The APA Convention: Reminded Why I Love What I Do

Today I had the esteemed honor of attending the Alabama Press Association Journalism Summit! I’ve never been surrounded my so many journalists in my life, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Speakers who’ve gotten to travel all over the country and explore so many different topics reminded me once again why I joined the journalism community.

It helped that I knew a friend who works with me for the school newspaper, and together we were in absolute awe listening to this experienced reporters share their stories and their advice.

We started with speakers from the Tuscaloosa News, the local paper I intern for, and they spoke of winning the Pulitzer for their reporting during the tornado that hit the city back in 2011. When the power went out, they continued to get the word out to residents through Twitter, which is now an essential part of a journalist’s career. What surprised me even more was that I knew three of them by name, some I’d spoken to myself, others had visited my 100 classes freshman year.


I think the most impactful moments of the day had to be Hank Kilbanoff and Joey Bunch, Kilbanoff is a Pulitzer prize winner, and Bunch has been nominated five times and was a part of the staff that covered the 2012 Aurora shooting. Both had their own stories to tell, and both will stick with me for the rest of my life.

Kilbanoff spoke of his work with The Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University. He created a class for students that focused on racially motivated murders that became cold cases when the culprits actions went unpunished. The cases were focused from post WWII to the early 1970s and the examples he showed us were pretty astounding. It made me wonder if I would ever like to report on race and gender topics. Another student, after hearing his story, claimed she would be changing her major from Journalism to Law. Personally, I think I’ll stick with writing, but he did have me thinking about the amount of injustice there was back then, and still is today.

He won his Pulitzer for his book The Race Beat, I was so intrigued with his work that I was willing to pay right there for a copy of his book. I was fortunate enough to be a college student, and he provided six copies for free and signed them personally! I’ll be starting his book first thing tomorrow, and I know if it’s half as good as his lecture, I’ll enjoy it.


Bunch’s story was more personal, speaking about his experience traveling to Colorado after growing up in Alabama. As well as the Aurora shooting Bunch covered the Sandy Hook shooting months later in Newtown, Connecticut.  He said the experiences caused him to believe that he didn’t want to continue living. Everyone in the room was completely silent, listening to a story that could very well be any one of us in the room. I always think about the luxuries of being a journalist, telling stories, meeting new people and learning new things, but I rarely think of the tragedies.

I think Bunch’s speech reminded me that I’m not only a journalist for me, but for other people. People want their stories told and I’m the medium for that. Covering tragedies and horrors will be a part of the job, but it will be necessary. Bunch explained that now he’s much better and he learned that you can’t run away when you’re hurt or afraid. The audience responded with many nods, agreeing that this is what we do.


The day ended with publishers giving the students advice, how to stand above the crowd in interviews, how to go above and beyond on your resume and why you shouldn’t be shy. “Interviews should be a conversation” I remember someone saying, and I took it to heart. I know I’m guilty of shyness during an interview, but I definitely want to get better.

Overall this was one of the greatest journalism experiences I’ve had so far, if anything I want to meet more people with amazing journalism experiences and start creating my own.


I Made It!

A lovely couple who I refer to as Mom and Dad have generously allowed me to travel 2,000 miles east and spend the next four years in a new home while they generously pay for it all. I made it to college, and I and I’m not sure if I am totally excited, or scared out of my mind. I thought I would lose my mind when I hugged my parents and sisters goodbye, then I felt like I was having the time of my life laughing and joking around with two new friends I met at orientation. I successfully took my first shower in a community bathroom, and I live to tell the story, I am attempting to make tea with no spoon…will a pen work? And my roommates, who I have learned grew up together, have left to join their friends in a night of excitement, while I pray that my styrofoam cup does not get destroyed in this microwave. All in my first day, did I mention classes have yet to start as well? 

Overall it was a pretty good day I suppose, tomorrow I get to shop for myself, spoons will be purchased, and I will travel this massive campus and find where all my classes reside. Anyone else have a rush of emotions when they first started college? I think it would help to talk to some people who knew what I was talking about. 

Being Proud of Yourself

I went from never having a cavity to recieving three fillings a couple days ago. Everyone keeps telling me that it’s totally normal to have a cavity. On top of my pure burring dislike for Dentist Offices and my intense abnormal fear of surgery, (my mom informed me that the correct term is “procedure” but anything that involves cutting, drilling, removing, adding, or separating in my book is surgery) I was really disappointed about this. I’ve been stressing about it for the last three days, wondering why it bothered me so much, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I was simply really proud. I think often times we forget just what it means to be proud of the small things we accomplish everyday. I recently read an old blog post someone wrote about being proud of yourself everyday. (He was also a perfectionist, but I’m leaving that out).

