Plain Talk columnist takes top honors Vermillion Plain Talk columnist Paula Damon, director of marketing and communications at Briar Cliff University, earned three first place awards and one third place award in the 2009 South Dakota Press Women (SDPW) Communications Contest. Results of the competition were announced earlier this month at the South Dakota Press Women's Annual Conference in Rapid City. First-place winners on the state level advance to the National Federation of Press Women Communications Contest (NFPW) for judging. National winners will be announced in September at the NFPW Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX. Damon's winning entries were selected from her weekly column, "My Story Your Story," which appears in the Plain Talk. Judges evaluated her work in three categories: Humorous, General, Informational and Specialized. Taking first place in the "Humorous" category were Damon's entries entitled "Easy does it when penetrating Vikings territory" and "Notes from a small town on that infectious thing called friendliness." Winning top honors in the "General" category were her columns "Experiencing the giving side of Mother's Day by proxy" and "Italian-American family mandates 'English Only Spoken Here.'" Also winning first place in the "Informational" category were Damon's works entitled "Quitting coffee? Top 10 tips for breaking the habit" and "Learning self-reliance causes considerable consternation." Damon received third place recognition in the "Specialized" category for her entries entitled "Simple truth about why I don't like watching football on TV" and "Cafeteria lady dishes up plateful of memories." In 1993, Damon won first place nationwide in the NFPW Communications Contest and first place statewide in Iowa Press Women Communications Contest. Previously, her writing has won numerous awards in Iowa and South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests. In her role at Briar Cliff University, Damon oversees marketing and communications for the university, including media relations, advertising and the Web. A resident of southeast South Dakota, she holds a bachelor's degree in mass communications and a master's degree in English from The University of South Dakota, Vermillion.