Finding My Niche

My transformation from your typical slacker student to co-editor-in-chief, featuring some of my best friends and all of my heroes. 

Throughout freshman year, I would wake up at 7 a.m., get ready and stroll into my first period 15 or 20 minutes late. This kind of purposeless, unmotivated work ethic scored me a B in Child Development and Psychology, the class where the largest requirement is just to actually show up. Three years later, I went through reverse senioritis, with 12 As in 12 journalism courses and a rising GPA to prove it. Every weekday morning, my alarm would sound at 5:30 a.m. Though I did complain to myself and contemplate falling back asleep like my old, freshman self would have, I always ended up rolling out of bed, jumping in the shower and coming up with the plan for the day. This unlikely motivation, I’m confident, was entirely thanks to my school’s media program, my adviser Mark Newton and all of the other people scholastic media has put me into contact with.

First period, which I usually arrived at nearly an hour early, is where I faced the biggest need for organization and communication. I was one of 13 editors, five of who were seniors. Because of this, showing up to class wasn’t as easy as simply sitting down and doing my personal work, but rather it was a challenge to put together everyone’s work and ideas into one comprehensive final product, whether that was the newsmagazine, the yearbook or the website.

Both production periods, third and fifth, usually consisted of me sticking around the journalism room to walk around and talk to all of the staff members in order to ensure they were able to get all of their work done in a timely and impressive manner. This is where my experience actually using all of the necessary technology and programming came in handy. Thankfully, I’ve had so many mentors in my life in so many different areas that I’m now good at writing, photography, design and broadcast, without any one thing truly proving more important than the others. Being able to process all of these things together, I’m confident, will allow me to make it in the fast-paced world of modern reporting.

The Mountain Vista Media 2015-2016 staff poses for a yearbook photo outside of U328, the newsroom. 

In high school, my skill sets allowed me to answer nearly any question presented to me by any of my co-editors or staffers. This understanding of how to do all of the things staffers can’t always complete on their own allowed me to spend the majority of my class time helping others instead of working on my own projects. This definitely increased my workload, but I honestly didn’t mind. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my time than wandering around from student to student in the journalism room to make sure everyone was producing content to the best of their own abilities. To make sure I accomplished all of my personal responsibilities, I started early and left late. In that way I was a key leader for Mountain Vista Media: by being the first one in the room and the last one out.

My leadership capabilities have been continually built up over the years, whether I was captain of the softball team or a group leader for a community service project. Though I understand the importance of getting everything done and am willing to do whatever it takes to do so, I also know how to work well with people to encourage healthy relationships between the staff and the editors. A huge part of this is recognizing that each individual reacts differently to various types of motivation and encouragement. Some people are willing to get all their work done just because they have a good work ethic. Others may need a little motivation to make it through a story or a spread. But when all else fails, there is a time to stop cutting slack. Although resorting to lowering grades isn’t always the most effective mode of communicating between the editorial board and the staff, it is at times necessary when face-to-face interaction or “Staffer of the Day!” stops working. Through being harsh or nice, one thing I’ve always found important is to treat every staffer with the utmost respect, regardless of how much work they’re getting done. From being on both sides of the “get-your-work-done” conversation, I know that treating someone like they’re fully capable of achieving excellence yields a better result of them doing so.

But my leadership role went beyond giving orders, granting help and dishing out rewards or punishments. I tried my best to lead by example, working my hardest to model not only a good editor, but also an ideal staffer. Regardless of one’s position in MVM, everyone was expected to work both together and individually to produce a large quantity of high quality content. Though I would get home from school at four or five o’clock ready to pass out, I still looked up the event schedule for the night before attending a basketball game or a choir concert or a leadership event. In that way, journalism was honestly a full-time job. Whether I was in class, at home or watching a game, I was always working on producing content in some way.

That in mind, journalism has become my way of life. Every single thing that I see or hear or learn correlates directly to my involvement with journalism. When I hear a news story break, I have a deeper understanding of what’s going on because I appreciate everything that goes into the storytelling process. When I watch coverage of upcoming elections, I acknowledge the actual issues at hand instead of just observing the horse-race to the nomination. When I go on a hike or just drive around in my car, I’m more observant of everything around me because I understand the process of photography. When I travel to Moore or Compton or Cahuita to volunteer in whatever way I can, I recognize the story of every individual I come into contact with because the absolute most important thing journalism has taught me is that everyone has one that’s worth being told.

In this way, everything in my life revolves around the media. I can’t imagine living a life where I wasn't so deeply involved with MVM because I have no idea how I would perceive everything that goes on around me. My role as co-editor-in-chief made senior year somewhat stressful. I wasn't able to sit in the crowd or cheer with the MV Unit because I was too busy taking photos of it. I couldn't be a member of the softball team because I was too busy covering all of the other fall sports that are going on. I wasn't been involved with the environmental club or the community service clubs because I was too busy reporting on them. But through all of the sacrifices that I made that have ultimately deemed me as a key leader for MVM, I don’t maintain any regrets. Knowing that I’m able to deliver so much news to everyone and preserve the memories of homecoming week or the rivalry game is much more rewarding and purposeful than I imagine anything else could be.