I don’t only mean pride as in work promotions or huge weight loss either. I mean simply being proud of yourself for getting everything done that day. Both of my parents work, my father is in the Navy and my mother is a nurse, both of them work an hour away from home. So after there tiring work day, and frustrating drive through traffic home, I find it so amazing that they still find the energy to take my sisters and I to practice, make sure we’re doing well in school, cook, clean a bit, and watch a movie with us before bed. They simply see it as “What I’m supposed to do” but I don’t believe that you cannot be proud of that.

The definition of pride is pleasure of satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself. I don’t know about you, but that describes me to a tee when I wake up in the morning to a clean, vacuumed, laundry-done room. It’s rare, but it’s important to me. In an article by Harvey Mackay, Take Pride In Your Work, Not Yourself, he has some good tips on how to appreciate your work, and what you do. (He goes a bit overboard on why you shouldn’t have too big of an ego in my opinion, but I suppose that’s implied in the title). Bottom line, it’s okay to be proud of yourself every once in a while, even if you haven’t found the cure to cancer. Working hard every day is something to be proud of, if you ask me. And don’t forget to floss!

What To Write About

I am still stuck on what I want this blog to focus on. I had an idea when I created it, but then I lost track of where that idea was going and so, I set it free. People keep saying write about whatever I want, but “whatever I want” could mean endless rants about…well anything. I don’t want to keep talking about myself, I’m really not that exciting, although I have been told I am a terrible cook. Anyone interested in my journey from Ramen Noodles to Steak Dinners? Maybe I should just band wagon and post pictures of my food, though that might result in numerous IHOP pancakes and PB&J sandwiches. The possibilities are endless…and that’s sort of the problem, how do you pick one? Or two? Or a few out of a million? Sure, I don’t have to pick at this very moment, but I would also like something to do this summer (besides get a job…that’s not even being considered so now I have 999,999 possibilities). Maybe then I’ll stop posting every three months! 

Here’s To Trying

I’m coming to terms with the fact that I might not be as interesting as I’d like to be. I am terribly shy, I enjoy hanging out with friends and family, but because I am so anti-social, I wouldn’t consider myself outgoing. The only real risks I take are staying up an extra hour or two to “binge watch” Netflix, and sneaking an occasional chocolate milk despite my stomach’s intolerance for dairy. Last week I debated forever whether or not I should audition to speak at my upcoming graduation, and the last day I bailed, I even spent hours working on the speech. I am 18 years old, and it’s no secret I have never tasted alcohol, and that I have absolutely no idea where I could purchase marijuana. Of course, these things are illegal, but my point is the thought of it has never even crossed my mind, is that normal? My solution to my extreme hesitance in life? Create a blog. The only problem with this is that 1) I am afraid of posting my opinions, 2) I have no idea what to post about and 3) even if my head was filled to the brim with ideas, who’s to say anyone will really care? It’s definitely an awkward situation to be in, I mean, even now I am writing this while I should be preparing for prom tomorrow. Perhaps my problem is lack of effort…excuse me, my problem IS my lack of effort. If I had a nickle for every time I imagined someone’s rejection or disapproval, I would be dining with Bill Gates. This is seriously going to force me to look outside my own opinions, I have already read some pretty amazing things, from book reviews, to photography tips, to committed republicans and die-hard liberals. My very first post even got a bit of feedback! Soon enough, I’ll be heading off to college without my parents, and I’ll have to get a job *shudder*. But until then, I wanna try a few new things, maybe take a bike ride or read a book that isn’t about a paranormal romance, until then…Here’s to trying!

Who I Am And Why

Hello, my name is Kyarra [Key-are-rah]. I think I’ve mentioned why I’m starting this blog in the first place, but just to reiterate some things, I’m starting it because I love to write. I love sharing and hearing ideas from people. I believe it brings us closer together and helps promote diversity and uniqueness. I’m blogging, rather than keeping a personal journal, because no one can see a journal. I want people to be on this ride with me, even if we never meet. If I blog then people can give me their inputs on whatever I talk about, whether they agree or disagree. I hope to be able to write about a multiple of things, mainly my own writings and thoughts, but also promote human rights and others’ beliefs and values. I suppose it’s a broad subject, but I think people can easily relate to those topics. I hope to connect with people close to my age, but I’m perfectly capable with having a conversation with someone older or younger. I think people my age have the most to say sometimes, we’re all filled with questions, and I’ve learned that questions lead to some of the best discussions. If 2014 proves to be successful, then I’ll continue to blog probably for a long time to come. I hope to be a journalist someday and maybe even a young adult author. That journey will probably prove to be a blogging site in itself!