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As with any die-hard journalist, Vince Filak gets a little leery when he’s the story.

However, there was no way his most recent honor wasn’t earning a headline.

The National Scholastic Press Association named Filak, assistant professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and adviser to the award-winning student-newspaper, the Advance-Titan, one of five 2012 Pioneer Award winners.

Filak found himself at a loss for words when the NSPA announced on Aug. 27 that he earned one of five 2012 Pioneer Awards. It is the highest honor the organization bestows upon high schools and colleges. Nominations may only be submitted from previous winners.

“If you look up and down the list of recipients, you find the true giants of journalism: Earl English, Louis Ingelhart, Marilyn Weaver, George Gallup,” Filak said. “The list goes on and on. To have my name associated with them in any way, shape or form is truly amazing and humbling to me.”

The Pioneer Award is bestowed upon people as a lifetime-achievement honor for decades of service to scholastic journalism. Filak is among the youngest to receive the award and is believed to be the first from UW Oshkosh.

The company he now finds himself in puts him into some additionally rare air.

“Earl English won it,” Filak said. “In 2003, I received my Ph.D. from the Earl English Graduate Program at the school of journalism at Mizzou.”

Filak previously served as adviser of the Daily News at Ball State University and vice president of College Media Advisers. “He has conducted scholarly research about scholastic journalism, taught at conventions and summer workshops and completed more than 100 critiques just in the past two years,” the NSPA announced Aug. 27.

Student journalists of the Advance-Titan, under Filak’s guidance, have earned multiple awards for their work on the newspaper, published weekly during the fall and spring academic year at UW Oshkosh.

In February, the Advance-Titan earned first-place recognition from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association (WNA) Foundation annual awards. The paper was one of two first-place general excellence award winners.

Filak and four other NSPA Pioneer Award honorees will be recognized at the adviser luncheon of the Journalism Education Association and NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in San Antonio Nov. 17.

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