Stillman College laid the foundation for my future success

Published 6:32 am Sunday, February 19, 2023

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Last weekend, the past and present sent shockwaves through my body at Stillman College’s Homecoming.

Thirty-five years ago, I was a high school senior at Holt High School and three months away from graduation.

Whether or not I would graduate on time wasn’t a mystery. The question marks surrounding my future were: how high my Grade Point Average would end up and where I was going to college.  Several of my classmates already made choices to attend college, JUCO, or trade school, while I remained undecided.

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Stillman College wasn’t on my radar then despite my older sister going there. I planned to attend Shelton State Community College during the summer and transfer to the University of Alabama either in the fall or winter semester. My goal was to become a Sportscaster. Alabama has one of the top communication schools in the nation.

I stayed with that plan until three days before graduation. My sister suggested, ‘Give Stillman a try. If you don’t like it, head to Alabama next year.’’

At our rehearsal before graduation two days later, I announced to my classmates that I was going to Stillman College.

When I arrived at Stillman that summer, I was surrounded by other freshmen struggling to find their way. We went from super seniors to unknown freshmen.  Some of us survived and rediscovered ourselves, finding the right words for a research paper in English and solving a complicated Algebra problem.

My freshmen classmates and I also benefited from the advice of several underclassmen who were always willing to pass on their wisdom at a minute’s notice.  They helped us overcome our growing pains. It’s always great to see them every year at Homecoming.

The turning point for me came during my sophomore year.  Stillman College Journalism professor Stephen F. Jackson recommended that I switch from broadcasting to print journalism. Jackson told me he saw great potential in me as a newspaperman than a broadcaster.

I took Jackson’s advice as it opened many doors for me. Jackson got me an internship at The Tuscaloosa News, where I learned sports journalism under the late Cecil Hurt. Winning a Pulitzer Prize highlighted my 26 years at The Sun Herald. I’ve won numerous awards at my current job, The Selma Times-Journal.

Six members in the Class of 1992 have passed on over the years. Some freshmen that arrived with me did not reach the four-year journey to earn a college diploma.

Emotions washed over me as I saw several members of my freshman class who reached the holy grail on Mother’s Day. 1992. I’m proud and honored we graduated together.

The decision to attend Stillman College was the best move I ever made. I realized that Stillman College’s road to a journalism career was just as capable as The University of Alabama’s. I’m grateful for that opportunity and my lifelong friendships with the Class of 1992.