This semester I'm embarking on projects I've never done before...
I'm a PR ambassador for a global company. I'm launching a new "project" in the WUFT newsroom. I'm attempting to TV report. I'm starting my last year at the University of Florida.
None of these compare to one of the scariest things of my life... I'm beginning to mentor more than 30 Radio 1 students as they start their careers as reporters at UF.
For those not familiar with the UF broadcast news program, let me explain.
You start off in a broadcast newswriting class. In that class, a group of students take a script writing exam to enter in our Telecommunication - News program. Only the best get in. Many students take the exam again. Some change their major. Others cry a lot. When I took the exam, I had studied like crazy for weeks. I became obsessive over this simple exam. I passed the first time, and apparently did very well. You're never told your grade or ranking on this exam. Professors might eventually hint that you did well on the exam, but besides that you never know.
These 30-something students took the exam at the same time as me. While I chose to take the Radio 1 class in the summer, these students picked Fall. In the summer while they were off doing internships, traveling the world, or sitting at home, I was becoming a slave to news. I spent hours, even days in the INC. I woke up early, stayed late, and ruined my sleeping schedule. And now, they're back... And I was encouraged to be their mentor (a position very similar to a TA except without all of the paperwork).
Now, this isn't new to me. I mentored the girls in my class this summer, and have a few wonderful volunteers that I've had the chance to work with. I edited a paper when I was 19 years old. I'm an occasionally bossy person who might have actually been born to be a teaching assistant. I've spent my whole life being called Mom.
There are more students now. And it's official.
So if you're one of my students, it's okay to feel lost. It's okay to be nervous. It's okay to ask questions. Learn from your mistakes, and grow professionally.
I'm new to this, too. I will celebrate your triumphs with you. If you want to cry, I will be there to ensure you that everything will be just fine. I'm here to listen to your stories, whether they're the ones aired on WUFT-FM or if you want to tell me about the weird interview you just had. I'm here to help you become the best journalists you can be. We're going to grow together.
Welcome to WUFT. We're so happy to have you here with us.
I haven’t been posting much lately. There’s a lot of reasons for that. I’ve been very busy, in and out of the newsroom. I’ve been kind of blocked creatively, which is a complete shame. There are so many things I want to share, but don’t know the proper way to do so.
Let’s start from the beginning: the two days after my last post were two of the best days of my life.
I worked on a story about a man named Chris Martin. Chris is muslim, and a proud navy vet. He traveled from Riverside, CA to Inverness, FL to protest a gun store owner’s decision to declare his business, Florida Gun Supply, a "muslim-free zone." I’m linking WUFT’S web story about the experience here. You should read it not only because the story itself is interesting, but our web reporter Komal Junejo poured her soul into this piece.
The story itself was interesting, but what happened after was astonishing. The next day, I worked on a radio story about Chris. I was disappointed, because it wasn’t what I had wanted. The gun store’s employees wouldn’t talk to me, and neither would any lawyers. My story was one-sided and hollow. It wasn’t what I wanted. Then the Council on American-Islamic Relations - Florida filed a lawsuit against Florida Gun Supply. I made calls, and completed a short story about the lawsuit itself.
My news manager monitored me throughout the hour, and I lightly suggested after one interview that we should tip off NPR. I’m so lucky to work with news managers who believe in their students, and encourage them to work as hard as they possibly can. Because of my news manager’s message to NPR News, my story aired during the NPR Newshour. It’s something I could have never imagined just last month. I’m so grateful for the opportunity that Ryan Vasquez provided me that day, and the opportunities my news managers give me every day. Thousands of people listened to the story… It’s linked in my portfolio. I received messages from people throughout the country about a story that was just a newsbrief. To be on NPR at 21 is rare, but it’s not like my listeners knew my age.
… And I’ve had other great stories and opportunities since then. I gained a huge following over the last few days covering the University’s removal of Bert, a 200-year-old bluff oak tree. I’ve received messages from listeners in the area saying they like hearing my voice. I’ve gained at least five slightly creepy fans.
There’s so many stories I want to tell all of you, but there’s not time to do it. I’m so grateful for everyone’s support: whether it’s through kind e-mails, text messages with gifs of pugs, unwanted hugs, and even cookie deliveries.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for listening. Thank you for watching. Thank you for liking, and retweeting. Without you, I don’t know where I’d be.
Multiplatform journalist. University of Florida Grad. Last seen at News21 and WUFT News.
"Good news is rare these days, and every glittering ounce of it should be cherished and hoarded and worshipped and fondled like a priceless diamond."