When looking for a college to go to, I looked at every nationally accredited institution for journalism in Texas and its surrounding states. Everyone I knew wanted to go to a big Texas university: UT, A&M, Tech or TCU. However, I saw something special in ACU.
To be honest, I’d never heard of ACU until I came for a tour as part of a college preparatory program called Upward Bound. I had no interest in coming to a Christian university, though I grew up very active in the church. I was under the same assumption that many others were: I’d just be paying to go to Bible study, something I already did weekly for free.
I went about the tour with no intention of paying attention or caring about what the guides had to say. Then, when we separated into majors. Hidden in an old building by Moody was something quite surprising for such a small school. Within its unassuming brown walls, there’s an ESPN broadcast studio, NPR radio station, and an award winning student-run news publication, things you only typically find in much bigger schools.
In fact, it is the only nationally accredited school in Texas of its size by a long shot. Yet, because of the small size of the department, students have the opportunity to have access to these tools and training from their first semester.
Here, at ACU, I was never told no. If you want experience and you ask for it, professors and upperclassmen are more than happy to teach, edit and guide you to whatever your goal is.
I picked ACU because I could graduate early from a small school with the connections and portfolio necessary to get me into whatever job or graduate school I wanted. And that certainly came to fruition.
Not only did I have the opportunity to have the all of the experience, portfolio and internships that I was willing to work for, I found a really unique family.
Being on the editorial board is one of my favorite things I have ever done. Working closely with a staff that loves and cares about The Optimist and honest reporting has created a family-like atmosphere that you truly don’t get anywhere else. Even outside of people I have worked or had classes with, I found family through ACU alumni.
Our programs are so small yet such good quality that any time I have run into an ACU JMC alumni in the job search, without knowing me they have vouched for my ability to do whatever job I have applied for. They know based on shared experience that I have been through a program that puts real world experience first, and they rely on that when looking for candidates.
I took part in three different internships while at ACU, all because of alumni who were willing to go out of their way to train me. With alumni, professors, and fellow students who are willing to stick their neck out for you to get where you want to go, it will never cease to amaze me how small each class’ journalism majors are coming in. Perhaps I should be grateful for that though because it gave me a family, a voice, passion for my career, and the confidence to go into graduate school and the workforce knowing that I have everything I need to succeed.
Taking classes from professors in this department is what led me to change my career path to aim for professorship in the future. Without their guidance I wouldn’t have pursued graduate school and gotten into the UNT’s master’s program, the only accredited journalism program in Texas and surrounding regions. I also wouldn’t have gotten an internship at The Dallas Morning News, fulfilling a dream I’ve had since I was first able to write.
Whatever direction I decide to go in with my journalism career, I know that ACU has prepared me for anything and JMC alumni are anywhere I am.