Totem has been an accomplished, award-winning publication since 1996. 2014 will be a year to continue the tradition with the winning of two prestigious awards from the American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA).

ASPA presented Totem with the First Place with Special Merit and the Outstanding Design Concept Awards. The awards were received in the fall of 2014 for the 2013 submitted issue.

Totem earned perfect grading in all but two categories. The total points that could have been earned were 1,000 and Totem scored 960.

Gannon’s scores consisted of, 365 out of 400 for content coverage, 200 out of 200 for organization, 150 out of 150 for design, 180 out of 180 for presentation and 65 out of 70 for creativity.

According to ASPA, Totem is a model for those up-and-coming magazines and an inspiration for those magazines that haven’t quite aced the necessary skills.

It is a literary magazine that teaches students the fundamentals of publishing, good writing skills, proof reading, editing skills, concept design, composition and promotes a community of young writers and gives them esteem, according to the ASPA congratulatory letter to Totem.

The 2013 Totem’s editor-in -chief was Siobhan Brown, now graduated Gannon alumna, said she is honored to receive the awards.

“Winning is a privilege to keep the tradition going for Gannon and having Totem recognized nationally is an honor,” Brown said. “It was all about making Totem personal, not only for the Totem and staff members but for all those that submitted as well.

“Also, a big thank you to the Gannon Press for helping make Totem what it was; it couldn’t have been done without them.”

Current editor-in-chief and 2013 marketing editor Sammie Janik said from all the work that goes into Totem, it is a real honor to be presented with these two awards.

“Collecting submissions, planning the layout of the book and also binding the books by hand made the books themselves works of art,” Janik said. “It is time consuming, but the way the Totem turns out is definitely worth it.

“I think winning this award reflects all the hard work that everybody put into the edition, not only the staff but all those who submitted to make Totem such an incredible work of all types of art.”

Totem accepts all original artwork of poetry (any form), prose (fiction, creative nonfiction, historical fiction), artwork (any type of artwork: paintings, watercolors, charcoal drawings, pencil drawings, digital graphics, photography) and music, Janik said.

The deadline for artwork is Tuesday, and anyone who submits art is eligible for a chance to be the winner of the cover for the 2014-2015 issue as well as a $100 cash price.

However, the deadline for written work submissions is due Nov. 18 and they must be submitted by email to

Artwork can be submitted by taking a picture of your work or Janik said if you would rather have your work judged in person, you are allowed to drop off your artwork to the Totem office in Room 3242 of the Palumbo Academic Center.

Janik said to please email to set up a time to drop off your work.

Submitting work and being a reader of the magazine isn’t the only way to contribute. Being a staff member of Totem is rewarding and beneficial to not only the student but the magazine as well.

Currently there are five staff members working on Totem. Janik said she is trying to keep the spirit and energy of the Totem alive.

She said she has wanted to be a part of Totem since seeing it for the first time freshmen year – especially editor-in-chief.

Janik said she feels really honored to be a part of it this year.

“There is definitely pressure because previous issues have been so beautiful,” Janik said.

“I think it’s a little scary because you don’t want to let people down and you want to continue the Totem’s success.

“So it is really important to me to make sure that this year’s Totem, which will be unveiled at English Awards Night in April, is just as amazing.”

For more information about Totem contact

This article by Becky Hilker originally appeared in The Gannon Knight on Oct. 29, 2014.