It’s 7:42 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3 and I’ve been staring at a blank Word document for several hours. Blank, not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I cannot figure out where to start. How can I encapsulate my time at Florida A&M University into a 600-word article?
There were periods of doubt, frustration, exasperation, but also times of renewal, joy, and ingenuity that shaped my time on “The Hill.” Those same confusing periods of growth, along with the guiding hands of several professors, led me to discover my purpose as a journalist.
Looking back on the last three years, I could have never anticipated the transformation that occurred as I went through J-School as a public relations student. The lessons I learned outside of the classroom were just as critical as the ones taught in Intro to Mass Media, Reporting and Writing 2 and Public Relations Research and Strategies. During my editor-in-chief (EIC) experience, President Trump was all over the place, rampant sexual harassment by political leaders was exposed, the FAMU and Florida State University head football coaches resigned-- just to name a few-- all of which have been a pleasure covering.
The biggest lesson I learned? How to be myself. Following the premise of “loving yourself before loving others,” I had to become rock-solid in a vision for the newsroom to effectively guide 20 people. I learned to speak and listen as a leader. Being EIC had less to do with writing bomb articles and more to do with being a dynamic leader who pivots into another role at a moment’s notice.
To the members of The FAMUAN, remember who you are and why you are here. As Ms. Taylor always said, “this is not a club, this is not an organization.” Develop a sense of self, find your purpose and walk firmly in it.
You cannot focus on someone else’s idea of who you should be or what you should be doing. The most bulletproof aspect of “self” is that once it’s defined, no one else can penetrate it. Not a staff member, family, friend or supervisor.
We drove each other crazy sometimes, but I would not have traded the experience for anything. Through the arguments and politics of the newsroom, we found ways to bond through late-night laughs, Waffle House trips and philosophical conversations in my Toyota Camry at 2 a.m. after a production night.
The most significant thing you should never forget as a staff member? You are a team. I’ll never forget Nadia Felder’s quote about unity in The FAMUAN. “Never go into war with your own bullets and your own gun. Always have an army to back you up.”
To new staff writers, nothing lights up an editor’s face like seeing timid, first-time writers turn into wordsmiths. Please take our newsroom seriously. Just like possessing paintbrushes does not make someone an artist, placing words on a page does not make you a journalist. It is the craft of original reporting, navigating sources and accuracy that molds you into a storyteller.
To the future EICs, take care of yourself as much as you will take care of the staff. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Remember to set personal goals and prepare for your life after FAMU.
Know your beliefs and morals and never forget them. The EIC position is not a resume builder or a stepping stone to being Greek. The position is one of pure selflessness and patience. There will be times where it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, but take some time to breathe and keep moving forward.
Thank you to Ms. Taylor and Blackburn for trusting in my ability to lead, words of encouragement and guidance. Thank you for seeing something in my spirit that I could not always see for myself. I love you and will miss you dearly.
In the words of The Notorious B.I.G, “if you don’t know, know you know.”