The Patriot-News crime reporter's work on the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal earned her the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting Monday.
Sara Ganim, 24, broke the high-profile story in March 2011, when she reported that the former Penn State assistant football coach was being investigated by a grand jury.
The story hit mainstream media in November after Sandusky was charged, following a two-year investigation. The 68-year-old former defensive coordinator has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting 10 boys over a 15-year period.
Ganim and fellow staff at the Harrisburg, Pa.-based Patriot-News earned the award Monday "for courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive" story, read a statement on the Pulitzer website.
The scandal rocked the Penn State community, eventually leading to the firing of legendary football coach Joe Paterno, the resignation of university president Graham Spanier and perjury charges against Penn State officials Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.
Ganim, a 2008 Penn State graduate, and fellow Patriot-News staffers continued to break individual stories about the scandal despite the convergence of several major media outlets on State College, Pa., as the story gained national prominence.
A number of journalists at the newspaper have been commended as a result of its coverage, with Ganim -- who started in journalism while growing up in Florida -- the recipient of four other awards.
"The great thing about The Patriot-News is that we all worked really well together, and everyone kind of pulled their weight," Ganim said. "I think probably at one point or another everyone has had a hand in this story. This has really been a company effort, and I think we should all be proud of each other for all the work that everyone did."
The Sandusky story also has seen The Patriot-News gain widespread attention nationwide.
"I think it has shown us, and it's shown our community and it's shown our readers, that we can do important work that makes a difference," publisher John Kirkpatrick said.
The Pulitzer Prizes are awarded annually by Columbia University for achievements in journalism. Winners receive a certificate and $10,000.