ECC alum named finalist for national award

Shelby Anne Taylor, former Observer editor-in-chief, recognized for her profile of ECC student Ernesto Olea.


Dominic Di Palermo

Former Observer Editor-in-Chief Shelby Taylor is a finalist for the Associated Collegiate Press’ Pacemaker award for feature writing. (This photo from Oct. 2022 Taylor as she moderated an interview with Dr. Ngozi Ezike, then director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.)

Indie Wilson and Eric D. Rangel

Elgin Community College alum Shelby Anne Taylor was named as a finalist for a Pacemaker award for her profile of  ECC student Ernesto Olea and his HIV diagnosis.  Taylor served as Observer editor-in-chief in the Fall 2021 semester before graduating ECC. 

Taylor’s story is one of 10 finalists in the feature writing category. The Pacemakers are given by the Associated Collegiate Press, a national organization made up up collegiate journalists and advisers. (The Pacemaker Awards have been awarded since 1927). The winner will be announced at the National College Media Convention in Washington DC on Friday, Oct. 28. Taylor’s story is the only community college finalist for the feature writing category.

Taylor’s approach to her writing focuses on emotional appeal. 

“What do I want to make people feel?” Taylor asked herself this before beginning a writing endeavor. A crucial part of this piece to her was to highlight the type of person Olea is. 

“He is the kindest, most accepting human being who loves with his whole heart and hopefully I was able to convey that,” Taylor said. “I love the idea of being able to convey information in a way that leaves a reader with an emotional experience.” 

Interviewing Olea numerous times throughout the fall 2021 semester, Taylor strived to be honest in her writing process. 

“(Writing) comes very naturally to me,” Taylor said. “Once I have an idea of what I want to say and have the sources, it just clicks together. It was something that my brain knew exactly what to do.”  

Taylor has won multiple awards when she was an Observer staff member. Taylor received first place in Illinois Community College Journalism (ICCJA) award in feature writing for Olea’s story, and second place in ICCJA’s award as Reporter of the Year. Taylor is currently working towards her Bachelor’s at the University Of Illinois at Chicago and received UIC’s 2022-2023 English Departmental Tuition Scholarship for professional writing.