Sterling College’s Gibbs wins 2024 KCM awards

Woman smiling at the camera
Monday, April 29, 2024

Sterling College journalism garnered state-wide recognition recently by securing victories in the 2024 Kansas Collegiate Media Contest.

Senior Shaylee Gibbs, of Amarillo, Texas, came away as an individual winner.

Also, the Sterling College Observer, which is in its fifth year as the campus student media outlet, received second place in the overall category. In that category, publications can earn one or none of three overall honors within their classifications, which are based on the type of publication and institution. 

“I’m glad to see our work paying off,” Gibbs said.

The top publication in each classification received the All-Kansas Award, and Sterling faced off against other four-year, private college publications that were judged based on their websites.

“I’m extremely happy with how things turned out. Getting second place still gives us room to improve, but it is a testament to the work the students do, especially since there are only two of them on staff at the moment,” said adviser Todd Vogts, assistant professor of media at Sterling College. “More importantly, though, Shaylee Gibbs did great. ”

Gibbs, who is the editor-in-chief of the Observer, earned six individual awards by securing an Honorable Mention in Event Coverage Writing, 3rd place in Event Coverage Writing, Honorable Mention in Feature Writing, 2nd place in Headline Writing, Honorable Mention in Review Writing, and Honorable Mention in Sports Feature Writing.

“I’m so proud of Shaylee. She’s a wonderful ambassador of our publication and program. I’m lucky to have her involved,” Vogts said. “She’s the Observer's rock. The constant. She’s self-motivated with a nose for news, and I have loved seeing her continue to improve and grow as a journalist who seeks out stories and keeps the campus community informed.”

In 2023, Gibbs took 2nd place in Column Writing, Event Coverage Writing, and Headline Writing. The year prior, she won an honorable mention in Column Writing, so this year’s victories showcase her growth as a reporter and writer.

“Receiving recognition for my work is always an honor, especially when I am competing against so many other journalists,” Gibbs said. 

The awards were announced during the KCM Spring Conference on April 21-22. 

Students placing in the contest received certificates touting their success, but Vogts said the judging feedback the students get is even more important.

“There are usually a lot of great suggestions in those comments,” he said. “In some cases, they reiterate things I’ve been saying, which is great because sometimes students need to hear it from someone else for it to sink in. In other instances, the judges say things we hadn’t considered, and that allows us to really grow. I love the competition aspect of contests, and winning is great. However, learning and improving from it is the most important aspect.”

The Spring of 2023 marked the Sterling College Observer's transition away from its monthly print publication to focus on digital offerings. Now it publishes weekly online during the fall and spring semesters. It is a student-led and student-produced media outlet that strives to be a timely resource of information about the Sterling College community. 

It reports on news, issues, activities, academics, and athletics. It also offers a forum for discussion, reviews, and commentary. It serves as an effective learning experience for students, who have the final authority over what is published. 

To read the Observer, please visit, and subscribe to the Observer’s bi-weekly email newsletter called The SCOOP, which can be found at

Also, the Observer operates a 24-hour online radio station called SCOR. People can tune in at 

Sterling College is a Christ-centered, four-year college located in Sterling, Kansas, with a mission to develop creative and thoughtful leaders who understand a maturing Christian faith. For more information, visit