Front row, from left, are staffers Jasmine Santalla of Lawrenceville, Maria Ramos of Ewing, Rachael Westbrook of Princeton, and Jackson Thompson of Hightstown; back row, from left, Tim O’Boyle of Pennington, Chelsey Johnstone of Hamilton, Drew Mumich, and Griffin Jones of Washington Crossing, Pa.

Anyone looking for proof that hard works pays off need simply take a look at Mercer County Community College’s student newspaper, The College VOICE.

In addition to the reporting, photography, provocative opinion pieces, and research that have become hallmarks of the paper, as of late, Mercer’s student reporters have been busy collecting awards for their work during the 2017-18 academic year.

Breaking all previous awards garnered by The College VOICE in a single year, the grand total for 2018 is 24 awards — 17 from the New Jersey Collegiate Press Association (NJCPA), including the coveted General Excellence top honor, and seven from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Region 1, which includes entries from both two- and four-year schools.

According to English and Journalism Professor Holly Johnson, The VOICE’s co-adviser with faculty member Matt Kochis, the students have achieved this high standard through talent, hard work and some very impressive time management.

“Most of these students are carrying a full course load, working 35 hours per week or more at jobs, and writing for the newspaper.” Johnson said. “They mentor and support one another, bounce ideas off each other, motivate one another. It’s an amazing team.”

The VOICE staff was recognized during the college’s April Board of Trustees meeting, with students receiving certificates of honor from President Jianping Wang and Board Chair Carol Golden, along with other board members and administrators.