cover of The Point magazine

Less than three years since its debut, a magazine run by Biola students has captured one of the most prestigious honors in collegiate journalism.

The Point, published twice a year through Biola’s journalism department, edged out magazines from across the nation this fall to win a coveted Pacemaker award — one of the highest honors a college publication can receive.

“It was really unexpected,” said Elizabeth Choi (’08), who served as editor of the winning Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 issues. “It definitely gave us a lot of hope that just because you’re a smaller university doesn’t mean that you can’t produce the same quality of work as much larger schools.”

Given out annually by the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP), the Pacemaker recognizes magazines for their excellence in writing, photography and design. The Point was one of just nine magazines to receive the honor this year, out of 78 submissions.

Judges from The New York Times Magazine helped to select the finalists, which included publications from such schools as the University of Notre Dame, Harvard College and theCalifornia Institute of Technology.

In honoring The Point, judges noted that the magazine’s contents “for the most part reflect the religious orientation of the school … [T]he issues addressed are substantive, and the neat, tidy and somewhat modest images feel in keeping with the subject matter.”

In addition to the award for the overall publication, Biola junior Karin Hamilton was also recognized with an individual award in the ACP’s Story of the Year competition. Her lengthy profile of a Biola alumna’s difficult journey through divorce and single motherhood won second place in the competition’s feature story category.

Hamilton said she was in disbelief when she first learned the story had been nominated, and even more so when she received a barrage of text messages from friends at the awards ceremony letting her know she had won.

“I was just absolutely shocked that a story with such a blatantly Christian perspective could go that far — to be recognized by the Associated Collegiate Press,” she said, adding that God’s hand was evident throughout the long process of finding and crafting the story.

The Point debuted in the spring of 2006 and is produced each semester by a team of student editors and a magazine practicum class made up of students from Biola’s journalism, art and English programs.

Journalism professor Tamara Welter, who serves as the magazine’s faculty adviser, said the award is a testament to the students’ passion to fulfill their God-given callings.

“They are driven to do good journalism,” Welter said. “You see it when they come in to class: They’re excited to do real journalism, not just class assignments.”

Though still in its infancy, the magazine has already earned several honors. In February, it received a first-place honor from the California College Media Association — edging out several much larger private and public schools from across the state. It placed in the top three in the same competition in each of the prior two years.