I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that I’m actually in Cambodia.

The financial and logistical struggle to get over here was enough to make me give up, but I didn’t.

Studying abroad is something I promised myself I would do before I graduated. I knew my life as a college student wouldn’t be complete without it.

I want no regrets once I walk across the stage, and I knew that I would never forgive myself if I did not pursue a study abroad program.

And why not Cambodia? I’ve already been to two European countries. I know what it’s like to be a Westerner, since I am one.

I needed something new–an authentic experience I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. I always “hear” about life in third-world countries, but I had never seen it first hand.

I am so thankful that I was chosen to participate in my j-school’s Travel Writing in Cambodia study abroad program. I know that travel writing is a craft that takes time to master, and I wanted to at least get my feet wet.

I’ve been here for two weeks now and I’ve already visited Angkor Wat and several other religious temples, walked through villages and rice fields, cruised on the murky waters of the Tonle Sap, volunteered for NGOs and nearly drowned in the Phnom Kulen waterfall.

I can’t forget the strep throat that fully developed by the time I landed in Siem Reap–my first few days here were definitely a struggle because of this. Let me just say, being isolated is no fun.

I may be a little homesick after all these adventures, but I did it for journalism, and I would do it again.

Now, I have about one week left, and I am silently counting down the days until I’m back in Atlanta, sharing my three-week escapade in the Kingdom of Cambodia, with whomever lends me an ear.

Stepping away from my iPhone, iPod Touch or laptop is often a big mistake–things happen in media so fast!

I’m a journalist; I should know better.

What is this new thing called? Flipboard? Yeah, I just watched the video and I’m really excited. And once I scrape up change for an iPad, I will be ecstatic!

My own “personal” magazine, huh? What’s it in for me?

Well, Flipboard apparently knows your friends, your interests and “always has content you care about,” says the unnamed character playing with his iPad on the Flipboard video.

Instead of merely showing the links that Twitter friends are tweeting, Flipboard reveals the article the link refers to, with a print-like layout. Photos included.

It connects to all your social networks and aggregates the content your friends share. Talk about curation!

Frédéric Filloux of Monday Note says every media company should be very afraid of Flipboard. Why?

The interface is appealing; it turns what you may see on Google Reader into something that looks 10 times better. And the best part: there are NO ads.  Some huge media mogul really should have thought this up a long time ago.

But how is revenue generated? I have no clue, but it is a valuable application. Readwriteweb.com says it could possibly bring together app developers and publishers.

Even Oprah’s on board!

See what all the buzz is about below:

The fact that my biological father opted out of helping to raise me is something that I will probably never escape, mainly because it has shaped my existence today. The struggle to deal with this reality was very painful at times during my rearing, and the pain still resonates at times even today.

Growing up, my only outlet for this pain was education. I put forth much effort to excel as a student, and this is a habit that I have continued to maintain as a college junior. No one around me knew what I was dealing with, mainly because they had both parents in their home. My mother, especially, could not understand how felt, but I’m sure she was sympathetic because she made sure I was still a spoiled brat every now and then. My grandmother was also very compassionate and understanding about my situation, and still is. My grandfather, who passed May 7, 2010, was my father figure. I was extremely close to him and he was very influential in my life. I only wish he could have seen me make it to be a published author.

The cover of the anthology in which my personal essay, “My Father’s Absence,” was published

I finally found a new way to express my emotions about my father’s lack of participation in my life – writing. As a passion that developed when I was in the second grade, writing has always been a big part of my life, but I never thought to write down my experience and struggle as a child coming from a single-parent home until I was 19.

My journalism mentor, Chandra R. Thomas, is always keeping me on my toes about finding ways to further my journalism education and experience and during the summer of 2009, she forwarded information to me about an opportunity to submit my writing to Dawn Marie Daniels and Candace Sandy, who were looking for contributors for a new anthology.

I decided to pour my emotions out on paper and discuss the sting I still feel from my father not being around, and how I’m managing to move forward in spite of the pain. I submitted my essay to Daniels and Sandy, and after a few edits, my personal essay was chosen to be in the book!

Souls of My Young Sisters: Young Women Break Their Silence With Personal Stories That Will Change Your Life was released to bookstores and retail shops nationwide in June 2010, and I have never been so proud. Not many people can say that they are published authors at age 20, which is how old I was when the book was released. This is a big deal for me, and I’m slightly still in disbelief!

Since then, I have been thinking about sending a copy of the book to my father. I just need to get a hold of his address…

Posted: March 26, 2011 in From The Heart
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Words cannot do justice to the experience I had earlier this week, when I met my journalism hero, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, on Tuesday, March 22. She returned to The University of Georgia to speak to journalism students at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication (my home!) about her experience at UGA and her life as a professional journalist.

