“Hi Jet, nice to meet you! Are you new at the News Press?”
This was a typical response after introducing myself to a source I was wanting to interview. I always felt weird answering their question because I knew the type of response I would get.
“Oh, you’re an intern? You’re not writing this story, are you?”
The first time someone said this to me I was baffled. Why did it matter if I was an intern? I could still write a good story, although it took me a little while to gather the confidence to understand I could do it. It didn’t matter, though. All I wanted to do was prove them wrong.
I was used to proving people wrong at this point in my life.
I grew up in Van Buren, Arkansas, right outside of Fort Smith, in a single-parent household with three other siblings. I’ve been told I would be nothing but a statistic.
“Children with one parent just don’t have what it takes to make it in this world,” I overheard a teacher say once in high school. Another said, “Jet is a good student, too bad he will only ever be a bad statistic for single-parent children.”
I always wanted to prove these people wrong. I never understood what type of disadvantage having one parent put me at. I still don’t understand it. I really never knew any different.
My mother never gives me any slack, especially when it comes to my academics. I just assumed it was expected of everyone to make straight A’s and to be as involved as possible in school.
Sometimes, I hated it. Why did my expectations always seem to be higher than the expectations of others? There were times I would cry to my mom because I didn’t understand why my friend could get a B on their progress report in a class and be OK, but if I did I was grounded. It took me a while, but I realize now my mom was pushing me to prove everyone wrong. To never be a statistic.
I am not some spokesperson for single-parented children. I am not some sort of success story because I never felt like I was at a disadvantage, even when it seemed like everyone else thought I was. My story is not special or different from anyone else’s.
I know I would not be where I am today without the support of my family and the lessons I have learned from them, especially my mom. She is the toughest woman I know, and she instilled that toughness in me. I won't back down just like she never backs down, even when people question my abilities. I tried to take the same approach when it came to this internship.
I have only been a journalism major at Oklahoma State University for a year, and going into it I was afraid I would be at a huge disadvantage.
I had no journalism experience at all. I only ever wrote in my journal and what I was required to write for my classes. I knew even less about the multimedia side of journalism.
The first chance I got I jumped in to the O’Colly to start writing. It was the only way I could think of to catch up to everybody.
I started with movie reviews and slowly worked up to other news coverage. Small, simple news pieces that didn’t hold a lot of weight. The first one I ever wrote couldn’t even be published online because it was edited so heavily.
But I kept writing and continued to improve, and when it came time to apply to internships I was just as clueless as I was at the beginning of my journalism experience.
I never saw an actual application for the Stillwater News Press intern position, I sent an email directly to Beau Simmons asking if there was any type of position available and applied directly through him.
In March, I found out I got the internship and began in June. I was afraid I was way out of my depth my first day, writing crime (a medium I had never written before), going to conferences and covering events I didn't know existed until given the assignment.
But, I persisted. My writing has improved exponentially over the summer, and I have gotten to cover some great stories in my time at the News Press. I owe a lot of thanks to Beau, Michelle, Tanner and Jordan in the newsroom for giving me the opportunity to work with and learn from them.
So, why does it matter if I’m from a single-parent household? Why does it matter if I am “just the intern”? Neither make me any less capable of doing anything.
So yes, I will be writing the story. Why wouldn’t I be?