Class of ’24 helps Student Pubs lead nation with 10 Pacemakers in four years

When the Class of 2024 landed on the Hill in August of 2020, they started their college careers deep in the worst global pandemic in a century.

Nothing was normal. Most classes were online. Masks and Plexiglas were everywhere, Social distancing was the law. Socializing? Building a campus family? Difficult at best, near impossible much of the time.

But the 21 members of the WKU Student Publications staffs who are graduating May 2-3 were part of something outstanding – something that those who came before them had never done, and a distinction no one else in student media nationwide these past four years could match.

During their four years at WKU, the students who work in the College Heights Herald newsroom, the Talisman magazine, Student Publications Advertising and the Cherry Creative branded-content studio won the most prestigious national honor in student media, the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Award – 10 times!

In addition to the 10 Pacemakers from 2020-21 to 2023-24, WKU Student Publications earned eight finalist honors during the same period.

“I knew we had been on a run of excellence in recent years, but I didn’t know how significant that was until I went back and looked at the full database of Pacemakers in recent years,” said Chuck Clark, director of WKU Student Publications. “What these students have accomplished in the past four years has no equal in student media nationwide, and that is flat out tremendous.”

“This group arrived on campus with the most formidable challenges I’ve seen, and they more than just succeeded – they did something we’ve never accomplished before.”

Pacemaker Awards are nothing new to WKU Student Publications, where our student-led areas have won a total of 47 since our first in 1978. But the streak of 10 Pacemakers in the past four years was unprecedented – both for WKU and for student media nationwide.

ACP and the Pacemaker Award have been around for a century and are widely considered the pre-eminent award for student media. Talisman won WKU’s first Pacemaker in 1978 as a yearbook, following by the College Heights Herald winning the newspaper Pacemaker in 1981. All together, the Herald has won 23 Pacemakers, Talisman 22 and two for Cherry Creative and Student Publications Advertising.

WKU’s recent streak of Pacemakers consisted of three in 2020-21, 2022-23 and 2023-24, and one in 2021-22:

  • 2020-21 – Innovation Pacemaker, Cherry Creative
  • 2020-21 – Magazine Pacemaker, Talisman
  • 2020-21 – Online Pacemaker, College Heights Herald
  • 2021-22 – Newspaper Pacemaker, College Heights Herald
  • 2022-23 – Newsmagazine Pacemaker, College Heights Herald
  • 2022-23 – Online Pacemaker, Talisman
  • 2022-23 – Online Pacemaker, College Heights Herald
  • 2023-24 – Innovation Pacemaker, College Heights Herald
  • 2023-24 – Multiplatform Pacemaker, College Heights Herald
  • 2023-24 – Student Media Business Pacemaker, Student Publications Advertising and Cherry Creative

Students Publications staff members graduating in the Class of 2024 are:

  • Kenya Barcus, Cherry Creative
  • Emma Bayen, Cherry Creative (co-director, 2023-24)
  • Pandora Booth, Talisman and Cherry Creative
  • Bailey Brush, Cherry Creative (co-director, 2023-24)
  • Madison Carter, College Heights Herald
  • Alex Cissell, Student Publications Advertising
  • Maggie Corlew, Talisman
  • Molly Dobberstein, College Heights Herald
  • Leah Hunter, Talisman (executive editor, 2022-23, 2023-24)
  • Izzy Lanuza, College Heights Herald
  • Abby Loftus, Student Publications Advertising (manager, Spring 2024)
  • Cameron McKinney, Talisman
  • Jeffrey Meyers, Talisman
  • Debra Murray, College Heights Herald (co-editor-in-chief, Fall 2022, editor-in-chief Spring 2023) and Talisman
  • Mariia Novoselia, College Heights Herald
  • Caden Rich, Talisman
  • Wyatt Richardson, Cherry Creative
  • Cailyn Richer, Talisman
  • Molly St. Clair, College Heights Herald
  • Julia Steinmetz, Student Publications Advertising
  • Arthur Trickett-Wile, Talisman and College Heights Herald