I remember writing about my four years in high school. That was easy—everything was negative; I hated this, that sucked and to hell with this person. The only saving grace about high school was ROTC and my very small group of friends. College was anything but.
I don’t think I had more than a handful of bad days at FSU or FAMU. Before I get started breaking down my time there, I want to say that, to me, FAMU and FSU are one school. I know they will never be “one school” in name or in administration, but to me they are my alma mater. I’m as much a Rattler as I am a Seminole. I started at FSU, and my degree may be from FSU, but I love FAMU just as much. As a J-School student there, I experienced everything a typical FAMU J-School student might experience. I put my heart and soul into my work there, and it shows on my FAMU transcript. I have a 3.69 GPA at FAMU, enough to be on Dean’s list every semester.
Now that I’ve explained that, I’ll try my best to go in chronological order.
In November 2007, I was accepted to Florida State University. I had applied to seven schools, five of them in Florida. In June 2008 my dad and I flew up to FSU to move me into my first dorm room. I lived in a triple room in Gilchrist Hall—we had our own bathroom. I was the first one to move in—lucky for me because I got first choice of beds, and my bed was practically in a room of its own. That was the lucky part. Dad and I flew up on the American Eagle from Fort Myers (through Miami) to Tallahassee. That was my first experience with Tally’s podunk, ten-gate, two-terminal airport. It’s here that I’ll take you on a mental tangent—the Tallahassee Airport is a joke; there are five or so gates in Terminals A and B. That’s not enough to even have two terminals! Anyway, Daddy and I landed and got a rental PT Cruiser. We drove into town, and got to my dorm. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to take a stab at this thing called college. We got all my stuff moved in—there wasn’t very much because it was only a six-week summer semester. Once we were finished, dad had several hours to kill before his return flight that evening to Fort Myers. We went and got food; I couldn’t even begin to tell you where. I know I teared up when he left, but I didn’t cry. I bet he did though. My roommates moved in a few days later, and we started mingling. We never really “clicked,” but we didn’t fight either. We were roommates—nothing more or less.
A few weeks went by, and I got really homesick. I didn’t really have any friends yet; I had people I hung out with, but no one who I was comfortable talking about anything deep with. It was harder than I thought it would be to make “true friends.” Everyone said college is a way to remake yourself into someone new. I wanted to do that. I told myself I’d be much “cooler” than I was in high school. In my own way, that really worked out, but I’ll explain that later. In my homesickness, I walked around campus, exploring my new world, and I found myself alone, crying on the steps of Moore Auditorium in the union. I didn’t know anyone up here. It was already late June, so three or four weeks had passed. What was I doing wrong? I turned to a fellow I met during orientation earlier that spring. Something told me not to, but I did anyway. I sat there, crying on the steps, and I called him. I told him I was homesick. He helped me through it, but by the following morning he told me he hated me. I don’t really know what exactly happened… I lost the one person I felt connected to, which was exactly what I needed. The following day I told my other friend Mike what I was feeling. He told me he was feeling the same way too, and we immediately became better and closer friends. Mike, his friend Nicole, our friend Zach and a few others formed a group, and we were all sad to see the summer come to an end. Inside I was still extremely excited to get to go home.
Break between Summer and Fall, 2008:
I went home to Naples for two and a half weeks between late July and August, when the fall semester would start. I was so excited to get there; I missed my parents, sisters, friends and dogs. Hell, I even missed my job at Five Guys. I spent a lot of time with my friends, and |retracted| ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– ——– .
I visited my old boss at Five Guys, and I went to my old high school. I only ever go back to visit with my ROTC instructors, but they weren’t there. I sat on our grassy patch outside the ROTC building reminiscing. Before I knew it it was time to go back to Tallahassee. My parents and I made a deal—if I could keep the 100% bright futures scholarship, I could take my car up with me. It started this semester, so I packed up my little black Volkswagen Jetta with what little stuff I had and hit the road. I cried for the first 40 or 50 miles. This started a trend of driving that six-hour drive solo each year. I made it back to FSU with no hickups, but I noticed something…
While moving into Broward Hall—right next door to my summer stomping grounds—I saw 10 times more people. I didn’t know at the time, but over summer FSU becomes a ghost town. Now that August had rolled around, moving into my dorm was like squeezing twice as many sardines in a can as suggested. Moms and Dads and students were everywhere.
