CSU students recognized with national award for multimedia piece sharing trans experiences

Seven Colorado State University students and alumni have been recognized with a prestigious national journalism award for a multimedia project highlighting the experiences of the transgender community on campus. 

“This is what journalism is about: elevating the voices that aren’t heard, and giving them a space to be acknowledged,” said Laura Studley, a May 2021 graduate of CSU’s Department of Journalism and Media Communication. 

Studley, along with Serena Bettis, Owen Johnson, Ben Spence, Colin Shepherd, Devin Cornelius and Lauryn Bolz, were honored in  the Hearst Journalism Awards competition, often referred to as the Pulitzer Prizes of collegiate journalism. The team were finalists in Hearst’s  2021-22 Multimedia Digital News/Enterprise Story Competition, which received dozens of entries from 41 of the nation’s top journalism programs.  

Trans awareness week special edition

The front page of the Trans Awareness Week special edition of The Rocky Mountain Collegian, which was recently recognized with a Hearst award. 

The award recognized the Trans Awareness Week special edition of The Rocky Mountain Collegian, which prominently featured a piece that tells the story of Kaz Smith, a transgender CSU student. 

Studley wrote the article, and photographer Colin Shepherd spent nearly a year following Smith and chronicling his transition. The final story heavily features his photography in addition to intimate self-portraits from Smith, a talented photographer himself. 

“A lot of people don’t know the struggles of people who are transgender,” Shepherd, a May 2021 business administration graduate, said. “It’s something that’s not often represented in today’s media, and we were lucky to shine a light on it.” 

Smith’s story was also featured in an award-winning documentary by Tree Stump Films, the documentary arm of Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation

“I hope that through highlighting not only his story, but everyone’s story in the entire special edition, we created a space where trans people felt less alone,” Studley said. 

Read the full story at col.st/d7O7O.

And see the full Trans Awareness Week special edition: col.st/eP6Xj.