo Vadis Opinion Editor, Jamal Kingston and Liberal Arts General major, Adam Homza, won 1st place for Online Video for their “Documenting the Truth” YouTube video series.
Second year Liberal Arts General major and Quo Vadis Head Social and Digital Media Editor, Alexander Lewis, Quo Vadis Social Media Editors, second-year Computer Science major Samantha Cheng, fourth-year Network Administration major, Harsh Godhani and second-year Journalism major, Claudia Ugbana, won 1st place for Overall Website.
The Quo Vadis Faculty Adviser, Dr. Melissa Edwards entered the stories and issues into the contest that she felt were the best for the 2017-2018 year. Eighteen other two-year colleges in New Jersey competed in the contest.
The 2018 Spring Conference and Awards Luncheon was hosted by the New Jersey Press Foundation.
Business Manager Peggy Artibell of New Jersey Press Association welcomed attendees and introduced the keynote speaker, Attorney with Gibbons P.C. and Co-Counsel to the New Jersey Press Association, Lauren James-Weir, Esq., who spoke about various implication of law and free speech in the field of journalism.
Oliver, who was formerly a sports writer and editor for Quo Vadis and a part of New Brunswick Today, said she was inspired to be a sports writer because she has a great interest and love for sports and wants to be a writer.
“I love meeting the players … and getting their backstory and their experience with the game so it kind of just feels like I’m writing the story itself and I love fictional writing,” said Oliver, “I thought journalism would be another field for me to experiment with and so far, I really like it a lot.”
Oliver said, “I thought Harlem Globetrotters story … would be interesting, because it was different [from other sports stories because] the Harlem Globetrotters are [a very entertaining] basketball team and [I wanted to share] the experience the Middlesex students got from it too and how it impacts them.”
Lewis said, “I have always been passionate about writing and with it, journalism; the online space is where journalism is heading in the future so I wanted to do my part to make sure Quo Vadis and MCC were at the forefront of the field as it evolves.”
I also wanted to expand my experience and try out different aspects of journalism, said Lewis.
Kingston said he was started his video series because he wanted to speak out and inform the public about issues that are important like journalism, broadcasting, social issues, politics, [and] culture, anything that’s important to an American society and the world in general.
“It’s important to have a voice even if you may disagree with that person,” said Kingston, “It’s important to … have that voice of … reason, especially in a time of extreme differences these days.”
“[Current] issues … that are happening in America [like] corruption in government, racial issues, transportation … quality of life, crime, the business culture, the social culture all that are important,” said Kingston, “… how colleges treat their students in terms of accountability and how they get stuff done for people, making sure that our colleges are accountable for what they do, making sure that people get the education that they paid for.”
Kingston said, “That’s all important and making sure that we listen to different opinions even if you might disagree with it you listen to it because … under the First Amendment, we have the right to free speech.”
When asked about her career goals, Oliver said, “Definitely work in media for the rest of my life, whether it be with journalism [or] just writing [stories] in general … but if that does not work I also will possibly have a major in psychology and also become a counselor.”
Kingston said he wants to become a broadcaster journalist, have his own communications firm or maybe be a marketer salesman.
Homza said he wants to take the film he’s been writing for the past three years, “Our Code,” and turn that into an actual film series.
“I plan to just make a films for a living … [and] my dream position is actually being either a writer, director or cinematographer,” said Homza.
Homza said I and Kingston came up with the idea for the video series after realizing how much he enjoyed the unique and important conversations they had together
“We sometimes we would just simply stop [our] meetings and just listen into what Jamal was saying because of … the way he would talk about certain issues,” said Homza, “He just wanted to get the facts out and … not go through any other media outlet [so] we [also] did our own research.”
“Look around and see what is happening in the college and the area,” said Kingston, “Keep an eye on government: student… county … state … our federal government and other social issues and cultural issues… [it’s] important to just stay tuned and watch what might happen.”
Lewis said, “My dream job is being a videogame journalist but I would be happy as long as I am able to tell people’s’ stories and have a positive impact on the world.”
Oliver said if students are interested in writing or just being a part of a club, they should join Quo Vadis.
“I think in order to get experience, you should definitely practice a bit, and then I think these college experiences … definitely help out … with writing experience, working together with a team of people who also want to pursue the same kind of career goal and it also just builds confidence and your writing as well,” said Oliver.
Lewis said, “Joining Quo Vadis was the decision I made since I came back to MCC.”
“It allowed me to work on my leadership skills, my writing and showed me how varied and intricate the field of journalism really is,” said Lewis, “If you have an interest in writing, design, photography, illustration, social media, public relations, management or preparing for the workplace after after you graduate you should join the Quo Vadis staff.”
Lewis said, “Joining the staff can lead to many opportunities; I’m certain that my membership in Quo Vadis is why I got a paid internship at the Home News Tribune this summer.”
“I would surely recommend that they do that because it’s important for them to have a voice of reason [and] … a voice of toughness as well,” Kingston said, “You need to have voices … that you could hear people voice their opinions, whether you like it or not, they could bring light to issues that may be unseen…”
“When I first joined Quo Vadis I was fairly [new so] … I just helped you guys out whenever I could,” said Homza, “The second semester … I began writing like crazy for every single issue … and I actually highly recommend and doing that [because] even if your article doesn’t get in the newspaper, just writing it down and submitting it will help you out tremendously [with your] English courses.”
Homza said, “I was actually doing terrible in English when I came to a Middlesex I was failing course after course.”
“[By writing for Quo Vadis] I was basically practicing it over and over again and because of that I’ve actually gotten so well in writing that I actually passed the second English course with a B.”
“In terms of like film … you [don’t] need a giant budget to do something,” said Homza, “Me and Jamal got an award [even though we had] no microphone [or a proper camera].”
“We just did it because we wanted to do it … but most importantly, we had fun doing it,” said Homza, “You could do anything for free as long as you love doing it.”
“Just keep doing what you love and just keep doing what you want to do,” said Oliver, “That’s what I’m doing so far and it’s difficult but I definitely enjoy it as much as I can.”
“This is my first time winning an award like this, which is pretty good and cool and it’s … a testament to the hard work that Quo Vadis has done over the past couple of years [in] bringing out these issues to light in the Middlesex County area and New Jersey,” said Kingston.
For those interested in more information or interested in journalism can go to the MCC Quo Vadis newspaper weekly meeting in the College Center, Room 319, Wednesdays at 11 a.m.