News Release

Santa Ana College’s el Don Newspaper One of the Best in the Nation

​Santa Ana, Calif. - Santa Ana College’s el Don newspaper won big at the Associated Collegiate Press awards at the recent National College Media Convention in Dallas, Texas, receiving top honors as a National Pacemaker and the coveted Pinnacle Award, among other accolades.

Considered to be the Pulitzer Prize of college journalism, the National Pacemaker award has been presented annually since 1921. Publications are judged on excellence in design, editing, writing, reporting and photography. Only five other community colleges throughout the nation were selected as recipients at the awards ceremony and this year marks the 24th time SAC has been honored since 1991.

One day before receiving the Pacemaker nod, el Don was bestowed the College Media Association’s Pinnacle Award for the Best 2-Year College Newspaper in America.

Although students were unable to attend the awards, as the college was respecting a district resolution to honor the state’s travel ban, el Don’s advisor, Charles “Bud” Little was proud of his students’ accomplishments. “I’ve had the pleasure of teaching and working with this group of el Don students for an entire academic year, and I can assure you that these successes are only a hint of what’s to come,” he said.

In addition to receiving the pair of desired distinctions, individual awards were given to el Don’s staff members, students Laura Garcia, Aurielle Weiss and R. Nicanor Santana. Garcia and Weiss, the paper’s editors, received an honorable mention in the 2017 Design of the Year Newspaper Page One category, for the May 1, 2017 issue with the image of a drag queen and headline “Queens for a Day, Communications Studies Department hosts event to educate students on the drag community.” Garcia also received a fourth place finish in the 2017 Design of the Year Newspaper Page/Spread category for the April 3, 2017 issue with a two-page pagination containing 11 photos and the story, “Trump Time O.C. Marchers Rally, Tempers flare in Huntington Beach over support of President Trump at the Make America Great Again Demonstration.”

El Don’s R. Nicanor Santana won the SAC’s top individual award, placing third in the 2017 Reporter of the Year Two Year College Reporter category. Santana’s stories over the 2016-2017 school year included, “Veterans with Mental Health Issues Find Help in Santa Ana,” “California Voters Legalize Recreational Marijuana” and “A New Era of Protest for Santa Ana’s Youth,” all three of which were submitted into the competition.

“I am delighted at their academic progress and their dedication to improving their skills daily,” said Little. “All three are wonderfully talented and committed students, and I am so proud of their many accomplishments.”

A full list of award winners can be found on the Associated Collegiate Press website,

Since 1990, SAC’s journalism students have won more than 1,700 first place honors in national, state and regional competition. In 2008, el Don was inducted into the ACP’s College Journalism Hall of Fame. The program has been offered at SAC since 1923 and is considered one of the college’s academic pillars. The el Don newspaper can be read online at

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, provides invaluable workforce training, and customized 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.

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Contact: Judy Iannaccone

Phone: (714) 480-7503