The Compass Wins 12 Awards at 2021 FCSPA Conference

By Christina Cardona

I enjoyed virtually attending the 2021 61st Annual FCSPA (Florida College System Publications Association) Conference and Awards Banquet organized by the FCSAA (Florida College System Activities Association) on Friday, January 29. FCSAA is the governing body for all extracurricular activities of member schools in Florida, and FCSPA is specifically for publications, as the title suggests. Below are summaries of segments that I found most educational and noteworthy, along with the 12 awards won by the Compass.

Dr. Billy Jones’ Writing Workshop

Dr. Jones is an author, journalist, and professor at Nova Southeastern University. He shared with the group a few of his accomplishments and projects. As an author, he’s published a fictional short story collection about people who live in Miami, Florida, called Everyday Folks: Short Stories on the Common People. As a journalist, he’s the creator of Everyday Folks Radio, a live podcast radio network, where he provides a forum for “ordinary yet extraordinary people” to tell their life stories.

He started the workshop with a short slideshow video of opening lines from movies and books and then discussed why those lines are memorable and make for an intriguing beginning to a story. Following this introduction, we got into more fun activities, which I would describe as creative brainstorming and writing exercises. The writing exercises included writing our opening lines and unique perspectives to character development and everyday conventional objects. I found the activities got my “creative juices” flowing and inspired me to consider exploring creative writing activities more often as a technique to facilitate thinking, overcome writer’s block, and tap into artistic self-expression.

Keynote Speaker: Dave Barry

This year’s keynote speaker was (pictured above) Dave Barry, humor columnist, band member, and New York Times best selling author. Some of his most famous books include Insane City, Peter, Suncatchers, and Lessons From Lucy, where he shares his unique insight into growing old with his beloved pet. He is genuinely as witty and light-hearted as I imagined, and he had many of us laughing throughout the hour. He shared stories of some of his most valuable experiences that led him to develop personally as a writer and succeed in his career. One of his first journalism experiences was being a reporter. His advice to students who want to pursue a journalism career is to get experience as a reporter. It was a job that taught him many essential skills that helped develop and strengthen his connections, confidence, critical thinking, writing, and more. 

He shared and laughed about his time on the David Letterman show where he lit underpants on fire with a roller-skating Barbie (and how his story likely contributed to getting those killer Barbie dolls off the shelves of stores), a “column war” between The Miami Herald and The New York Times in which his article CAN NEW YORK SAVE ITSELF? won a Pulitzer Prize (his response to The New York Times’ article CAN MIAMI SAVE ITSELF?). Picking his son up from middle school in an Oscar Mayer hotdog car and his fun times playing in the Rockbottom Remainders band, what he describes to be the world’s oldest and least-talented all-author band. 

Currently, he lives in Miami, Florida, and works from home with his wife, team, and dogs. One thing he wishes that someone would have told him when he was a young adult was along the lines of, “don’t worry so much about what others (such as your parents or friends) want you to do or think you should do, instead follow your heart and do the things that make you most happy.” Dave Barry’s official site:

Other segments included a presentation about what it takes to create and publish a magazine, presented by Carrie Oosterbaan and Alejandra Almada, Miami-Dade College student and co-creator, editor, and producer of a podcast, Urbanites (which was one of this year’s FCSPA award winners). The attendees included a range of people from students to professors to authors and creatives in general. There is usually live music, food, activities, and networking opportunities at the convention when taken place in-person. The organizers hope to see everyone in person next year’s conference and plan to make it the best one yet.

I’d like to add and celebrate the awards that the Compass newspaper received at this year’s conference:

  • 2nd place in General Excellence
  • Lianna Hubbard won the Inner Circle Award
  • Lianna Hubbard won second place in the Feature Photo Category
  • Jazmine Santillana won First Place in the Feature Story Category
  • Lianna Hubbard won First Place in the News Story Category
  • Jose Diaz won Second Place in the In-Depth Reporting Category
  • Jonathan Pressley won Second Place in the Sports Writing Category
  • Jonathan Pressley won First Place in the Sports Column Category
  • Heliodoro Hinestroza won Second Place in the Illustration Category
  • Lianna Hubbard won First Place in the Arts Review Category
  • Jay Dykes won Third Place in the Humor Column Category
  • Jay Dykes won First Place in the Comic Strip Category

Christina Cardona

Section Editor – Community and Opinion

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