Thursday, March 17, 2011
Thankful Thursday: UGA graduation
Way back in 1993, I graduated from the J-school at UGA. That's code for journalism school at the University of Georgia.
The journalism school had a small graduation ceremony for all the areas — newspapers, broadcast, public relations, magazines, etc. I received the paper weight shown above and embarked on my career. I reported for work the following Monday. I worked a 12-hour day, because it was the final deadline day before the paper had to be at the press plant.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life before I ever stepped on campus: Write for newspapers. When I was much younger, I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. I read A London Diary by Quentin Reynolds about his efforts to report during the constant bombings in World War II. I was hooked. I cherished each page of that book.
I studied the Italian language and traveled to Florence, Italy one summer for a study abroad program. That's as far as I traveled. Love and life took my career in a different direction. By the time the paper weight reached my hand, I had an engagement ring on my left hand and was headed for a weekly newspaper. One professor, who had worked for the Associated Press, didn't think highly of my career plans. He thought some "local" newspapers were not serious.
While there were few chances of a Pulitzer Prize for my efforts, I knew every day and almost every hour at my community weeklies that my contributions were duly noted by everyday folks, community leaders and a few busy bodies. I was both liked and hated. It all depended on the stories in that week's edition.
I left newspapers twice in my career. A year before my late husband Jimmy died, I left full-time work and pieced together several part-time jobs, so I could spend more time with him. After his death, I returned to newspapers. I left two months shy of two years on the job, because I was newly engaged to Andy and moving to another state. Newspaper work didn't seem to be in my career path here as I worked at an online magazine before it folded in the post-2008 economy.
The economy and new technology challenges newspapers today. When I graduated, I never dreamed I would be reading newspapers from around the globe on an iPhone! I didn't know what the Internet was in 1993.
Now I get my news from a combination of newspapers, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, Web sites, etc. My journalism degree has served me well through the years. I am very thankful I was able to earn my degree and work at a number of great community newspapers. I anticipate my degree will continue to help me into the future.