Reflections of a CCP grad, part III

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

When I received my letter from Temple University accepting me into the dual admissions program, I was ecstatic and slightly nervous. I entered the Community College of Philadelphia with the goal of transferring to Temple University to complete a degree in journalism.

This has been my dream for some time. I have been writing and regarded as the "community journalist," but I never had a formal education in the field. I wrote by modeling past afterschool instructors. When I received that acceptance letter, I knew I could not only continue with my goal, but also finally get a formal education in journalism.

I was ecstatic that after finally graduating from CCP I would be able to continue with my plan. But I was nervous because I was not convinced at first that I would be accepted into the program. Surely something would go wrong and I would be turned away from the university once more.

Both my English professor Eleanor Cunningham and my college counselor Lynda Shepherd suggested that I enroll in the dual admissions program immediately upon my arrival at CCP. I applied. But after I submitted my application, and received no response from Temple or CCP, I began to worry.

And with that feeling, I became discouraged. It took months, and I am not exaggerating, until I finally received some type of notification from CCP that I was in the program. And after that, Temple followed.

But the question of if I really wanted to continue with college loomed in my thoughts. If I ever did manage to leave CCP and graduate, what would I do next if I decided not to attend school? Did I even want to become a journalist like I had been constantly proclaiming?

With these thoughts, I started wandering somewhat. I wanted to find people on campus who were interested in writing just as much as I was, and I needed something to do while figuring out what it was I truly wanted. For a time, I found that in writing for The Student Vanguard, CCP’s student newspaper.

I was reluctant at first to join since I had just finished writing for the North Philly Metropolis. I hoped that working with the school’s newspaper I could start over and offer some of my talents to the staff. I remember emailing back and forth with the paper’s editor, excited to show what I could do.

And for a time, working with The Vanguard sustained me. I wrote a few articles that I was proud of; others, I will admit, that I was not. I could not cover many campus events because of class. Most of what I wrote were opinion or reflective pieces, ranging from the election of President Obama to the recent passing of my dog.

I stopped writing for the paper for a while, in part because my work was not being edited too well, but I returned in my final semesters. In the interim, I encountered Ari Benjamin Bank, the advisor of CCP’s Human Rights Club and my professor for "Society and Mass Communications" class.

Bank’s class really reinforced why I wanted to become a journalist in the first place. Not only did he have a degree in the field from Temple University, but he was not afraid to teach us to always look beyond the written word. He taught us how media works and what to look for so you are not led astray by it. He taught me my mantra: that everyone, no matter what, has a story to be told.

While interning at The Philadelphia Weekly, I started looking for people, to understand their stories and give them a voice. Telling stories that I think are important and need to be heard is my way of attempting to change the world.

I really appreciated that lesson among all of the other things that I learned in Bank’s class. Before that class, I don’t think I really appreciated a person’s story, or how much it meant for a person to confide in me. This still stands with me today as I run around Temple’s campus interviewing random students. Some are actually thankful that someone is interested in their opinion or their story.

Two months into Temple University and I am finishing up my midterms, and getting used to AP Style. I am both a news and opinion writer for The Temple News, and can sometimes be found wandering around the urban campus and doing person-on-the-street reporting.

Most importantly, for now, I am just trying to get used to finally becoming an Owl.