Category Archives: Thankful

A Journalist’s Thankful List (2016)

img_1580-1

Bad news: my annual “thanksgiving post” is getting later and later–most definitely a journalism fail on my part (better late than never?). Good news: this is officially my first thankful list as a journalist… not a journalism student.

As usual, my lists seem to have a theme. In 2013, it was people; 2014 was about challenges; 2015 had an “un-journalistic” theme; and finally, this year, it’s all about NEW things.

New York

This summer, I moved to New York. If you told me that was going to happen, I would have never believed you. One, because I have only visited the city once and spent less than 24 (very stressful) hours wandering around Manhattan. And, two, because New York was on my “never going to move there” list. The hustle and bustle of New York City and my personality are polar opposites. Yet, in a series of events too long to write out here, I started to see New York as the perfect setting to my “journey to journalism.” I found an apartment and transferred to a Starbucks in the Bronx all in about a month’s time; and, before I knew it, I was struggling up the five (yes, FIVE) flights of stairs with three suitcases to move into my new home. While I can’t say I’ve always wanted to live here, I know that many people who do, never get the opportunity to do so and in light of that, I don’t want to take it for granted. I’m thankful that God opened up doors, and I can confidently say, I don’t regret this move one bit.

New Perspective

As much as I hate fitting stereotypes, I realized I moved here with the whole, “New York or bust” mentality, daydreaming of the many opportunities that awaited me in the Big Apple. I spent hours looking up entry level jobs and internships, writing countless cover letters all the while working as a barista at the Starbucks near Yankee Stadium. A couple of months into this routine, I got really discouraged. I wasn’t hearing back and the last thing I wanted to do at this point was write another cover letter. In the midst of this dry season though, I started to develop a new perspective.

When I arrived here, I thought it wouldn’t be too long before I found something and transitioned out of working at Starbucks. I grew frustrated when things weren’t going according to plan and just dreamed about the day when I could have that “nice job in the city.” But then, I grew to love the neighborhood I live in. I felt that, without saying a word, I could relate to the others commuting to work with that exhausted yet determined look on their faces (a look many may interpret to be that “New York scowl”). There was something about the whole experience that felt raw and real. Downtown New York is nice and definitely has a lot to see and learn from, but man, Uptown and the Bronx was home to me. I am definitely not doing this explanation justice, but through things not going my way, my goals, priorities, and perspectives shifted, and for that, I am thankful.

New Job

So, remember how I was saying I didn’t hear back from any job applications for what felt like a really long time? Well, at the end of summer, one of the places I had a phone interview with when I just moved to New York reached out to me to see if I was still interested in the position. At this point, I kind of took a break from the application madness because, honestly, with that perspective change, I had grown quite comfortable with my flexible Starbucks schedule and really loved the people I worked with. I figured, maybe it’s a good time to narrow my job search process and really think about what I wanted to do next.

Long story short, I ended up going in for that interview, and another one after that and now, I can officially say that I am a reporter. More specifically, a reporter for a trade publication on Wall Street that covers the defined contributions (401k) industry. Just like I never thought I would call New York “home,” I didn’t quite think that my first job would be as a financial reporter. However, I’m learning that life, especially as an aspiring journalist, takes these unpredictable twists and turns. These detours, as surprising or unexpected as they may be, can turn out to be some of life’s greatest blessings.


The Real Cost of News

Over a year ago, I blogged about my fear of the unknown future coupled with the sometimes overwhelming, scary nature of journalism. Tonight’s event at the Newseum, (which also happened to be my first “official journalism event in D.C.”) brought that concept of the “scary side of journalism” to a whole other level.

At the beginning of the event, they played videos documenting the stories of journalists James Foley and Austin Tice. Both were correspondents in Syria who were kidnapped months apart from each other in 2012. Their families worked persistently to discover the whereabouts of these men. The search for Foley ended tragically when footage of his beheading was released on YouTube. Tice, on the other hand, is still missing.

His mom, Debra Tice, along with Foley’s mom, Diane Foley, shared what they learned about the press and government through their experience. Hearing from these two women was eye-opening and it definitely made me wonder what the government could do to improve the way they handle this issue, which is becoming increasingly common as more and more journalists are being threatened in various parts of the world.

Of all the issues and questions raised tonight, what really stuck with me was the passion that drove Foley and Tice to willingly put their lives on the line to capture the conflict in Syria. Both of them did not have to go. In fact, both their families, and even some of their colleagues, urged them not to go, but they wanted to communicate the harsh realities of what is going on in the other side of the world. To me, that is the heart of journalism. Journalists exist to provide a window into lives, places and events that most others wouldn’t normally have access to.

But then, how far is too far? This is essentially what Kathleen Carroll of the Associated Press brought up in a discussion after Diane Foley and Debra Tice shared their experiences. She asked if the story was worth the risk. While this is a question that I don’t think I could ever fully answer, from an aspiring journalist’s point of view, if the story increases awareness amongst the public and equips them with the information they need to take action, I think that yes, it is worth it. I would not advise irresponsibly putting oneself in dangerous situations in order to get a story, but if there is a passion and clear purpose, the kind that I saw in Foley and Tice, then it is definitely worth it. I mean look at the impact it is having today. We are still talking about their work and almost three years after they went missing, they inspired me in my endeavors to report “nothing but the truth.”

