Aberdeen Central graduate wins National Student Production Emmy

Paysen took home the award in the News Report-Serious News category.
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 5:20 PM CST
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - When Hunter Paysen submitted a story that was close to his heart for his broadcast journalism class in high school, he had no idea it would one day win him a national award.

Paysen graduated from Aberdeen Central High School in 2021. During a brainstorming session his senior year, he got the idea to do a story on his older sister, Melissa Galeana, and her journey with Stage 5 kidney failure.

”One day it just kind of clicked in me that, ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve been living this incredible story for almost our entire life,” said Paysen.

Paysen’s story caught the eye of his teacher, and they submitted it for a Regional Emmy and won.

”When I won the regional Emmy, it was pretty emotional just because I wasn’t expecting it at all,” said Paysen.

When the National Student Production Emmy Awards aired Thursday, Paysen was so convinced he wouldn’t win that he didn’t even watch.

”I got a call saying congratulations and all that, and that’s when it kind of hit me that this is actually very, very cool,” said Paysen.

Paysen took home the award in the News Report-Serious News category.

“Melissa’s Kidney Search” highlights the obstacles Galeana faced and the impact it had on her and Paysen’s family. The story, however, has a happy ending. Last year, Galeana’s stepfather was able to successfully donate a kidney to her.

For Galeana, she’s just proud of her brother and his talent when telling her story.

”I felt like I wanted to get it out there because it’s hard being a young person with something like that, so it’s good to share it. I was excited to. I was really proud of Hunter, and that was really the only emotion I felt,” said Galeana.

Paysen says the award isn’t for him, it’s for his entire family.

“You know, this isn’t just a moment for me. This is a moment for our entire family. Melissa’s bravery and all that, it’s the whole family that is very...that this is a moment for all of them,” said Paysen.

Paysen says the one thing he hopes comes with telling his sister’s story is that more people consider donating blood or becoming an organ donor.

“Any donation helps, whether it’s blood or something as extreme and significant as an organ. You’re not just affecting one singular person. You can change an entire family,” said Paysen.

Paysen is currently stationed in New Mexico with the U.S. Air Force, but says he is currently looking into college programs and hopes to pursue a career in journalism.