Where I am Right Now: Mentally
My life is a little crazy right now to say the least. This semester, I am a junior journalism and marketing student taking 19 hours, four of which are for honors credit. I am taking classes on business statistics, business law, world missions and business communication. My favorite classes this semester though are feature writing, in which I am working on a 2,000-word story that I will pitch for publication, and social media strategies, in which I am working on two different social media campaigns (one for the Waldron Center and one for Harding Univeristy).
I am also the assistant editor-in-chief for the Petit Jean yearbook this year. I get to work closely with the entire staff to plan for content, assist Kaleb (my editor), copy edit, help section editors and keep everyone on staff organized with the new workflow system I created this summer.
As a follow-up from this summer, I am working with the special consumer team at Arkansas Business Publishing Group (ABPG) on Arkansas Bride, a biannual bridal magazine. Not only do I get to see the process up-close, I got to attend the fashion photoshoot, write the main feature, contact contributors and write content for a couple of the wedding features. In addition to the print magazine, I am also creating online content for the blog week-to-week.
I am still a contributing writer for the 501 LIFE Magazine, and I am serving as the secretary for Delta Gamma Rho this semester (oh, and this is club week).
If academics and jobs are not enough, I am living with my best friends ("my people" you might call them). We have way too much fun and lose too much sleep, but it is worth every second. In short, I have amazing opportunities, and I am having the time of my life with my friends, my boyfriend and my club.
See, I told you it was crazy. But I love every bit of it, and I wouldn't want to give a single thing up.
Where I am Right Now: Physically
This weekend I had the opportunity to go to Dallas, Texas, for the Fall National College Media Convention hosted by ACP (Associated Collegiate Press) and CMA (College Media Association).
Seven members of Harding's student publications staff attended this conference to represent the Petit Jean yearbook and Bison newspaper staffs. Our editor-in-chief, Kaleb, was suppose to attend the conference with us, but had to drop out last minute. To attempt to make up for it, Carlie, our creative director, and I carried flat Kaleb around with us all over Dallas.
We attended this conference to gain insight to bring back to our staff and, for the most part, to be present for the announcing of the Pacemaker and Best in Show awards. Our yearbook from two years ago, Multitudes, which I worked on as a freshman as the Academics section editor, and the student newspaper, the Bison, were Pacemaker finalists. Basically, Pacemakers are like the Pulitzer Prize of student media; it is the most prestigious award in collegiate media. Our yearbook from last year, Found, which I worked on as the people section editor, was up for a Best in Show award, meaning it is on it's way to being judged for a Pacemaker next year. It's big stuff really.
We found out Saturday that the yearbook from two years ago, Multitudes, won one of the six awarded Pacemakers in the nation! We found out Sunday morning that our website, the Link, and last year's yearbook, Found, were in the top ten for Best in Show! It was a big weekend, and I couldn't be more proud to see all this hard work noticed and rewarded!
Another small advantage of coming to this conference was looking at the way the conference was run because, in February, Harding is hosting the Southeast Journalism Conference (SEJC), and I am on the executive board to plan and organize that conference as well. That's something else I am doing by the way.
Where I am Right Now: Emotionally
As I began writing this post, I was sitting on my all-too-comfortable hotel bed in the Sheraton Dallas Hotel and Convention Center. I attended conference classes all day from Thursday to Sunday afternoon, and, after looking at the schedule on the bus, I was really excited for the opportunities I was about to have to grow and learn more about what I am doing and how to do it better.
After discovering that this is a conference based mostly around newspaper staffs and that the yearbook classes were hosted in the small rooms on the fourth floor, I began to realize just how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing where I am doing it.
After attending Yearbook trend classes that were stuck in high school trends and hearing panel discussions about how much other schools are struggling with yearbook funding, support and awareness, I realized how much opportunity I have been given on the student publications staff at Harding University. We produce a book that is over 500 pages long that contains no advertisements and requires no selling from us except for simple awareness when they are distributed (which is a party in April and easily one of the best days of the year). We print over twice as many copies as other schools and last year we were nervous about running out of books to distribute.
When I joined this staff as a freshman, it was not because I knew it to be a well-funded, prestigious student media program. I just wanted to be at Harding, and I wanted to do editorial-style journalism. Looking back now, I am not sure I could have picked a better place to be to grow, learn, connect and come in contact with the opportunities I am taking advantage of today.
Not only do we have a good yearbook, we have a yearbook that is nationally acclaimed and is still surviving in a time that not all yearbooks are. One of our favorite publications (other than ours, of course) is the Talisman, which is a book published by Western Kentucky University that was founded the same year as the Petit Jean in 1924. We often look at their book as a competitor and inspiration, but they have made their last yearbook because univeristy funding was cut, and they won one of the other six Pacemakers this year for that book. It's not just lower-level yearbooks that are getting cut; good, prestigious yearbooks that provide incredible student media experience are losing their meaning and importance at other universities. But Harding has continued to support us, and I could not be more grateful.
I may be overwhelmed and stressed out a lot of the time, but I am learning to manage my time and juggle all these different responsibilities in the best way I can. I even attended sessions at the conference about productivity and balancing the roles of student and journalist. One of the suggestions in that class was actually tracking your time and how you are spending it (stay tuned to see what I learn from tracking my own time).
I have come to realize the blessing I have in the people around me as well. Not only do we have the dream team on staff this year, we all work together well and have fun doing it. Making a yearbook with these people is not a job. It is an adventure. We may be recording Hardings's history, but we are making memories and forever-friendships of our own while we do it.
I am grateful to Harding. I am grateful to Kaleb Turner, our editor-in-chief. I am grateful to Katie Ramirez, our advisor. I am grateful to Carlie Tacker, our creative director. I am grateful for Rachel Van Curen, our head copy editor. The list could go on to name every member of our staff from photographers to copy staff to section editors, not to mention my family that supports everything I do. None of what I do is possible without all these other people, and I will be eternally grateful (yes, just like the alien toys in Toy Story).
I may have a busy life, but I just wanted to reach out into the void and acknowledge that I am lucky to be where I am right now with all these amazing opportunities. I can't complain. I have a pretty great life.