“You can only become great at that which you are willing to sacrifice for.” Truer words could never be spoken. I have had the pleasure—no; the honor of being shaped (at least in part) by Marguerite “Maya” Angelou.

Very few people have the ability to say they’ve been shaped by such a powerful person as Maya Angelou, but I have. She has taught me more than I think even she knows. After reading I know why the caged bird sings , I couldn’t help but feel connected to her. Then I heard the audiobook version. Do you know anyone with a voice as powerful as that? I don’t. Inspiration can come in very small things, like the stanza of a poem. I’m not big in poetry, but I’ll be damned if “I Rise” hasn’t become the motto of my life. I once wrote in my private journal that Maya Angelou has a “glowing, deep and serious voice [which] has a way of making words seem infinitely more powerful than their creators ever dreamed them to be.” I have never written anything I more firmly believe.

“You can shoot me with your words,
you can cut me with your lies,
you can kill me with your hatefulness,
but just like life—I’ll rise.”

I’ll admit—I’m absolutely terrified to begin graduate school. What if it’s not for me? How will I pay back that debt? What if I’m no good? But you know what? None of that matters. What matters is my drive, determination and passion. I once “checked in” at the Manhattan Bridge, and someone asked how I got to go to all of these cool places; the only thing I could think to reply with was “with drive and determination, mostly.” There is absolute truth in that. As Doc Emmett Brown once said, “if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” So, Columbia University in the City of New York, bring it on! Hit me with your best shot because there’s nothing you can throw at me that I won’t take in stride. New York City—bring it on! I’ve never felt more comfortable in a big city than I do in the big apple.

I have all of these emotions coursing through my body right now. I’m 7 days away from graduation—I’m already done with my undergrad classes; all that is left is packing my room and waiting for Friday, April 27. At 7:p.m. But who’s counting? I’m amazed that I made it this far; I’m ecstatic that I’ve accomplished this; I’m proud—very proud of what all I’ve done; I’m excited to see what the future holds; I’m sad to see all of my friends and connections here fade into my past; I’m afraid of all of my future success; I’m angry it’s come this quickly; I’m astounded at the statistic that I’ve become a part of. Emotions galore, and they all rotate through my brain at (what seems like) a million miles per minute. I have to say that without my friends and my family, I’d be nowhere near where I am today. I have the greatest support system in the world. I may have been single for the past four years, but someone once told me “Turner, you just haven’t found someone who can keep up with you yet.” Oh, the truth behind that statement. I may have missed out on the “college promiscuity,” but I more than made up for it in making a name for myself. I guarantee you walk anywhere on Florida State’s campus OR Florida A&M’s campus and mention my name, someone around you will know who I am. I don’t promise you they have the best of things to say, but they know who I am and they know what I’m good at.

To come back to what I intended to write about—inspiration—I have to say that there is no inspiration like lyric-less music. There is a song I’ve known since I was very young, and it has no words. Banana Wind by Jimmy Buffett—on the album of the same name—has no words, but its meaning is limitless. Every time I have listened to it I have learned a new meaning to the song. It’s songs like this one that can let you escape into the creases in your own mind and just think. Get away from it all; escape into your own head. That brain—it has creases and folds that form a maze that you can never know what all it truly contains. Take a moment, turn the lights and music down low and just drift away. Drift into a stream of transient though, careening through creative alternatives and amaze in all your mind has to offer you.

One day I will come back to Florida State University, and I will give a commencement speech; I am sure of this. I don’t know how soon or how far away, but I know it will happen. I believe I have really made the most of my education here, and even though there were some serious downfalls, I wouldn’t trade a moment of it. I think my inspiration has been my previous success. No. That’s just a bonus. My inspiration has been everyone around me. I know it seems like I write and report “for me,” and it can seem like a selfish job that I’m doing—trust me when I say it’s not. I truly am just that engrossed and in love with what I do that I push myself to do even better. I know that my reporting can help people. I know that there are just some stories that need to be told and no one else will do the telling—that leaves it up to me to tell these stories. I must. It’s what I do. It’s what I live for. So, to come full circle—you can only become great at that which you are willing to sacrifice for. Would I sacrifice for journalism? It and family are the only two things I can ever see myself sacrificing for.


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