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W&L Senior Athena Cao Wins First Place for Feature Writing in National Contest

Athena (Yue) Cao, a senior from Beijing, China, has won first place for feature writing (small school division) in the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) 2015 national Mark of Excellence for college journalists.

Cao won for a story entitled “Hotdogs — a ‘Life Changer’ for Chili Man,” written while she was an intern at The Charlotte Observer during the summer of 2015.

Cao, a business journalism major, is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honorary Society, a glider pilot in training with the Shenandoah Valley Soaring Club and a peer tutor for financial accounting. She was awarded a 2015 journalism summer fellowship from the Virginia Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Delta Chi Educational Foundation. She is a W&L Executive Committee hearing advisor and a phonathon caller.

She has also been a business news intern at the Richmond Times-Dispatch; an editorial intern at The Hill, a political newspaper in Washington; and a cultural channel editorial intern at Phoenix Media in China. This summer she will work as a business news intern at USA Today.

Carolyn Holtzman, a senior from New Orleans, was a national finalist in the general news category (small school division) for her story “High-Tech and High-Touch: FIU Introduces ‘Virtual’ Dissection,” published while she was an intern at the Miami Herald.

Holtzman is a double major in journalism and Spanish from New Orleans. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, English Speakers of Other Languages and events chairman for Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She writes for InGeneral Magazine and was a copywriter for the 2016 Mock Convention, worked on The Rockbridge Report and won the Clark R. Mollenhoff Award which recognizes a journalism major.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior.

SPJ’s Mark of Excellence Awards each year recognize the best work of student journalists across the country. National winners will be acknowledged during the SPJ’s Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans this September.