In her closing remarks on the panel, Carroll said that in light of this issue, the news audience (a.k.a. everyone) has a responsibility to care about and appreciate the work that these journalists are doing. I can definitely say that this event gave me a deeper appreciation for the news. The price of that article you read or the video footage you watched goes beyond just a few dollars at the convenience store or having to endure a 30 second ad. There are journalists out there like Foley and Tice who are risking their lives, and that’s the real cost of news.

IMG_20150205_243659_268


From WJMC to WJC

As soon as the plane landed, I looked out my window, saw this and knew that I was here at last. My home for the semester.

As soon as the plane landed, I looked out my window, saw this and knew that I was here at last. My home for the semester.

Staring out my window looking at the Capitol, I think back on all that has happened and can’t believe I’m actually here in Washington D.C. The last time I was in the nation’s capital marked the beginning of this blog and my “journey to journalism”…and what a journey it has been! Before the craziness that is living and studying in D.C. begins, I figured I would use this downtime to recap all the major events that led to this very moment.

WJMC

Like I said, this blog, and consequently this journey all started almost four years ago when I was invited to attend the Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC). This program gathered high school seniors from around the nation who had one thing in common – we all wanted to pursue a career in the media. That week in D.C. gave me a glimpse of the world of journalism and provided me with amazing opportunities such as hearing from successful professionals in the field from the Today show’s Hoda Kotb to film critic Kevin McCarthy. Since it was more of an academic driven program, we had some assignments and one of them included blogging about our week in D.C. Thus, my “Nothing But the Truth” blog began.

I can’t really remember if this is exactly how it went down, but I’m pretty sure I was looking up more information about WJMC when I came across something called the Washington Journalism Center (WJC). They offered a semester-long journalism program where we could take classes and intern just blocks away from the Capitol. It seemed like the perfect opportunity, but it was offered to juniors and seniors… in college. I was still in high school, so that got put on the back burner until a couple years later…

An Unexpected Guest

In my sophomore year, my journalism professor invited someone to speak to my Writing and Reporting I class. The special guest was Terry Mattingly who just happens to be the director of, yep, you guessed it, WJC. Okay, so the director of the program I was looking into two years ago comes to my classroom. That must be a sign, right? Well, at the time I honestly didn’t think so. You see, when Mattingly came to visit my class, I was in a love/hate relationship with journalism. I still wanted to pursue that major, but I was second guessing whether the hard-hitting, fast-paced, deadline news scene was right for me. No doubt, there were certain things that excited me about being a journalist, but there were also things that overwhelmed me, especially after I started realizing how much social media has changed the dynamics of journalism. I even started to consider ways I could use my degree in settings other than the newsroom. So, when we had the director of WJC visit our campus, I didn’t flood him with questions like I would usually do. I took the flyer and that was basically it. Little did I know, his visit watered a seed that grew into a determination to attend WJC no matter what the costs were… and boy, was there a cost.

The Big Move

After telling my professor about my intentions to apply for the journalism semester, I started what I thought would be a normal application process. At the beginning, everything was going well. I had started my application almost a year before it was due so I figured I had a lot of time to work out the little details along the way. However, summer of 2014 came and since I was working at a summer camp, I didn’t have much access to my computer. This put the WJC related communications between me and my school on hold. When I came back in the fall to get all the school forms signed and submitted, there was an unexpected financial issue that surfaced and, to make a long story short, there was no way I could afford going to WJC through my university. So, the first week of my junior year, I transferred to another college that had a more cooperative school policy, and moved from Texas back home to Hawaii where I took online classes for a semester. Four years and two schools later, here I (finally!) am, back where it all started. I have no idea what to expect of this semester, but after all those ups and downs in getting here, rest assured, I intend on making the best of it!


A Journalism Student’s Thankful List (2014)

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 3.00.56 PMIt’s a miracle guys! We made it another year, and, more importantly, I remembered to keep up my “traditional Thanksgiving blog post.” Yes, I know this is only the second one, but still, given my memory, it’s a reason to celebrate!  Anyway, last year, my list was all about people, and no matter where I go in journalism, I will always be indebted to the people who have played a role in my “journey to journalism.” But this year’s list is going to be focused more on the things that challenged me.

Technology. The world of social media has definitely challenged this analytical brain. I’ve written quite a few posts about my experience with the media and technology (glitches and all). My rants about technology aside, I am so thankful for the way that it connects people around the world. A couple months ago, I had to make a really tough decision to transfer from my university. Knowing that I could keep in touch with my friends and mentors through social media, texting, Skyping, etc. made that transition a lot easier on me.

