Kernel staff wins General Excellence award from KPA for third year running


A slide from the Kentucky Press Association’s awards show for 2021, showing the results of Kernel finishes in the Best Sports Page category.

Kernel staff

For the third year in a row, the Kentucky Kernel has taken home the top honor for collegiate papers in the state of Kentucky – the General Excellence award presented by the Kentucky Press Association.

“These awards show a standard of excellence the Kernel hits every year as well as an incredible dedication to the community it serves,” said Rick Childress, Kernel editor-in-chief 2019 – 2020.

The Kernel competes against other student publications in categories put forth by KPA. The awards are judged on an annual basis, with submissions from the previous year.

Individual Kernelites also racked up awards, with the Kernel garnering 17 first place finishes in sports, news and photography categories.

Kernel staffers swept seven categories: best sports columnist, best sports page, best feature picture, best picture essay, best use of social/multi-media, best business and best investigative story.

“I know the staff last year was working hard to serve campus even before the pandemic and I was proud to see them double down when crisis struck,” Childress said. “And as an alum, I’ve loved watching this year’s crew not only provide useful information to a community that needs it, but also strive to learn more and keep their leaders accountable in such a challenging environment.”

Student media adviser Ryan Craig won several awards of his own, including the Jon Fleischaker Freedom of Information award in the weekly publication division.

Kernel editor-in-chief Natalie Parks won the Fleischaker award for student publications and was named Kentucky student journalist of the year.

“I’m very proud of the effort and dedication of the Kentucky Kernel’s staff,” Craig said. “This is the third straight year where they proved what I’ve already known, that they are the best collegiate newsroom in Kentucky and, honestly, I feel, one of the best newsrooms in the entire country.”

Kernel staffers have picked up multiple other honors throughout collegiate awards season, the most recent being top-20 finishes by 2020 graduate Arden Barnes and Bailey Vandiver in the national Hearst awards program. Barnes placed in the multimedia narrative competition and Vandiver in explanatory reporting.

Full list of KPA awards:

Breaking news

1st place – Natalie Parks

3rd place – Emily Laytham

General news

3rd place – Bailey Vandiver

Feature story

2nd place – Natalie Parks


3rd place – Brianna Stanley

Sports columnist

1st place – Braden Ramsey

2nd place – Mohammad Ahmad

3rd place – Erika Bonner

Sports story

1st place – Mohammad Ahmad

2nd place – Braden Ramsey

Enterprise/analytical story

1st place – Sydney Momeyer

Investigative story

1st place – Natalie Parks

2nd place – Natalie Parks

3rd place – Bailey Vandiver and Arden Barnes

On-going coverage

1st and 2nd place – Kentucky Kernel


1st place – Callie Justice

2nd place – Emily Laytham

3rd place – Natalie Parks

Use of social media/multi-media

1st place – Natalie Parks

2nd place – Natalie Parks

3rd place – Sarah Michels


1st place – Arden Barnes

Special section 

2nd place – Kentucky Kernel


1st place – Rick Childress

Breaking news picture

2nd place – Michael Clubb

General news picture

1st place – Natalie Parks

2nd place – Jordan Prather

Feature picture

1st place – Michael Clubb

2nd place – Arden Barnes

3rd place – Michael Clubb

Sports picture

1st place – Michael Clubb

2nd place – Jordan Prather

Picture essay

1st place – Arden Barnes

2nd place – Arden Barnes

3rd place – Michael Clubb

Sports photo essay 

1st place – Jordan Prather, Michael Clubb, Victoria Rodgers

2nd place – Jordan Prather and Michael Clubb

Editorial page

1st place – Kentucky Kernel

Front page

Kentucky Kernel

Sports page

1st place – Haley Robey

2nd place – Haley Robey

3rd place – Kendall Boron

Best headline writer

1st place – Natalie Parks

2nd place – Kentucky Kernel

Certificate of merit – Best editorial writer, best editorial page