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NPR has announced the winners for its first-ever Student Podcast Challenge: College Edition. Rather than pick one student-produced show as its winner, a team of judges instead picked two champions after what NPR says was “much discussion” and a “judging process like no other.” 

One winner is He’s Just 23 Chromosomes from Colorado College’s Anya Steinberg. The show explored what it felt like to learn that her biological father — a sperm donor she had always been told was a doctor — was in fact a jazz musician.The podcast featured original music by Daniel Archibald.

NPR “All Things Considered” host Michel Martin was among the judges. She said the show was “emotionally sophisticated” as Steinberg “showed her openness and a willingness to be interested in other people's point of view.”

Steinberg, a senior at Colorado College, said she was “practically vibrating with excitement” when she learned she was one of the two winners. “It was scary to put that much of myself out there in a podcast, and to know that people heard my story and resonated with the things that I shared means everything to me,” she said.

The other winner is Competition with the Best from Penn State University’s Miriam Colvin. It reveals the story of a 14-year-old Cassius Clay, who would, of course, be known to history as Muhammad Ali, and a little-known run-in he had with some rough farm boys from Indiana.

"There was definitely a lot of thought and planning behind this podcast," said Edith Chapin, Vice President and Executive Editor of NPR News. "The slow reveal was very impressive."

Colvin said she grew up listening to the story from her grandfather and she always wanted to know how much of it was true. "This story has been told around my family for years and years. It's a story that I felt deserved to be recorded and preserved for a long time, so I created this podcast," said Colvin. "Now that I've won, it's even more exciting that a large audience will be able to hear it." Colvin is a freshman at Penn State.

During the coming weeks, the pubcaster will speak with the winners and share their stories on NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” radio broadcasts. NPR also gave out a few honorable mentions. See that list HERE.

For the first time in 2021, the NPR Student Podcast Challenge was open to college students. NPR says it received podcast entries from students around the country.

NPR will announce the finalists in their Student Podcast Challenge for middle and high school students this month.