Thank You, J-School

In celebration of my last month at University of Florida, I’m taking the time to write ‘thank you’ notes to those who have helped shape my time here. To you all: I am forever grateful.

 

There seems to be a lot of pressure for people to have an ‘a-ha’ revelation moment about what they want to do with their life. We see in movies and books exact moments when someone figures out what is their destiny’s calling. It was this book they read that made them want to teach. It was that moment in chemistry class when they realized they had to be an engineer. It was that one day volunteering when they knew they had to be a doctor.

I’ve never really had a precise moment when I knew I wanted to write. It was always something inherently in me - my Nana transcribing my stories at 3-years-old when I could write no more than what was on the word wall at preschool, writing angsty poetry in middle school I’m sure I’d cringe at now and wanting to join the yearbook staff in high school. When I got to college, I settled on public relations as a major because of the fear that everyone saying “there’s no jobs in journalism” had caused me. I switched after a year to English because something felt like it wasn’t right. I changed that again. And finally, I ended up as a journalism major in the College of Journalism and Communications.

I knew it was right, but I was scared. I am very much someone who likes to see the big picture before I jump into things. My mom has always said my mind is seven steps away before I even begin a task—I’ve always calculated every possible outcome of a situation or a scenario before I go into it. Being in the College of Journalism and Communications, there isn’t time for that. You have to think quickly on your feet and be ready to dive into your reporting headfirst.

And that’s a huge part of why I want to thank my college; for pushing me so far outside of my comfort zone. I am someone who lives very much inside the bubble of comfort, and these past few years I’ve had to do many things outside of it. Most of it stems from being out in the field and reporting and having to learn how to approach random people to talk to them, track down sources to interview, and even travel to different counties to get a story. And while these are things that often stress me out, I eventually take a step back and realize that these opportunities are not ubiquitous. Most universities do not have a fully functioning newsroom that covers 16 counties.

My first day of working in the WUFT newsroom, I was sent out to cover a bomb threat. I was wide-eyed, afraid and still jittery from my morning coffee. The TV reporter I was sent out with shrugged fearlessly, assuring me we were safe and telling me of her previous coverage of real-time action. I was so nervous to live tweet, and I was even more scared that I was going to get a fact error. The first couple weeks I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was going to mess something up. But gradually over time, I got a little less scared and a little more excited. This was cool and one of a kind. In a surreal turn of events, I got Athletic Director Scott Strickin to do his first-ever Gator chomp.

These are not experiences that I take for granted. You always hear quotes like “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and while I’d probably roll my eyes if I ever saw that on a poster in T.J.Maxx, it’s true. I learned more about myself and what I was capable of doing through being scared and uncomfortable at first. You adjust and adapt and learn.

So thank you, UF College of Journalism and Communications, for giving me an unparalleled education to help me grow. I’ll carry what I learned with me forever.

Photo credit: jou.ufl.edu