Hunter-Gault posing for a picture with me immediately after her talk at the UGA Grady College

In My Place: An Intimate Conversation with Charlayne Hunter-Gault,” left me speechless. In addition to discussing her UGA experience, she touched on so many concepts that are fundamental for journalists everywhere. I have been dying to meet her since she first returned to UGA in January to kickoff our 50th Anniversary of Desegregation celebration, but her talk was canceled due to the “Snowpacalypse” that came through Athens. I’m glad she was able to come back!!!

Hunter-Gault is one of my inspirations for wanting to pursue a journalism degree and become a professional journalist. She is such a phenomenal individual and I wish to be half the woman she is when I grow up! It inspires me that although she faced many adversities as one of the first black students at UGA, she did not let that discourage her from pursing her desire to become a professional journalist.

The discussion started at 9 a.m. and was supposed to end at 11 a.m. but went over, which was fine because I wanted to enjoy every moment. I had a class at 11 a.m., but I skipped it because I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to tell her what impact she has had on my life (and to snag a picture with her)! She signed my copy of her autobiography, In My Place, and I will cherish it for the rest of my days!

Because of Hunter-Gault (and Hamilton Holmes), I am at a widely renowned university and I am getting the best journalism education the state of Georgia has to offer, all because of her dream to be a watchdog for the public…

GO DAWGS!!!

The Digital Age is in full effect right now, and there’s nothing we can do about it except embrace it and assimilate. I’m excited about these changes, although apprehensive of how well I can adapt. I’m not a tech wizard or anything, but I can say I know some of the basics, like blogging and tweeting, and the importance of alternative story formats, especially for online.

News organizations are looking for new ways to engage their readers, whether that be through a Facebook page, a Twitter account, blogs or the content management systems present on their website.

Change may be intimidating, but I have constantly been told as a journalism student that it’s not enough to know how to do one thing. You must be versatile. It’s especially important to show how well-rounded you are on your résumé.

The one thing that I am really curious about, however, is the groundbreaking, innovative gadget we all know as the Apple iPad. Magazines are starting to take advantage of this tool effectively, and Rebecca Burns of Emmis Publishing weighed in on this topic when I heard her speak today.

Burns, along with Sheri Wilson of Atlanta Magazine, visited Grady College, the J-School I’m enrolled in at The University of Georgia, and did a presentation/discussion titled “Digital Magazines.” Some of the things Burns said stood out to me as a Magazines major:

  • “The iPad is an amazing device that has revolutionized the magazine industry”
  • Although the previous statement is important, “nothing replaces the fundamentals of journalism: excellent reporting, smart writing, and stellar design and photography”
  • “Cross-fertilization: writers need to think about design and designers need to think about writing”

Rebecca Burns showing off apps on her iPad after her talk at Grady College

Many questions popped in my head as these things were being discussed. Will I be trained to produce different versions of a story when I’m employed? Will the price of the iPad drop so average consumers (like me) can enjoy its apps? Will the iPad app take over in the near future? Will magazines disappear before I even get my feet wet in the industry?

The majority of these questions were answered in one way or another, but the thing is, this digital era we are living in isn’t going anywhere, so journalists have to be flexible and also willing to learn new platforms for storytelling.

Good thing I’m in Grady!!!

For those of you who know me, y’all know I love me some Clifford Joseph Harris Jr. (or T.I., as we call him). When Fxck A Mixtape came out a few months ago, I couldn’t get enough of the track featuring Keri Hilson, “Got Your Back.”
It reminds me of the past seven years I’ve been with my significant other, and all of the things we’ve been through. A person on the outside looking in wouldn’t even know the half. It’s been a rough and eventful journey for us to get where we are, and even now we are still functionally dysfunctional. But that’s my BEST FRIEND!
It is very rare for someone my age to even be in a long term relationship, but I like to think that I’m a special case — I do things the abnormal way. I’ve grown to be a “Sucker For Love.”

So, I want to give an extra special shout-out to all the ladies who stand by their men and stick it out through the worst of times. However, if you are fighting to stay with him, he BETTER be worth it! ;)

My Hubby and Me...

Watch T.I.’s new video here!

We all may know this, but I just have to reiterate it. Everyday, we are bombarded with Photoshopped images of boney females with flawless features. Young women and girls in our society have to see these images, and often are intimidated by them (well, I know I am).

It’s easier said than done to be completely okay with the way you look. I still wish to be the flat stomached 16-year-old I once was, because I feel pressure to look that way. If I want to get back to that size, that’s something I must be willing to work toward.

But on the other hand, there are many skinny girls and women who wish to have my curves and voluptuousness, so I must embrace who I am and be proud of my body image.

Read My Latest Article on this Issue

And ladies, don’t forget what T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli said…

Quick Poll…

Posted: July 23, 2010 in From The Heart, Lifestyle, News For You, Quick Thoughts
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