2020 Herald Award: Mike Collins, a posthumous honor

When the global coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, scuttling that year’s Student Publications Homecoming Breakfast, we decided to defer our annual Herald and Talisman alumni awards for a year.

We didn’t know that someone we wanted to honor would not survive the pandemic. After two weeks in an intensive care unit on a ventilator with Covid-19, Mike Collins died on Feb. 25, 2021. He was 59

So today, we make a bittersweet announcement: We are figuratively stepping back in time to grant the 2020 College Heights Herald Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism to Mike Collins.

Mike graduated from WKU in 1984 with a photojournalism degree, and during his time here he worked on both the College Heights Herald and the Talisman.

After college, Mike worked in several news organizations and eventually co-founded The Southern Aviator magazine in Raleigh, North Carolina, seizing on his passion for aviation.

Mike really came into his own as an aviation journalist, and it is this work that earned him the honor of the College Heights Herald Award.

Mike was hired by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association in 1994, where he was technical editor for AOPA Pilot, the group’s professional magazine. Among his many adventures in that job was his work documenting an around-the-world flight of a private pilot, a story Mike told with captivating words and images. Mike blogged across the globe during that 25-day adventure and then later produced a collection of stories across media platforms for AOPA.

During a training session with College Heights Herald staffers in 2019, Mike captivated the room with his stories and images.

While Mike worked in the written word, audio and video, his real passion was for photography. And he was able to match that with his love of aviation.

“Photojournalism is all about storytelling,” Mike once said. “And aviation is full of great stories just waiting to be told.”

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