In December of 2012, I graduated with summa cum laude distinction and General and Advanced Honors Recognition, receiving my B.A. in Journalism with a concentration in Print Newspaper and a Psychology minor.
I dual-enrolled at GSU for my senior year of high school, attending GSU full-time and earning both high school and college credits for my courses. As a result, I am scheduled to graduate in just two and a half years. Since my first year at GSU in 2009-2010, I have been on the President’s List, and I have maintained an institutional GPA of 4.22.
Aside from my studies in journalism and psychology, I have also taken a number of religious studies courses, including Religion & Sexuality, Intro to World Religions, and Religion & Science. I also took beginner and intermediate German courses.
How it started:
When I was 12 years old, I visited my parents’ small hometown of Morrisonville, Illinois. For the first time, I saw the town as a unique place I wanted to share with other people — the dilapidated buildings, empty streets, miles and miles of corn fields, and old fashioned storefront signs. The first time I shot the town, I used a disposable camera; the second, a 2 megapixel digital camera. The photographs told a story that meant something to me, and I immediately became passionate about photography.
Photography & Nature:
Growing up, photography was a main factor in my family’s household as we all avidly read National Geographic Magazines. At a young age, my eyes were opened to new cultures and I was inspired to embrace my environment for all that it has to offer. Since then, my dream job has been to work as a photojournalist for National Geographic.
My love for nature photography is accentuated by a complete love for nature, which I in part owe to my upbringing in a more rural part of Georgia. I would spend hours in my parents’ yard or walking up and down the dirt road they lived on and photograph every plant, bird, mammal, and insect I saw. In the summer of 2012, I worked as an intern for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Division of International Conservation’s Global Program, where I learned and wrote about conservation efforts all over the world. Every day, I’m inspired by nature and its immense beauty.
We’ve all got to make a living, right? I shot my first wedding when I was 17 years old. All in all, it turned out pretty well but — as with any wedding photography experience — nothing went “perfectly.” Since then, I have worked with another photographer, George Miko, as an assistant photographer. While I assist in setting up the more formal portraits, I am also charged with taking candid photographs throughout the pre-ceremony bridal traditions, ceremony, and reception. With my wedding photography, I aim to capture intimate moments when a photographer is least expected and to convey the rich emotion that is embodied in every wedding photograph.
If I had to pinpoint a time when journalism became a real career path for me, I’d have to go back to my high school yearbook class. For the first time, a kind of rewarding writing that was not “creative” became an option for me. In my first semester of college at Georgia State University, I think I knew that I wanted to major in journalism. In the semesters to follow, I found myself defending my “print journalism” concentration against the broadcast journalists and public relations concentrations. I couldn’t go a month without having someone bring up the economic downfall of the newspaper industry in today’s market.
And yet I felt it in my heart that this is something that I love to do. Once I got the real newspaper journalism experience at my school newspaper, The Signal, I knew there was no going back. I wrote for the Arts & Living section of the paper, focusing on Atlanta-based community art organizations.
No more than two months after The Signal hired me, the Senior Editor asked me to apply for the Web Managing Editor Position. In the summer and fall of 2012 I helped to create a brand new website for The Signal and we transitioned from http://www.gsusignal.com to http://www.georgiastatesignal.com, switching from College Publisher to WordPress. As Web Managing Editor, I hired and trained new reporters, continually uploading content online and troubleshooting our new website as we installed plugins and fine tuned our design. Additionally, I helped the Editor-in-Chief to create an Employment Package and a Writer’s Guide. For my fellow Signal staffers, I created a comprehensive guide on how to upload and manage our new website. And, as my final semester progressed, I continued to write for The Signal. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview and photograph the German parliamentarian and coordinator for transatlantic cooperation for the German government Harald Leibrecht and renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, while also writing a series of columns, and finally achieving the coveted front page photo and center-spread feature.
In the summer of 2012, I participated in a program called the Washington Media Institute in Washington, D.C., which consisted of two parts: an internship and a seminar. For the first four weeks, we broke into different groups and each created a packaged product — including a video, photographs, written content and a website in which to present it all. Using a JVC handheld video camera, we covered events like Memorial Day, the Paws at the Park happy hour, and a Fashion Fights Poverty fundraiser; we also interviewed owners of local restaurants
on a piece called “World of Foods.” Our final commission project, an analysis of the Hispanic diaspora in the United States for The Hispanic Link, my group interviewed the Mexican ambassador and created a personal profile video on Dr. Cathleen Clancy.
For the majority of my group projects, I was responsible for much of the video editing. I quickly became familiar with Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 as a result of these projects, and I subsequently have made videos for the Fish and Wildlife Service as I interned for them. My group mates have often commented on how organized I am when I create videos – I am meticulous with making and labeling subclips, which I have found to help in a group setting where a number of people work on the same video.
Because of my experience with the Washington Media Institute, I have gained experience and confidence in video production and it is becoming more of an asset for me in the new media setting.