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Going beyond the classroom

Ayla

AYLA

Major: English – Communication option
Hometown: Arvada, CO

Year: Senior

I have had a lot of amazing opportunities at Fort Lewis College to explore my field of study beyond the classroom. I am an English Communication Major and throughout my time on the campus news magazine The Independent, I have moved through various positions. I started as a Print Reporter and I transitioned to become Online Manager and now for a year and a half I have been Editor in Chief. For three consecutive years I have participated in the Associate Collegiate Press (ACP) Convention; a journalism convention that is held in different cities every year. Many established professionals, advisors, and students from around the country gather to discuss and enlighten others in the field of journalism.

Out of my three ACP Conventions, two were completely funded by The Independent; for the other, I applied for and received the FLC Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities Grant. This provided me with the opportunity to present at the convention I attended, pertaining to how social media generates revenue for your publication. I also got the chance to sit on a student panel regarding managing a four-year news organization.

Regardless if I am just an attendee or presenter, I have always gained so much that furthered my education. I always return from ACP with the wheels in my brain turning with everything I absorbed through the many workshops I attended. The Convention this year continued to prepare me for graduation in May; presenting me with opportunities that will aid in networking within the journalism field.

Ayla, on the beach in San Diego.It is also a bonus that the ACP Conventions are held in awesome locations! When I was a sophomore we went to Seattle, Washington. Then as a junior the Convention was held in San Francisco. This year was in San Diego, California. All places that, prior to the Conventions, I had never visited before.

My main goal in San Diego was to get our publication critiqued, which is a learning experience that students do not acknowledge. But getting both our online medium (www.theindyonline.com) and our print magazine critiqued by an outside professional pulls you out of the comfort zone and offers a learning experience more valuable than initially perceived. Getting positive feedback as well as constructive ideas forces my creative juices to flow. I always love getting new ideas and perspectives about our publication. Sometimes when you work so hard on something seven days a week and essentially 24 hours a day, it is good to get a fresh eye on what we do.

I also went to an informative panel, with four individuals that are just entering the professional world of journalism. Their ages ranged from 23-25, which was very eye opening because that demographic is not far from where I am. At this session the audience had the opportunity to hear their experiences after college as they headed into the real world. Getting tricks on networking, internships, and the reality of what a job in journalism will look like. The presenters were very honest and real and it allowed me to see individual’s real life stories face to face.

These conventions are also an amazing opportunity to strengthen the team of editors. Going to San Diego was bittersweet because it was my last ACP Convention. I attended with editors I am training to take over the publication next year. Proud is an understatement…as we all walked on the beach I got to hear all my editor’s thoughts and goals for the following years. Everyone’s brains were brimming with new information and ideas as was mine.

If I could suggest anything to students is to take advantage of the opportunities college presents you with. I am grateful I was given three chances to discover and expand on my field of study outside of the classroom. College is a wonderful stepping stone to learn who you are, and a lot of that has to do with experimenting with the real world … before you are a graduate.

Today, March 3, 2014, is exactly two months before my graduation date of May 3!  My involvement at Fort Lewis presented me with life changing experiences. I grabbed ahold of every single opportunity I could get my hands on and each offered me invaluable learning.  I hope your experience at FLC does the same. 

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