I don’t remember much from the majority of my freshman year. A few very important things happened this semester though. Mom convinced me to go to the V89—our campus’s radio station—cattle call. Cattle call is where people interested in getting involved with the radio station go to learn about how they can. I went, but I wasn’t happy about it—oh, how wrong I could be. I didn’t know then, but V89 became the diving board for the rest of my life. Something attracted me to the news department; I couldn’t begin to tell you why I was drawn to news, but I was. I put in an application to join, and they called me to audition for an on air spot. Suddenly I wasn’t unhappy about V89 anymore. They told me I’d need to look up a story online and summarize it into five or six sentences. I picked a story from Al Jazeera and summarized it. I walked in just as nervous as could be. I sat down and they told me not to be nervous. I read it flawlessly, and they hired me. I knew I’d only get an on-air spot once a week for less than five minutes, but I was still excited.
The next week I started. I had a 3:50 shift on Tuesdays. I got there at 1:45—before the last newser had even gone on air. I was too excited to start, but I knew I had to. V89 newsers write one international story, one national, one state and one local story. I got done in less than 30 minutes. I spent the next hour and a half practicing and calling my parents to tell them I was about to go on. The time came—I went into the tank. I was about to go on air. After some weird music, the news music came on, and I started to get a little nervous. The deejay then pointed at me, cuing my start. In that instant, all of my nerves disappeared. I fell in love with broadcasting in that moment.
Another big event happened this semester. After getting involved with V89 the previous fall, I started something I never thought I’d do. I started writing. It’s here that I must tell you in middle school I had a teacher named Annette Kocal. For sixth, seventh and eighth grade I had her for “language arts,” and she constantly told me how I’d never amount to anything with writing. She once took me into the hallway to tell me my writing was illegible, and she stopped a teacher walking through the hall and asked if they could find the space between my words. She could, and I could, but Ms. Kocal couldn’t. Another time she gave me a detention for failing to have my homework finished the day before it was due. That was the weirdest reason to discipline a student I’d ever heard. Anyway… one of my friends from the V89 news department, Felicite Fallon, was the news section editor for the FSView & Florida Flambeau, FSU’s student newspaper. I told her I wanted to start writing, and she gave me an application. I learned that position was a paid one; how excited was I?! It was crap pay—$7 per article—but I didn’t care. I was barely involved in news media, but I knew the more published and more recognition I could get with my name, the better off I’d be in the future.
I still have all my articles from the FSView in my portfolio, and that first one was horrendous. I learned something about myself that I never would have guessed before. I loved writing. As you can probably tell from this entry, from then on writing became a huge part of me. I even bought a physical journal I could write in, but not until about a year after this semester ends.
I came home for the summer, but this time it was a whole summer I spent at home. I worked at Five Guys while I was there, and I took classes at the local community college, Edison State College, during the second half of the summer. That was interesting. I took Chemistry and its lab and Econ 2. The econ class was pretty simple, but my chemistry class was a disaster. I still remember it—I had a former meth-addict for my teacher, who was more than 50 percent blind. She was going to be teaching me how to put two chemicals together to make something else? How did this college find her? She ended up being a pretty great professor, and I got a good grade in that class. The only problem I had is that it was two days a week, and I was there from 9am to 4pm. It was practically a job, and on top of that I had that econ class for three hours every Monday evening. That cut my hours down at Five Guys a lot, but it’s ok. I needed that summer to recuperate from FSU.
