Former Southwestern College journalism students Allison Sampite-Montecalvo and Misael Virgen were presented with Emmy Awards this weekend by the Pacific Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Sampite-Montecalvo and her team won in the journalism enterprise category for San Diego In-Depth features on veterans suicides, retiring Chargers football star Malcolm Floyd, a transgender student and Mi Escuelita, a preschool for endangered children. She is a former Viewpoints Editor at The Southwestern College Sun and a graduate of Humboldt State University.
Virgen was the editor on a project about Pearl Harbor survivors in San Diego County. He won numerous awards as a photographer at the Union-Tribune and before that, The Sun. He graduated from CSU Northridge.
SWC Professor of Journalism Dr. Max Branscomb said Sampite-Montecalvo and Virgen were outstanding students, and that he is “super proud of both of them.”
“Allison was one of the hardest working students I ever had,” Branscomb said. “She told me when she was a teenager that she wanted to be a successful professional journalist and s
he asked me what she needed to do to prepare. I gave her a lengthy list and she set out to do every single thing on the list. She’s a journalism tiger.”
Virgen was one of The Sun’s greatest ever photographers, Branscomb said.
“Besides having artistic genius, Misael was a gamer who was not afraid to get dirty,” he said. “He would climb trees, crawl in the mud or wait patiently for hours for the right light if it was what he needed to do to get the shot. He also has great people skills and makes his subjects feel comfortable.”
Branscomb said his former students are now teachers who are modeling the new realities of journalism.
“Allison and Misael went to work at a print newspaper as a writer and photographer and found themselves also working on videos, the website and other platforms,” he said. “Because they are smart and adaptive, they were able to transition to other forms of journalism with such skill they earned Emmy Awards. They are the face of the future of our profession.”