Independent takes home three awards from ICPA


The Independent staff with their three new awards. From left to right: Robert Kukla, arts and life editor; Amaris E. Rodriguez, opinions and co-managing editor; Robin Bridges, editor-in-chief; Nicole F. Anderson, news and co-managing editor; and Joanna Vaklin, writer and comic artist.

Nicole F. Anderson, News and Co-Managing Editor

NEIU’s student-run newspaper, the Independent, took home three awards at the Illinois College Press Association (ICPA) convention in Chicago, Illinois, on Saturday, Feb. 15.

Opinions Editor, Amaris E. Rodriguez, received honorable mention for headline writing; former Editor-in-Chief, Cecilia Hernandez received honorable mention for best opinions story; and the staff as a whole placed for best front page.

Independent Opinions Editor, Amaris E. Rodriguez, said, “Being part of the newspaper has been a great experience and having the ability to attend ICPA is always an event I look forward too. This year we took as many editors and staff writers as possible to be able to submerge ourselves in the world of journalism. We learned about marketing, pitching, writing as well as how to prepare for internships. The Independent took home three awards and I’m very proud of our staff.  I was surprised to have won an honorable mention for headline writing and honored to have been able to contribute to our ever increasing number of awards.”

ICPA is where journalists and advisers from two and four year colleges in Illinois attend sessions in varying array of journalism topics led by professional journalists and experts. These sessions are another way to teach student journalists how to become better at their craft and excel in their careers after graduation.

Joanna Vaklin, a writer and comic artist with the Independent, said, “The ICPA conference was filled with passionate students of journalism, and it invigorated me and the rest of the Independent team. ICPA was my first journalism conference, so I was inspired when I saw all of the schools that put time and dedication into the creation of their newspapers. The workshops allowed us to have a peek into the journalism career with speakers that work for big time newspapers. The conference made me motivated to be part of making the Independent important and engaging to NEIU and the community.”  

This year, ICPA held sessions such as: Covering City Hall (in Chicago or on your campus); Becoming a Campus Watchdog with Data and Public Records; Sales for a New Era; Landing a Meaningful Internship; Everyone Has an Opinion; amongst others. Along with the sessions and awards, the student newspaper staff members are given the opportunity to have their paper critiqued by a professional journalist to receive insight on what does and doesn’t work.

Independent Arts and Life Editor, Robert Kukla, said, “Conventions are important because it gives students who are pursuing a career in journalism or publishing a chance to network and build connections with fellow students around the country, and potential employers. One thing that I took away from this recent convention is that journalism is constantly evolving and a way to maintain a career is to make yourself adaptable to all areas of journalism whether it’s editing, writing or layout design. The more you have up your sleeves in skills, the better chances of getting ahead in the industry.”

Every year, the Independent competes against two and four-year college newspapers at ICPA such as the Alestle (Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville); Bradley Scout (Bradley University); Columbia Chronicle (Columbia College Chicago); the Daily Egyptian (Southern Illinois University Carbondale); DePaulia (DePaul University); Chicago Flame (University of Illinois-Chicago); The Journal (University of Illinois-Springfield); and Loyola Phoenix (Loyola University).

Within the next three weeks, the Independent staff will attend the Associated College Press convention in La Jolla, California, and the College Media Association in New York City, New York.