TIPA 2011 yields awards, camaraderie, fun

Along with sixteen of my Accent colleagues – editors, writers, photo journalists and graphic designers – I competed at the 2011 Texas Intercollegiate Press Association (TIPA) conference that was held in Fort Worth from March 31 to April 1.

Accent, the Austin Community College newspaper, racked up 23 awards including third place for overall excellence and honorable mention in the Best in Show category for our March 28 issue.

This year TIPA was attended by approximately 500 students from 45 colleges, universities and community colleges, according to TIPA officials.

Just as significant as the awards and journalistic insights gained at TIPA, is the bonding that took place among our Accent family.

The fun began on the five-hour train ride from Austin to Fort Worth and continued throughout the three-day conference. We encouraged each other before our competitions, compared notes, explored the city and dined together. Memories were made, and images were captured with an assortment of point-and-shoot cameras and fancy Nikon and Canon SLR’s.

The bonding continued through group texting and an accidental, near-demolition of a light fixture in the hotel VIP lounge, which we affectionately call “Club 15th Floor.” Learning that the Accent budget does not include bail money, fostered camaraderie in a way that office chit-chat alone could not accomplish. The bail thing was all in jest, of course, and the light fixture in the lounge survived unscathed.

On our final night in Fort Worth, four of us lounged at the street-side veranda of the Mercury Chop House restaurant. Strings of tiny lights highlighted the trees and were reflected in our smiles as a steady breeze whispered against our faces. Two burgers, garnished and evenly divided among four plates,  confirmed that my dining companions and I had chosen the perfect restaurant on a perfect night. TIPA of 2011 was complete.

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