The Society of Adventist Communicators (SAC) awarded former Southern Accent Editor-in-Chief Megan Yoshioka the 2022 SAC Student Award at its annual convention held this year in Columbia, Maryland. Yoshioka was nominated by Accent Adviser Alva James-Johnson, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Communication (SJC), for her outstanding student journalism at Southern Adventist University.
Yoshioka graduated summa cum laude from Southern in 2022 with a bachelor’s of science in mass communication – writing and editing. She served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper during the 2021-2022 school year. With the help of the Accent team, she produced 22 issues of the Accent, completing volume 77. These issues can be found on issue.com.
According to Victoria Joiner, associate professor at the SJC and an SAC executive committee member, after reviewing all the nominations submitted by schools in the North American Division (NAD), the executive committee chose Yoshioka as the winner. Joiner presented the award at the October convention.Yoshioka was unable to attend the event, but James-Johnson accepted the award on her behalf.
“I considered it an honor to nominate Megan for the award and accept it on her behalf,” James-Johnson wrote in an email to the Accent. “I remember when she first became editor of the Accent. At the time, she was a shy, young woman unsure of her ability to fulfill the task. However, as the school year progressed, I watched her rise to the occasion, leading a staff of about 20 people, handling the budget, writing dozens of stories and making tough editorial decisions, always handling herself with integrity. I could not be more proud of her for all she accomplished.”
“My parents, when I was growing up, as a whole, have always tried to instill in me hard work, having a good work ethic.”
In an interview with the Accent, Yoshioka said she was on the phone with her mother the night of the award ceremony when she started receiving texts from friends, colleagues and mentors informing her she had won the award. She hadn’t told anyone she had been nominated.
Yoshioka said it was nice to receive recognition after the hard work that she and the Accent team did during her year as editor-in-chief. She now works as a copy editor for Pacific Press Publishing Association and believes her time as editor-in-chief prepared her for her career.
“I’m kind of happy for the paper, too, because I think now it’s gotten some recognition with Adventist institutions aside from just [Southern],” Yoshioka said. “So, now it’s kind of expanded, and I’m happy for that.”
According to Joiner, categories of work represented at the convention range from special campaigns, print journalism and even podcasts.
“Each year, the SAC celebrates the accomplishments and the fine work of professionals and students,” Joiner wrote in an email to the Accent. “It was always interesting that students have been able to showcase their talents in many of the same categories as the professionals. … The SAC executive committee makes the final selections for the awards. Students are usually nominated by their professors and are generally noted for exceptional leadership and skills in their fields.”
Yoshioka said her experience with the Accent taught her to be more adaptable as she learned to go with the ‘flow of journalism.’” She said that not only did the position sharpen her leadership and teamwork skills, but it also widened her perspective as she worked with and learned from the experiences of others.
“My parents, when I was growing up, as a whole, have always tried to instill in me hard work, having a good work ethic,” she said. “And working for the Accent really magnified it because you’re constantly working. … I’m not scared by hard work anymore.”
In her email, James-Johnson included the names of three past student editors, all of whom deserve recognition for their hard work, she wrote.
“I also want to recognize, at this time, three other student editors who helped pave the way for Megan’s success,” James-Johnson stated. “Tierra Hayes, who served as editor-in-chief during the 2018-2019 school year and as managing editor from 2019 to 2020; Paola Mora Zepeda, who served as editor-in-chief during both the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years; and Joel Guerra, who served as the news editor during the 2019-2020 school year. All three led the newspaper through unprecedented coverage as the campus shut down due to the pandemic, and they also deserve recognition for their fantastic work.”