San Diego Local Community News

Nicolette Luna joined Southwestern College’s newspaper when she was just 14. She was ACP’s 2023 National College Reporter of the Year.

She recently earned a proclamation from the City of Chula Vista for her achievements in journalism

Just a few months after earning a national award for her accomplishments in journalism, Southwestern College student Nicolette Luna has been recognized in her hometown for making a name for herself in a very short time.

The Chula Vista City Council this month presented the 17-year-old student with a proclamation in recognition of her distinguished young career which has included work with the Southwestern College’s The Sun newspaper and El Sol Magazine, and the recent National College Reporter of the Year Award from the Associated Collegiate Press.

Things happened pretty quickly for Luna, who decided in June 2020 to enroll in journalism classes at Southwestern College when she was just 14 during the pandemic while still a student at Bonita Vista High School in Chula Vista. The dual-enrollment option gave her the break of a lifetime when she signed up for Journalism 101 and started writing for the college newspaper. Pretty soon, her stories were earning awards and she eventually took over as editor.

Luna said she was thrilled to receive the Chula Vista City Council’s recognition for her work, adding that the support she received from her Southwestern College journalism professor, Max Branscomb, had a lot to do with her success.

“Receiving these recognitions felt amazing,” she said. “It was the build-up of all the hard work I put in and also the work of those that supported me like my family, colleagues and Dr. Branscomb.”

Don’t let Luna’s age fool you. As editor, she skillfully directed the work of college students, some of whom were twice her age. Last year, her work was awarded three first-place spots at the Society of Professional Journalists banquet, and she was invited to write an op-ed piece in the San Diego Union Tribune. The California College Media Association, San Diego Society of Professional Journalists, and the Journalism Association of Community Colleges have each given Luna multiple awards.

“Nikki is a brilliant and hard-working young lady who is a gifted writer and leader. She led El Sol Magazine and The Sun with vision and energy to national championships before she was old enough to drive a car,” Branscomb said.

Luna said she would like to become part of a vanguard of young Latinas working to diversify the American news media and improve its representation of underrepresented journalists. After

high school, she hopes to move to New York City, attend Columbia University, work in the field of magazine publication or law and start her own magazine.

From the looks of it, this recent award from the City of Chula Vista won’t be her last as she sets her sights on a promising journey ahead.

“Take any opportunity that comes your way, no matter how difficult it may seem,” Luna said. “It will be worth it.”

ABOUT SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE:

Southwestern College, the only public institution of higher education in southern San Diego County, provides services to a diverse community of students by offering a wide range of high-quality academic programs and comprehensive student services — including those offered through distance education. Southwestern College also stimulates the development and growth of the region through its educational, economic and workforce opportunities, community partnerships and services. For more information, visit swccd.edu.

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