News Release

SAC's el Don Student Newspaper Receives Multiple Recognitions at National Pacemaker Awards


​Award-Winning Journalism Program Continues its Winning Streak

(SANTA ANA, Calif.) Santa Ana College (SAC) student newspaper, el Don, and its digital counterpart, were awarded the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) National Pacemaker Award, one of the highest honors bestowed to collegiate news publications. Winners were announced during the ACP/College Media Association (CMA) Fall National College Media Convention awards ceremony, presented virtually on Oct. 22-24, 2020.

These awards continue the 2019-2020 staff’s storied, award-winning year that included a first-place win at the 62nd Annual Southern California Journalism Awards.

The ACP National Pacemaker Award, presented annually since 1921, is considered the Pulitzer Prize of collegiate journalism and is the most prestigious academic honor bestowed upon college media in North America.

This marks the 27th and 28th National Pacemaker honors for SAC journalism students since 1991 — el Don was one of five community college newspapers honored with the National Newspaper Pacemaker.

The student website was one of three community colleges to win the National Online Pacemaker. Santa Ana College was the only California community college, however, to earn both awards among 4-year and private universities.

The ACP also recognized 2019-20 Social Media Editor Ashley Ramynke with third place honors in the Design-of-the-Year Competition for Newspaper Front Page, and 2020-21 News Editor Carrie Graham earned Honorable Mention for National College Reporter-of-the-Year award.

In other national marks of distinction, el Don and placed second in CMA's Pinnacle Award for Best College Media Organization. Also, staff artist Laura Diaz earned second place for Best Editorial Illustration, and 2020-21 Sports Editor Dorian Zavala received second place for Best Newspaper Sports Page/Spread. SAC's 2019-20 el Don Editor in Chief Lesly Guzman merited third place for Best Newspaper Nameplate.

"It is a privilege to be able to work with my teammates and win two National Pacemaker Awards for newspaper and online,” said el Don Editor-in-Chief Lesly Patricia Guzman Anastasio. “Our el Don student media are based on three principles: integrity, preparation, and excellence. These principles are the core of our reporting and our education," continued Guzman Anastasio. "Our professors and advisers provide us the tools, resources, guidance and support to be the ones making a difference for our generation. We continuously strive to improve ourselves to be better representatives for our community."

el Don newspaper.jpg 

Professor of Communications and Media Studies, and el Don advisor, Charles “Bud” Little, Jr. said the students earned all of the distinctions they have under their belts through many hours of hard work and determination.

"I am thrilled that the 2019-2020 Santa Ana College el Don student newspaper and the student website are Associated Collegiate Press National Pacemaker Award winners," said Little. "Our students are committed to each other and understand what it means to contribute to something bigger than themselves. They worked hard and are deserving of these academic achievements."​

The el Don has a 20-person staff that works 30 hours per week on average, going above and beyond their regular school days. It is this dedication and tenacity to top quality work, said Little, that has made the newspaper earn so much recognition over the years, including the Pacemaker award, the equivalent of a Pulitzer in collegiate-level journalism.

"I am honored to be part of such an incredible team of journalists and proud to have contributed to our newspaper and online Pacemaker wins," said el Don Sports Editor Dorian Zavala. "Our hard work and long hours and commitment to each other are satisfying and humbling. There is nothing like being the best in America!"

SAC Interim President Dr. Marilyn Flores said the college could not be more proud of the students, adding that their hard work and dedication are what make SAC great.

“The level of journalism that these students are accomplishing is truly astounding,” said Dr. Flores. “Their determination to produce top-quality journalism, all while maintaining their college schedules, personal lives, and more, is an inspiration to all of us at SAC.”

“It is both unique and remarkable that a journalism program enjoys so many years of consistent excellence and success, even in tough economic times,” said Dr. Kellori Dower, dean of Fine & Performing Arts division. “What is even more extraordinary is that the professors are caring and committed well beyond expectations. I am overjoyed with the accomplishments of our amazing students and faculty of the el Don!”

For more information about the elDon, visit its website at

SAC Public Affairs: Teresa Mercado-Cota
(714) 564-6105,

About Santa Ana College
Santa Ana College (SAC), which turned 100 years old in 2015, serves about 18,000 students each semester at its main campus in Santa Ana. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions, and provides invaluable workforce training for business and industry. In addition, another 11,000 students are served through the college’s School of Continuing Education located at Centennial Education Center. Ranked as one of the nation’s top, two-year colleges awarding associate degrees to Latino and Asian students, the college is also recognized throughout the state for its comprehensive workforce training programs for nurses, firefighters, law enforcement and other medical personnel. SAC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District.

Contact: Ruth Cossio Muniz

Phone: (714) 564-5201