I realize that saying goodbye isn't part of the final requirements, but I'm being a sentimental senior right now. When you (Mrs. Wantz) said that journalism can open doors, you weren't kidding. Two years ago, I wouldn't have been able to see myself meeting the people I have, being awarded for my writing, and jetting off to Minnesota in the heart of winter. It really is hard to fathom. Thank you Mrs. Wantz for granting that shy, perhaps awkward version of me from two years ago a place in this class. It's been quite a journey that I hope will continue.
First semester, I was involved in Ventura College's dance department, but have danced independently since then. By not being a member of a dance company second semester onward, I've had the freedom to take classes on my own time, audition for college dance programs, and perform for a benefit concert. I also frequent the gym, usually about 4-6 days a week (about 2 hours at a time) and enjoy kickboxing and strength training. I volunteer for DeAnza's after school program for two hours every Tuesday, and attend youth group at least once per week.
Towards the beginning of the year, I remember driving past Ventura's government center the morning of 9/11 (2011), where the tenth anniversary memorial ceremony was taking place. I hadn't remembered if anyone was set to cover it, but I didn't see any reason for me not to do it; I had quite a bit of news-writing experience under my belt, and a journalism camera at home from another article I'd written the day before. When I arrived at the scene, I actually saw Rachel and Jackson there. However, Rachel asked if I could write the story (which I did, happily), and with some help from her, I was able procure quotes from police officers, firefighters, students, etc. and wrote an article that highlighted the entire event.
The months of April and May brought on some hard times outside of journalism, and my most effective way of coping was to throw myself into schoolwork plus journalism. The more responsibilities I took on, and the more productive I was, and ultimately the more initiative I took, the happier I felt. I enjoyed taking on extra articles and projects that I didn't necessarily need, such as the “Hello! My Baby” review, the Day of Silence story, the Foothill gold medal distinction article, and the senior In 10 Years project.
Initiative. I know it's one of Mrs. Wantz's favorite characteristics of a journalist, and I understand why. Taking initiative appeals to me because I like the idea of someone going above and beyond the call of duty, especially when they don't have to. There is a difference between being willing to take action and taking action when it is not necessarily required.
I've always believed in taking every measure to produce the best work possible. If every measure is not taken, then the work is unfinished. If not everyone is putting their best foot forward, then the team fails. Therefore, taking initiative is what keeps something (for example, an online news site) going strong.
When I take initiative, I don't think to myself “Good for me, I'm taking initiative!” When I took on extra assignments (e.g. In 10 Years Project, covering the BrittiCares benefit with Emily Chacon, interviewing a band, etc.), I did it because I felt that initiative was part of my job. When my staffers take initiative, it's the same thing. Chandler Gerard-Reimer created the Tumblr, took on the college map, and secured audio interviews with various artists because she cared. Kirsten Wiltjer created the fashion column series because she wanted to bring her innovation to the site. When Katie Sones comes up with new material to write, it is because she wants to become the best future A&E editor she can be. Everyone had in common the desire to make the Foothill Dragon Press the best of the best in online publication.