Former IowaWatch reporter Lu Shen has won a Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Region 7 Mark of Excellence Award for a story she wrote about University of Iowa difficulty in 2013-14 helping Chinese students adjust to Iowa. The award was announced at a regional meeting March 30 in Omaha, Nebraska. Shen, who joined CNN Beijing after graduating from the University of Iowa in December 2014 and also a former Daily Iowan reporter, won first place for online news reporting for her story, “Iowa Chinese students struggle to adjust, feel lack of support,” published by IowaWatch.org on June 24, 2014. IowaWatch assistant editor Sarah Hadley and former IowaWatch reporters Katie Kuntz and Inma Mateos, both of the University of Iowa, and incoming IowaWatch summer intern Makayla Tendall and frequent IowaWatch contributor Danielle Ferguson of Iowa State University were finalists for the regional student journalism awards. These awards were for the SPJ’s Region 7, which comprises Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Three students were cited — one for first and two others as finalists — in each of several categories.