LEESBURG, Fla.—The Lake-Sumter State College Foundation honored its Distinguished Alumni and Hall of Fame recipients Tuesday night in a ceremony held at the Everett A. Kelly Convocation Center at the college’s Leesburg campus.
Nine individuals and a community organization were recognized for their achievements and contributions to the community in front of a large crowd that enjoyed a three-course dinner and video testimonials from the recipients.
Each year, the LSSC Foundation Board of Directors select the recipients from nominations made by the public to receive distinguished alumni awards. For the first time its 12-year history, two people were awarded the prestigious Professional Achievement Award, and one of the recipients was Inside Lake’s Publisher Marilyn Aciego.
Aciego discovered her passion for journalism at Lake-Sumter State College after taking a media class and later became editor of both The Angler and The Odyssey, LSSC’s student publications. She was hired by the Daily Commercial while she was still a student at LSSC and worked her way up to the lead cops and courts reporter. She covered numerous stories that gained national interest, including the death of beloved Sheriff Chris Daniels, a murder committed by identical twins and the disappearance of Trenton Duckett. Aciego’s coverage of these stories lead to appearances on Nancy Grace dozens of times and an episode of Evil Twins on Investigation Discovery.
She left the Daily Commercial in 2009 and began working for an international media organization in an entry-level position and was named Florida bureau chief just three years later. In 2010, she joined recently-retired attorney James Hope to write local stories for Hope’s Lake Legal News magazine, rising to editor-in-chief and then partnering with Hope to start the online edition that focused on breaking crime and public safety news.
In 2021, Aciego and Hope dissolved their partnership and Aciego rebranded Lake Legal News to Inside Lake and began covering general news along with crime news.
“Lake County was becoming a news desert,” Aciego said. “I knew it was time to start Inside Lake.”
It was these achievements that earned Aciego the prestigious Professional Achievement Award and Tuesday night she shared that honor with Sandra Wilson, a 1989 graduate of LSSC.
Lake-Sumter State College Foundation Distinguished Alumni and Hall of Fame 2023
- Marilyn Aciego—Distinguished Alumni, Professional Achievement Award
- Sandra Wilson— Distinguished Alumni, Professional Achievement Award
- Pat Atley— Distinguished Alumni, Scholar Award
- Christine Boodhoo— Distinguished Alumni, Valor Award
- Juliana Green— Distinguished Alumni, Community Engagement Award
- Andrew LoFaro—Distinguished Alumni, Graduate of the Last Decade Award
- Toni Upchurch— Hall of Fame, Faculty Award
- Kevin Yurasek— Hall of Fame, Staff Award
- Patrick Ryan— Hall of Fame, Athletics Award
- The Live Well Foundation of South Lake— Hall of Fame, Community Partner Award