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Student-produced Chester magazine wins gold

The inaugural issue of Chester magazine, an online and print publication about the city produced by Widener University students, has won gold in the 2016 CUPPIE Awards presented by the professional organization CUPRAP, College and University Public Relations and Associated Professionals. The magazine took home the top prize in the Wild Card category. All of the stories were planned, reported, written, edited and illustrated by students.
Chester Mag cover

The students were enrolled in Magazine Journalism, a spring 2014 class taught by Sam Starnes, editor of Widener Magazine and marketing writer for Widener University. Starnes served as editorial advisor, and Melanie Franz, a senior graphic designer and an adjunct faculty member at Widener, served as graphic design advisor.

Stories in the magazine include a photo essay about the city, profiles of the Chester Children’s Chorus, the Laran Bronze Inc. foundry, a fertility doctor at the Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Phatso’s Bakery and other Chester eateries, and a story about the city’s plans for a cultural corridor.

The university awarded Starnes and his five students a $1,000 Schmutz Student Engagement Mini Grant to produce the magazine. The grant is distributed annually to support undergraduate student-led projects that focus on Ches­ter and are developed in collaboration with a Chester community partner to address the city’s needs. John F. Schmutz, Esquire, donor of the grant, serves on Widener’s Board of Trustees and is a retired senior vice president and general counsel for E. I. DuPont Nemours and Company.

Khalil Williams, a senior communication studies major and a native of Chester, wrote two stories and took several photographs that were published in the magazine. “I like the idea of being a storyteller,” said Williams, who in fall 2015 worked as an intern in the Philadelphia Inquirer newsroom. “I liked going into the outside world and seeing what’s going on and being able to share that with the rest of the public.”

Starnes received the Schmutz Mini Grant again for the current academic year to support the second issue of the Chester magazine, which is tentatively due out by the end of the semester. This issue builds on revitalization initiatives featured in the first edition and highlights new arts-based engagement efforts in the city.

The first issue of Chester magazine can currently be viewed online at

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del. are proud to be a tobacco-free. Visit the university website,