My grandmother always told me to value your teachers and mentors, because they will give you the tools you need to achieve your dreams. My granny was an inspiration to me and saved me from myself. She taught me that I had control over my own destiny. When she died her lessons became all the more valuable.
In my life I’ve had many teachers, some good and some bad, but the good ones changed my life. Working at The Edmond Sun has taught me a wealth of many things — most of which I’m sure the seasoned journalists who work here are unaware.
When I first came to the Sun I was very unsure of myself and incredibly nervous. I knew next to nothing about Edmond and all the things I did know about the community made me feel like I wouldn’t be welcome.
All my life I’ve felt out of place and that I made people feel uncomfortable. But the people who work here welcomed me with open arms and I never felt out of place. Everyone was kind and understanding, and they even gave me cake and presents for my birthday — something I don’t take lightly. It made me feel valued and thought of. Gifts are an incredibly important thing in my family and are never to be rejected. To give a gift to someone is show that you matter, and this world we live in such kindness is in short supply. Yet they treated me with respect and dignity and taught me a lot without demeaning me.
The projects I am most proud of include a story about the City of Edmond’s construction of a new water facility, and a first-person analysis story I wrote about the Julius Jones rally. I’m a sucker for science and infrastructure so to be able to see the ins and outs of a facility dedicated to providing clean water to hundreds of people was incredible. What’s more, the people who worked there were so accommodating and interesting and showed me a lot about the importance of what they do. In the Julius Jones analysis I was able to experience a rally like that for the first time. In more ways than one, I got to see history being made and I never would have had that opportunity had I not been given this internship.
Working with co-workers, Aaron Albertson, James Coburn, and Patty Miller, really propelled my abilities as a writer. Simply by watching seasoned veterans of their craft do what they do best helped me learn so much more than I could on my own. As a black man in Oklahoma I am used to the idea of my voice not being heard or respected. But they all treated me like I was one of them, and they’ll never know how much that means to me.
Editor Mark Codner took me under his wing, and while I feel in some ways I disappointed him, I am extremely grateful for his wisdom and instruction. He taught a man to fish, and so now I’ll never go hungry. He took me under his wing and showed me what he knew, and didn’t think less of me when I didn’t always succeed. He was very supportive and understanding and I won't ever forget the lessons he taught me, nor the chance he gave me to prove myself.
This newspaper has been a wonderful place that has allowed me to grow in ways I didn’t think I would. I only hope I can make them proud in the years to come.