Espinoza wins fall 2021 Mark Finley award

Dec. 3, 2021

From L to R, Ana Teresa Espinoza, Vic Verbalaitis, and Sohi Kang.

Three students from the School of Journalism have won scholarships after participating in the semi-annual Mark Finley Gold Pen Award for Best Beginning News Writer Contest on Wednesday night.

Ana Teresa Espinoza won first place and a scholarship of $1,000. Vic Verbalaitis won second and a $750 scholarship. Sohi Kang received third place and a $500 scholarship.

All students who participated received an engraved pen.

Sixteen students from Professor Fred Brock’s JOUR 205 class participated in the contest, which had students writing stories on a deadline.

The students interviewed Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly. Known around Tucson for her campaign posters featuring an illustration of her on a scooter, Cázares-Kelly spoke to the class about “about [her] journey to [local] office, systemic issues in voter registration, legislation & institutionalized White Supremacy.”

Cázares-Kelly, a UA alum,  member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, and the first Indigenous woman to win an elected seat in Pima County, spoke for about 30 minutes before answering questions from the class. Students then had an hour to write the story, which was judged blind, on a deadline.

All three winners are associated with the Daily Wildcat. Espinoza has worked both as a news and arts & life reporter. Verbalaitis reports news and enterprise and is part of the KAMP Student Radio’s executive board as the mobile DJ director. Previously Kang worked as an arts & life reporter, copy editor and news reporter. She is currently an assistant news editor.

Professors Carol Schwalbe and Geoff Ellwand and alums Joe Ferguson (’06) and Brett Fera (’05) judged the contest.

The contest is named for the late Mark Finley, a 1934 UA graduate who was a journalist and assistant to the publisher of Hearst’s Boston newspaper for 17 years.