By Sharon Washington
To be a budding media professional is a humbling experience. I’d like to reflect on the evening of May 3, 2019. I found myself in a pensive state of worry. All I could think about was the fact that I was about to cross a commencement stage with no idea where the other end of my undergraduate career would lead me. I did not want the lead in another sad life story of spending thousands of dollars on an education that I wouldn’t use.
Here I am, a broadcast journalism graduate with no true passion for traditional newsroom reporting. I love the art of storytelling through television and film production, but at the time I had no footing in that direction.
For most, graduating college is a moment of excitement and celebration. Especially when those graduates and family-members can happily answer the dreadful “so… what’s next?” question. If you are that aunt, uncle, cousin or friend and you don’t know what is next for your loved one, DON’T ASK. Trust me, they’re doing their best to figure it out themselves.
All of this is to say that not having a job waiting for me right out of college left me dumbfounded. As a first-generation college student, I carried an extra weight of responsibility. It was time to use all that was invested in me and apply it to the real world. It was time to prove that all of this work and faith was worth it. It was time.
Days after graduation I was glued to the computer applying for job after job.
Looking for a job in a competitive field is a job in itself. Amidst my search, a relative with whom I rarely speak, randomly sent me a message about a journalism fellowship. I reluctantly looked into it as I tried to inch away from the path of “journalism” itself. The further I researched the opportunity the more enticing it became.
For eight weeks six students from HBCUs would have the chance to drive an all-new Chevy Blazer while working multiple newspaper internships. And that’s not all, each student would also receive a $15,000 scholarship. I applied to the fellowship and worked my hardest to ensure that I paid careful attention to detail. The wait was a bit daunting as the announcement of the selected Fellows was pushed back a week and a half. Nevertheless, I kept my faith and I trusted that my time at FAMU had prepared me for an opportunity such as this.
When I found out that I was awarded the fellowship, I was so happy to know that the selection committee saw something in me as a storyteller and creator. They saw enough in me to invest in me. That gave me a burst of confidence because it was proof that I am a skilled and worthy storyteller.
Since the beginning of the journey I wanted the experience itself to be my “thank you” to the program coordinators. I treat each assignment, opportunity and encounter as a “thank you.” From delving into the depths of “The Green Book” and its comparison to our travel experience, to attending city press briefings I’ve learned that the way that we say “thank you” is through what we produce.
I’ve learned so much about Washington D.C. during the first leg of the internship, and I honestly wish I had more time to learn and study the historic city. D.C is the home of federal legislation and profound political pro-test. Now that I am here in Chicago on the second leg, I am excited about what I’ll learn. I’m excited to connect with the community and to say, “thank you.” Thank you for seeing my intelligence, worth and excellence. I’m excited to listen to the voice of the Black community. I hope that their stories inspire me, and readers, to lead thoughtful lives that are actively empathic. There is more to Chicago’s Black community than gun violence. I hope to help impact the magnification of their stories.
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