News | October 11th, 2018

Grads Are Back: Journalism Panel

By: Aiyana Ishmael
Grads Are Back: Journalism Panel

Oct. 4, 2018, Florida A&M University’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication held its annual Homecoming Grads Are Back event. Many Rattlers returned to where it all started and reminisced in the halls where their journalism careers all began.

The journalism panel was completely filled as current students gazed at the influential and inspiring alumni of “J school.” Guests included Lacrai Mitchell, broadcast associate for “60 Minutes,” Sakina Bowser, producer for 10 News WTSP, Audra Burch, national enterprise correspondent at the New York Times, Jermaine Fletcher, multimedia specialist for Bloomberg, Dria Roland, deputy editor for Complex Networks, and Shadeed Sharpe, lead studio operator for ESPN.

“It’s so good to be home,” Mitchell said. “Home as in J school. A place where so many of us have learned.”

The established alumni reflected on their time at FAMU and being in SJGC. Whether it was Journey Magazine, TV20 News, The Famuan or 90.5 The Flava Station, they all concurred that the tools they received from student media prepared them to go out and be successful in journalism.

“There’s no job that you will come across that FAMU hasn’t prepared you for,” Sharpe said. “Once you get in the door it’s about what you do there.”

Many questions arose from current students on how to stand out against other candidates and deciding between entertainment and hard news journalism. The small group discussion with alumni allowed students to see that the fruits of their work could lead them to a wide variety of career paths.

“There’s no such thing as having too much experience,” Burch said. “You are better than you think you are. The very essence of storytelling never changes and that all started here.”

The main advice these alumni emphasized to the students was continuing to grow as a journalist every chance they get. The industry is always changing; staying on top of it’s changes will always set one apart from other candidates.

“Continue to develop yourself off the clock,” Fletcher said. “There’s always something to be working on.”

A sentiment Burch spoke on was her failure to write an important story at her previous publication. Every other news publication in her area had covered the story and she was the only one who failed to do so.

This was especially heartbreaking for Burch because this story was in her specific beat. She recalled going home and crying to her mom wanting to quit, but her mother told her not to. This was a test of will in her career that ultimately made her a better journalist. She made sure she never missed another story after that.

“This is when you grow,” Burch said. “Failure is apart of success. It would be wonderful if it was all smooth, but it’s not. I’m grateful for that failure. If you don’t have fear you don’t grow.”

Later in the session, host of TV One’s “Sister Circle,” Rashan Ali, made a special appearance after just landing in Tallahassee and arriving to campus.

The alumni of SJGC are dedicated to the prosperity of their program. The alumni always reach back to current students because they too started in the same news rooms and offices. This, in return, keeps students invigorated to be apart of “J school” as they continue on their journey in journalism.

“There’s nothing I won’t do for this school,” Bowser said. “I would not be here today without studio A.”