I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I never would have imagined where this journey would take me.
I have lived in Valdosta for 22 years of my life and I was ready to leave the city once I graduated from Lowndes High School. However, I changed my mind once I stepped foot onto Valdosta State University’s campus during a tour.
When I enrolled at VSU, I was undecided for two years until I met Dr. Pat Miller who introduced me to journalism. It was exactly what I wanted to do, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. She showed me how to get out of “student mode” and become the journalist that was hiding inside of me.
I came to The Spectator one night as a sophomore and it opened my eyes to what it would be like to work in the journalism field. I started off as the assistant opinions editor for Hunter Terrell who later became one of my best friends. She taught me how to create pages and write opinion stories.
I met my adviser for The Spectator, Dr. Ted Geltner, who showed me the exciting opportunities I could have in the journalism field. Another a big thanks goes to Cindy Montgomery who I was always excited to see every Monday night for class.
The previous editor-in-chief Gabe Burns took me under his wing. I couldn’t thank him enough for teaching me how to become a better writer, copy editor, and showing me that it is possible to achieve your dreams in the journalism field. Like Gabe, I am also writing my final goodbye on deadline.
After being the assistant opinions editor, I became the content editor where I worked alongside the editor-in-chief Kelsey Dickerson. Kelsey, thank you for everything. I couldn’t thank you enough for staying up till two in the morning with me while we worked on stories, attending events and interviews for The Spectator, interviewing Waka Flocka, and most importantly, being a great friend.
There are so many people that I have met within the program: Veronica, Robert, Julie, Bethany, Juston, Preyah, and Bryce. However, one person that I met on the first day of college and has been with me since day one of taking journalism classes is Alex Dunn. I am so thankful that I got to meet her and become her best friend.
As a journalism major, I had the opportunity to work at the City of Valdosta Public Information Office where I worked under Sementha Mathews who made me grow as a journalist and as a person.
This journey as a writer took me to Los Angeles, California to meet amazing journalists, Athens, Georgia to network with college journalists during the summer and to Athens, Georgia again with The Spectator staff where we won seven awards, and now it will take me to Washington, D.C. this summer to work with the Washington Times as a reporter for the nationwide desk. I am excited for this new opportunity and what it will entail.
I give special thanks to my mom and dad who have always been there for me and have watched me grow as a journalist. I couldn’t thank them enough and I am truly thankful to have them in my life.
As I step away from working at The Spectator, I know it will be left in good hands with our upcoming editor-in-chief Juston Lewis. He is extremely organized, a great leader, and will be able to handle anything that comes his way.
Everything happens for a reason. And I am so thankful that I chose VSU and my major in journalism. I cannot wait to see where this journey will take me, and I am so thankful for everything that has happened during my four years at VSU.
Written and photo by Darla Dunning, Content Editor.
Darla was an exceptional student as a freshman in my writing classes. I’m so proud of everything she accomplished during her time at Valdosta State!