Hometown: Lufkin, TX
Post-graduation: Staff writer, The Texas Observer; previously a producer and reporter, All Things Considered, KUT/NPR
I originally went to Texas State for the theatre program. It is a very hard program to get into and I was even excited to be put on the waiting list.
After I was on campus I decided I didn’t want to be in theatre. An advisor sat me down and explained that your freshman year is when you kind of explore the different majors and see what you might want to do. I took a communications class; I took intro to mass communications (mass comm) as well, and I fell in love with both of them.
I was at KTSW (Texas State’s student-operated radio station) for two or three semesters, and I found community there. We formed our own black journalist group, and I also joined NAHJ (the National Association of Hispanic Journalists). I was always making sure I knew what was going on on campus, with activism. I was always in the mix reporting on it, so I couldn’t really be affiliated with any student political organizations.
I would just stop by Dr. (Laurie) Fluker’s office every now and then. I think she helped me a lot in those first few semesters when I was feeling lost. I’d say she really helped me to figure out what I wanted to do. And Professor (Charles) Kaufman, the career advisor for mass comm, he was one of the best career counselors ever. He helped plan these yearly goals for internships that I hit. He helped me visualize all of these goals.
Texas State taught me how to be a go-getter. I happened to be at the right place at the right time for some of these opportunities, but when I was in these spaces, I was making sure I was going above and beyond to succeed, because that was what was expected of me at Texas State. KTSW had such a big influence too, because it’s like a student lab. I would get these internships and they were really surprised by the skills I had as a student journalist, that I knew how to edit or how to write scripts. I was ahead of the curve on other students because they didn’t have this real-world experience.
I would say my class on conflict communication is something I use all the time and also my class on nonverbal communication. It really broke down communication as a science. You’d be surprised how many people are reporters, but they don’t really know how to communicate. I think about my classes all the time.
As a first-generation student, my advice would be to not feel afraid. Going to Texas State, for me, was like taking a leap. It was taking a chance. I came from a small town, without a lot of diverse people, I didn’t know what to expect. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to people. Don’t be afraid to join organizations or apply for scholarships and internships. Know that it’s OK to talk to different advisors. I worked with two or three before I got to the one who understood me and helped find the right fit.