As it turns out, the nursery song was correct: the wheels on the bus do go round and round—and so do those of rental vans. Members of the staff of the South Texan would have had plenty of time to trot out all 38 verses to this tune on their six-hour long drive to Dallas, Texas. On Wednesday, March 30, 15 students representing Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s student-run newspaper, and the Javelina Broadcasting Network, headed to compete alongside other collegians involved in communications at the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association (TIPA).
From the drive to the lodgings, space was spare until the group’s return on Sunday, April 3. However, any amount of squeezing into seats and suitcases could not shrink an expansive experience at TIPA. In the process of clearing luggage to unpack another school week, the staff of the South Texan met to discuss all that was gleaned in Dallas. Collectively, we would like to submit that the time at TIPA was not only an opportunity to practice individual skills, but to grow together as student colleagues.
Angela Garza, editorial editor and photographer for the South Texan explains that close quarters encouraged the already-existent sense of camaraderie among staff members. She recounts: “Five girls. Four nights. Three hair dryers. Two beds. One shower. To most, this sounds like an absolute nightmare, but to me and the rest of us on the trip, it was great.”
Garza took part in events covering magazine design, headline writing, and editorial writing. While she describes it as a full plate, her three helpings of competition did not disallow downtime. “It definitely wasn’t all work and no play in the big city, though,” Garza recalls. “We had plenty of free time to explore the city and bond as a group.”
Apart from strengthening ties between staff members, TIPA offered application to the communications-related skills coursed through in classrooms. Veronica Cepeda, photographer for the South Texan, noted that: “For me, being part of this event was more than just an interesting experience.”
Elaborating, Cepeda explained that what caused TIPA to stick out to her was the chance it provided to hone skills in. “I was able to engage photography as a real-life experience, as well as challenges that I had to resolve and overcome. It was very fascinating to be able to be part of this community of people who share media to the rest of the world. I learned so much from it,” she recounts.
Cepeda participated in events across the board; she competed in Spanish radio announcing, the feature photo contest, and a two-person photo essay alongside fellow photographer for the South Texan, Angel Castillo. This last event underlined Garza’s earlier observations: that the trip’s real tip was its support of teamwork.
From his own lens, Angel Castillo agrees with Cepeda. Apart from their joint-effort in photo essay, Castillo participated in news photography and sports photography events. It was a mix of subjects—something that he can appreciate. “I’m a diverse person, I know how to play piano, guitar, and ukulele. I’m certified in Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Premiere Pro CC. I love learning about everything, and photography is actually more than a hobby: it’s a passion,” Castillo explained. He is enthusiastic for what growth he will have between now and next year’s competition: “I can’t wait until next year, because I’ll have so much time to learn even more and improve on my skills!”
Thursday, March 31, and Friday, April 1, were the contest days. Afterward, awards were presented on Saturday, April 2. For her part, Garza nabbed an honorable mention in the editorial writing event. Alongside in success was reporter Frankie Cardenas, who received honorable mentions in two categories: single subject design, and that of a sports column.
Yet, Editor-in-Chief Crystal Zamarron summed what her hopes had been as their van first curled out of Kingsville. “I just wanted every one of us from Texas A&M University-Kingsville to do their best. No matter the results: I just wanted everyone to have fun with it, and learn from this journey.” She was not disappointed by the trip’s rankings in this sense. “I love TIPA for the fact that we all get closer as a group. We get to know more about each other than just doing our job at the newsroom, or as classmates. My individual experience was great! I tried something new as Feature Writing and Newspaper Design. They were both competitive contests, but I enjoyed every single second of it.”
In describing the trek to TIPA, we at the South Texan hold that the trip was a success in more than one way. Apart from making skills more distinct, it furthered the sense of staff as a team—ensuring that things continue to roll on smoothly.
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