May 22, 2020


As this momentous academic year draws to a close, the Department faculty and staff are paying tribute to our students’ academic successes and well as their extracurricular accomplishments.

“This year, Department faculty and staff are not able in the usual way to commemorate these achievements,” said Linda Bowen, chair. “That does not make these awards and honors any less significant.” 

Normally, the annual Awards Reception and Kappa Tau Alpha (KTA) Honor Society initiation is the time to recognize and celebrate the Department’s students, faculty and staff.

“But the Coronavirus Pandemic changed our plans,” Bowen said. “Instead, we commemorate the occasion today by announcing the seven honorees of the top awards.”

These awards include: Outstanding Graduating Senior (Judge Julian Beck) Award, which is given to the top all around undergraduate, and the Outstanding Graduate Thesis/Project, an annual award granted to a Mass Communication program graduate student for exemplary thesis or project. The Department also conveys the KTA Outstanding Service Award to recognize persons of outstanding accomplishment. It is named for Keith P. Sanders, KTA’s longtime executive director. 

In addition, three students earned Dean’s Recognition Awards, presented by Dan Hosken, dean of the Mike Curb College for Arts, Media and Communication, for Outstanding Service to the Department, University and/or Community.

Shae Hammond and Victor Rojas, Outstanding Graduating Senior (Judge Julian Beck Award)

  • A photojournalist at CSUN Athletics since transferring from Pierce College in 2018, Hammond also worked for The Sundial, and as a photo lab tech in the Journalism Department. In Fall 2019, Shae served as a student scholar and intern, assisting a senior project class (JOUR 498) in teaching basic photography skills to members of a local homeless community. “Working with the homeless participants every Friday for three months not only gave them a support system,” she said, “but also helped me become the type of photojournalist I would like to be, someone who takes photographs with compassion.”
  • Rojas, president of the CSUN chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, also worked part-time in the University’s Media Relations office, in addition to his class load. Previously, he served in a similar role in CSUN’s Advancement office. He is keenly interested in public affairs and investigative reporting, as well public policy issues pertaining to accessibility, which is based on his personal experiences around mobility. “As a journalism student, my interest in government policies stems from the public accessibility challenges I’ve experienced, due to my limited mobility. Currently, he participating in a ‘coming of age’ feature documentary that highlights the great difficulties still existent for my community of disabled individuals, as we navigate a not so accessible world.” He was among only two Journalism students selected as an inaugural fellow in the California College Journalism Network, launched in early 2020 as a grant-funded CalMatters and California Press Foundation collaboration.

Marta Valier, Outstanding Graduate Thesis/Project

  • While in the Mass Communication program, she has been an assistant digital archivist at the Tom and Ethel Bradley Center. There, she assisted in the research and curation of the photo exhibition “Visualizing People’s History: Richard Cross’s Images of the Central American Liberation Wars,” opened in August 2019 at the Museum of Social Justice in Los Angeles. Her thesis is an audio podcast/documentary about how memories of the Salvadoran civil war are shaped by the present time and includes oral histories with Salvadoran activists from the civil war who now live in Los Angeles. 

Bill Imada, KTA Outstanding Service Award

  • Founder, chairman and chief connectivity officer of IW Group, Inc., marketing and communications firm specializing in the growing multicultural market, with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. Imada has been instrumental in helping the Department create and facilitate its first advisory council founded in February 2018, focusing on the Public Relations program and students. He also has supported our students in numerous other ways, providing critical funding for Agency 398, the student-run PR operation, and well as for students involved in the CSUN chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. In addition, Imada has involved our students in the groundbreaking National Millennial and Gen Z Community. As a trainer and mentor, he works with a number of universities, serving on their advisory councils and fostering academic relationships across the country. He teachers part-time at USC and other colleges and universities.

In addition, three students earned Dean’s Recognition Awards, presented by Dan Hosken, dean of the Mike Curb College for Arts, Media and Communication, for Outstanding Service to the Department, University and/or Community.

MCCAMC Dean’s Recognition Awards

  • Freshman Kirsten Cintigo – Currently a social media editor for Build PODER program at CSUN. She manages social media, creates a newsletter every week, takes photos around campus and write feature stories. A graduate of Daniel Pearl High School, Cintigo won the scholarship given to a graduating student pursuing journalism who embodies Daniel Pearl's journalistic ideals. Her parents came to the U.S. during El Salvador's Civil War in the 1980s. Kirsten wants to report on this community, she said, as a lot of the news surrounding it is negative and doesn't accurately portray the Central American experience in the United States or within Central American countries.
  • Junior Matthew Yahata – Currently, a general assignment intern at KNBC-4, Matthew was poised for a summer 2020 post at ABC’s Good Morning America in New York, until the position was eliminated by the Coronavirus Pandemic. He has several internships to his credit, including working as a news production assistant last year at NBC’s “Nightly News” program in Los Angeles as well as for the Investigative Team at the local network affiliate, KNBC-4, where he did projects on the homeless crisis. Matthew also serves as a CSUN campus Ambassador.
  • Graduate student Eder Diaz – Since joining the Mass Communication program, Diaz has supported a new undergraduate student podcast series in the Journalism department. He has also taught undergraduate classes in our Spanish-language journalism program. Diaz’s professional experience includes working for Univision Radio in Los Angeles since 2007. His experience includes senior producer for Los Angeles’ No. 1 ranked radio show, the syndicated “El Show de Omar y Argelia.” While producing the show, Diaz, a Journalism alumnus, also collaborated with Journalism students on a podcast series, “Dreamers: Redefinirel sueño Americano.” In May 2018, he launched one of the first Spanish-language podcasts, “De Pueblo, Cátolico y Gay,” directed to the LGBTQ community.