The Associate Collegiate Press announced Las Positas College’s very own Brenda Cruz as a finalist for this year’s ACP Reporter of the Year Award.
Cruz, last year’s Editor-in-Chief of Naked magazine, is one of three college journalists up for the award in a contest that spans the United States and Canada.
The positive news of her inter-national recognition is a welcomed break for a school still reeling from layoffs and bad economical news.
“It was a nice surprise,” Cruz said on finding out about her recognition.
In ACP’s official press release posted August 29, Cruz carried LPC’s student publication Naked magazine into a list of big names that includes Indiana Daily Student (Indiana University), Minnesota Daily (University of Minnesota), and The Daily Collegian (Pennsylvania State University), as a nominee for one the most coveted awards in student journalism.
“I was just overwhelmed,” said LPC Mass Communications Department Head and Naked advisor, Melissa Korber. “I think it was just amazing what she had done.”
This is Cruz’s second nomi- nation from the ACP. Her first nomination came in 2010 under the Feature Story category for her article “Is Las Positas Really ‘Lost Potential’?” which garnered third place.
This year Cruz is considered for her three stories: “Is technology the new God?”, “Back to the future,” and “Is the end near?”
“I believe that I do have a chance. At least I know that my writing stands out,” Cruz said about her odds of winning the competition.
Cruz admitted that her competitive edge would be her articles’ entertainment value and her personal dose of comedy.
As to whether or not she expected to be a returning finalist in the largest international com- petition for North American college journalists, Cruz said humbly that although the thought of being recognized again was something she had “at the back of her mind,” she did not particularly anticipate the event.
“It’s pretty unheard of to be recognized twice by [the ACP], just because it’s such a large com- petition,” Cruz said, recalling that her prior winning article in 2010 was judged against more than six hundred others.
Since she started writing for Naked, Cruz has been consis- tently reeling in recognitions left and right for her works.
Aside from her first ACP, she has also won six writing awards and two honorable mentions from the Journalism Association of Community Colleges (JACC), an annual state convention held for college journalists.
“I’m pretty much in awe at her ability. She’s one of the most careful and precise writer I’ve ever seen,” Korber said about Cruz. “She has a sense of humor and she has the ability to get people to speak fully about the topic [she writes about].”
Cruz, who once dubbed herself a “closet writer,” said that despite always having had the passion to write, she did not deliberately look into professional writing as her career path.
It was a 2009 Feature Writing class in with Mass Communications instructor Marcus Thompson that changed her mind.
“He invited me to join Naked,” Cruz said about Thompson. “It turned out it was a publishing class. He basically took me under his wing and taught me everything I know. He inspired me, gave me the confidence to go on.”
Cruz now does professional freelance writing for several magazines in the Bay Area. Among these publications are Parent’s Press, Dandy Lion Press, and Oakland Magazine.
“My goal is to get into larger magazines,” Cruz said. “Like Harper’s Bazaar and The New Yorker.”
As for aspiring students, who wish to follow into her footsteps, Cruz has some advice.
“Always try to get in to the heart of whatever the subject is– the core,” Cruz said. Because if
you don’t have some kind of passion for the subject, it’s hard to produce a really ripping piece. Whatever it is, try to get interested.”
This year’s winners for the Associate Collegiate Press awards will be revealed at the 91st National College Media Convention.
The event, which is collaborated by the College Media Association, will be held at Chicago on November 3.