I knew what my passion was now, after two semesters of news reporting, so I started taking classes toward majoring in communications. One of my classes required me to start a twitter account, and I was NOT happy about it. I nearly refused, contemplating telling my professor I’d go to the dean because she couldn’t force me to sign up for a social medium for a grade. I caved and got one, but I still hated it for the majority of this semester. Funny—not long after this semester ended I fell in loved with twitter. This semester was dedicated to communication courses—that was what I’d decided I would major in. I took most of my intro classes, and went to advisers to learn about majoring in communications. They told me about the application process and the different course tracks in the communication department. I was worried because they told me about the GPA requirement to apply. I had screwed around the past year and let my GPA fall pretty low. I lost my car, and I was stuck driving dad’s little beetle. I just kept working to improve my grades
The one good thing that came out of seeing an adviser in the communication department was learning that I could minor in journalism at Florida A&M University.
I kept working toward a major in communications, and I started working heavily on my application—ready to submit it in February. I also started my coursework at FAMU in journalism. I met my first mentor—Dr. Bettye Grable. She taught my “Use of Information Resources” class. The title of the class is pretty self explanatory now, but at the time I had no idea what it meant. She taught us ways to look for information. She taught us how to use searching tools, she taught us how to get public records and she taught how important it is to question everything. She didn’t take any shenanigans from anyone, and that’s exactly what I needed. There was one assignment where I had to bring in a death certificate; it didn’t matter whose, but I had to use my resources to acquire one. I ended up having to pay for it from the health department, but she told us that sometimes things cost money. I didn’t realize it then, but she was the best thing to happen to me in the past year of school.
I had another application and interview process started this semester. I applied and interviewed to be a resident assistant in housing. I found out in March that I was hired as an RA in DeGraff Hall with one of my friends, Manda. I have to admit I was worried about working with her; I was afraid becoming coworkers would damage our friendship, but it never did—thankfully.
On the campus level, a major shift happened. In February, a new president, Eric J. Barron, started his tenure at FSU.
This summer I had my first internship. I worked in Estero, Fla. for Beasley Broadcasting Group. I worked for the morning show on B103.9 WXKB: Big Mama and the Wild Bunch. I hated it. Well, I didn’t hate the place; I hated Big Mama. I had never met a more hate-filled, spiteful or just plain mean person in my life. He could yell at someone at the drop of a hat like it didn’t mean anything. He once told a woman she was a horrible mother. How do you do that without feeling the smallest taste of remorse? One good thing came out of it—I got out of my V89 shell. I met some new radio folks like Babs and Adam Star, two of the other personalities on the show. Turtle, the other girl who answered phones with me, and I got along really well. She came up to visit me during my last semester at FSU.
Now I am a junior in college. This is surreal. How have I gotten this far? This semester was hell on earth. I took nothing but communication courses, but around September I learned I had not been accepted to the Communication major. They only looked at one thing—GPA. Single criterion. I was livid. No. I was beyond livid. I had a letter of recommendation from the former president of the university, TK Wetherell. I had a resume that could rival any of the graduates from the program. I had interviews and story clippings that were better written than some of the faculty could have written. I met with deans, assistant deans and teachers trying to get them to reverse their decision. I was accepted to the university under the premise I would never bejust a number, yet that’s exactly what I had become to the College of Communication—a number. The only thing they saw about me was my GPA—my number. At the time it was a 2.86; it wasn’t stellar, and I knew that. But there is so much more to a student than just their GPA.
This semester I also got started at the television station at FAMU. I started as the audio board operator for the show Reality Check. I took it seriously, and I showed up every week to record our show.
No matter what I said, CCI would not accept me to the mass communication major, so I was stuck finding an alternative major. That was extremely difficult; they told me about a new English major called Editing, Writing & Media. They said it was the closest thing FSU offered to journalism. I signed up for it, just wanting to study something so I could finish this year. All of my courses up to this point were completely useless. I wasn’t majoring in Communications, and I wasn’t minoring in it either, so I’d wasted almost a year’s worth of courses.
My senior year will come with another blog post entirely.