Island Waves Wins Two Texas Intercollegiate Press Association Awards

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS ‒ Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s student-run newspaper, Island Waves, won the Second Place ‒ Overall Excellence: Newspaper award in Division 3 of the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association (TIPA)’s Previously Published contest during its virtual 2021 TIPA Convention, held March 25-26 on Zoom.

Island Waves submitted three editions for the contest:

  • We Can and We Will: Women’s History Month Commemorative Issue ‒ 31, Issue 3, April 9, 2020
  • Bare Hands: Created Through Distance ‒ 31, Issue 4, April 23, 2020
  • Eight Months Later: Community Life During the Year of Our Pandemic ‒ 31, Issue 11, Nov. 12, 2020

Jennifer Bray, Island Waves advisor and professional assistant professor of Communications, said two of the submissions focused on COVID-19, including a 30-page issue featuring art created during the pandemic. The third submission highlighted the voting rally that Island Waves sponsored in March 2019. 

“I believe that all three of the issues the judges considered not only represent fine journalism, but also the perseverance and tenacity of our staff during incredibly challenging times,” said Bray.

As with all student activities that managed to take place after March 2020, content in these Island Waves issues was produced according to COVID-19 protocols, which evolved throughout the year.

“I’ve had so many proud moments, but I think my proudest was our first virtual meeting during the beginning of quarantine,” Caleigh Sowder ’20, former editor-in-chief, said. “Even though the entire team [was] dealing with their own struggles, many of them continued to work. They recognized how important it was to keep our readers informed and connected to their university.”

When Sowder graduated in spring 2020, Matthew Tamez ’21 took over as editor-in-chief.

“A lot of the groundwork was laid by my predecessor, Caleigh, who was editor-in-chief for the Women’s History Month issue and Bare Hands issue,” Tamez said. “I was managing editor during that time, training to take her place when she graduated. As such, I had a lot of pride in these issues as they came out.”

In addition, Karina Garcia ’21, an Island Waves reporter and anchor of the campus news video program, The Riptide, won the Third Place ‒ Feature Story award in Division 3. Garcia’s story, “TAMU-CC professor Gabriel Duran collabs with Latin music and Corpus Christi legend A.B. Quintanilla on upcoming film project.” provides details on how a new documentary series created by Duran, assistant professor of media arts, and Latin music artist A.B. Quintanilla, first came to light.

“We believed this was an important thing to cover because it highlights the achievements of one of our own professors here at the university, and it also features musical and Corpus legend, A.B. Quintanilla,” Garcia said. “For the longest time, it was one of the most-read stories on our website.”

Garcia said news of her award took her by surprise.

“When I first heard of it, I was kind of shocked,” Garcia said. “I was really excited! I called my mom and she was really proud, so it was a great feeling overall.”

Island Waves was previously distributed physically throughout the campus; however, due to COVID-19, the publication has gone exclusively online at

“Because of our [previous] production timeline, there was always the risk of the content in the paper being outdated and irrelevant due to how quickly information spreads in a digital age,” said Sierra Lutz ‘20, who earned a degree in graphic design. “Now that the paper is exclusively web-based, there is a lot more opportunity to have big front cover stories that are next-day coverage, and the window of having a story go stale isn’t as much of a risk.”

Over 450 students and advisors typically attend the TIPA convention, but due to COVID-19 and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, it was held entirely via Zoom, including workshops, presentations, and contests.