Houston Baptist University. My time at HBU, especially as EIC of The Collegian, has stretched me and challenged me in more ways than I could’ve imagined. From having to deal with a not-so-pleasant side of my school’s administration, to “being censored,” to deadlines, to classes, every single one of my experiences at HBU have played a vital role in developing who I have become today. The challenges from my time at HBU did not always come through obstacles and trials. In fact, some of the best challenges came from professors who cared enough about students to help them realize their full potential. Looking back, I realize that both the fun challenges and the “not-so-fun challenges” were equally valuable in their own way. I am just so thankful for my time spent there. Wherever I go, HBU will always be my launching pad – the place where it all began.

Change. Even as I’m typing this, I keep asking myself, “Really? Am I really thankful for change?” And the answer, even though it may be through gritted teeth, is a resounding YES. Change is inevitable, and boy was this year marked with change for me. In the span of a week, I transferred universities, changed majors, and moved states. I’m not going to lie. It was hard, and sometimes still is. However, today I can say I am thankful for change because it opens new doors and brings about opportunities I would’ve never come across if I stayed in the same place forever. Whether it is willingly or reluctantly, we all experience change. We can’t avoid it, but what we can do is decide how we respond to it. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t always respond well to change; however, I do know that a change in circumstances isn’t necessarily the end. In fact, it almost always proves itself to be a new beginning in disguise.

My challenge to you today is to find at least one challenge to be thankful for. It’s easy (and necessary) to rejoice about the great moments, but let’s not overlook the role that trials and obstacles play in shaping and impacting our lives. Feel free to share below; I’d love to hear how you are thankful for your challenges!


It Takes a Village to… Run a Paper

While the beginning of this semester was filled with unexpected changes, there was one major change that I had all summer to prepare for — no longer being editor-in-chief of my university’s newspaper. Now, when I say that I “prepared for” leaving this position, I really mean I had a lot of time to reflect over my experience.

Little did I know that when I joined The Collegian, I would not only gain journalistic experience, but I would also learn many life lessons along the way. And to keep it exciting and interesting, a majority of these lessons came out of the most peculiar sources, from rotten pumpkins to secret menus and everything in between.

Of all the lessons that I’ve learned from my time at The Collegian, there is one lesson that surpasses them all: You can’t do it alone. Both in life, and definitely in a newspaper or magazine or whatever you’re trying to produce, it all won’t happen without a team.The moments I tried to do everything on my own, I found myself burnt out and stressed. Thankfully, I was blessed with a loyal team, or rather, family, who kept me sane and made the stressful times a little more enjoyable by either lightening the mood with some random outburst of song and Russian accents or lightening my load by being so ready and willing to help wherever needed.

(Most of) the people behind the paper. This was taken in Austin when we took a staff trip to attend the 2014 ISOJ conference.

(Most of) the people behind the paper. This was taken in Austin when we took a staff trip to attend the 2014 ISOJ conference.

Looking back, I know that, without a doubt, the biggest take away I got out of my time as editor-in-chief was realizing that I can’t produce a paper by myself. I know, that sounds like it should’ve been obvious, but in the midst of all that is deadlines and breaking news, it is easy to forget how much I needed and relied on my fellow editors and writers. I don’t think I expressed my gratitude enough while I was editor-in-chief, but these people really made my experience what it was.

Thank you, Collegian family!


A Journalism Student’s Thankful List (2013)

6643935221_7fb0c5195e_nI’ve decided to start a new tradition for my blog. I know I’m a little late this year but from now on, around Thanksgiving, I’m going to take some time to reflect on the little (or big) things that have kept me going on my journey to journalism. I think it will be fun to look back and see how this list progresses over the years.

This year, all my journalism related “things to be thankful for” are all people. As you probably could deduce from my posts about taking pictures and social media, I haven’t been having so much fun with electronics and technology (not to mention, I recently lost my digital camera, but that’s a whole other story). However, I realize more and more each year just how much I need people, especially as a journalist. Sometimes we get on this “do it all by myself” mentality, but, let’s face it, we can’t keep that up for long before we burn out.

With that said, thank you, editors and mentors for taking the time to look over my work and guide me into improving. Seriously, I am so thankful that my “first draft” is not what’s published. As a “journalist-in-training” I definitely need all the editing and guidance I can get, and I know for a fact I will never stop needing that.

Also, as I mentioned, I realized just how hard it is to take photos and videos in a way that is both appealing and informative. So, I give props to photographers and videographers  for having the patience and skills to take photos and make videos whether it be for news or for entertainment. What little taste of photography I had this semester has already made me so appreciative for all you guys do.

Lastly, the others who have gone out of their way to make my stories and article writing easier by either taking the time to be interviewed or contributing in some other way. I wish there was a better way to categorize this group of people besides just saying “others.” That really doesn’t do it justice, but at the moment, I cannot think of another way put this. Anyway, an example of this “others” group is this T.V. producer for ABC news in Houston I met at church. I was talking to someone about my major and when he heard me talking about being a journalism major, he introduced himself and invited me to take a tour of the studio. I am definitely thankful for that unexpected opportunity. I haven’t been able to tour the studio yet, but I can guarantee you that when I do, there will be a blog post about it.

Anyway, I love this time of year, where, in the middle of the chaos and busyness, we are reminded to stop and be thankful for the people, event, and things that have kept us going (and sane) on our own little life journeys. What are you thankful for?