Friday, December 20, 2013

Limitless

The date above might not show it, but for more than a week, I have been thinking about how to start this post.

I thought about an anecdotal lede, but that would not have made sense, all I did was walk. And, I was too young to remember anything anyway.

I put my best foot forward, literally, for the first time Christmas Day 1993.

Since then, my feet have touched the blankets on a hospital bed when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2nd grade.

And they walked with me in middle school, as a 6th grader with a push button Nokia cell phone. I trekked up steps in high school to my Journalism-1 class (only the teachers had elevator access).

Flip-flops wiggled between my feet signaled comfort on multiple international vacations. Water parks, beaches and everyday Miami too.

Then, I upgraded to dress shoes. Interviews and elevators. All kinds of coverage in all kinds of places: New York, Phoenix and New Orleans, to name a few.

I walk quite a bit today. When it's convenient (or this isn't an elevator or moving walkway close by) of course.

I would imagine I kept walking after taking my first steps two decades ago Christmas Day. I moved forward, free from the limitation of crawling.

And, not much has changed. I still walk without limits.

Friday, November 29, 2013

In A World Like This

I had originally started this post listing all the cities and countries I visited this year, but making a list does not do it justice.

From four months in Phoenix to a humbling week in Haiti, this has been my most productive year, ever. My high school English teacher used to joke that if he ever had kids, he would only give them financial support once they were stable, which meant at least three years in a job. 

And I have plenty to be thankful for in my third year. I only started this thing called journalism when LeBron James "took his talents" to South Beach in 2010. Still, despite multiple New York Times bylines and a job offer, I cannot wait for what 2014 has in store for me.

A colleague recently told me that I was "very, very aggressive." And, I still have my foot on the gas pedal.

In two weeks, I am heading to New Orleans for a winter internship with The Times-Picayune. So this is sort of a year in review, since my time in "The Big Easy" will take me into the new year.

The journalism sphere is small, as I have realized running into multiple colleagues at various conventions and social meet-ups.

But, what a world it is. I won't stop pursuing the craft. until

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dog Days

My middle school math teacher once said "Every dog has its day." I think do not think he meant finding "The One," at least in middle school, but I always took that saying to heart.

It is easy to lose focus of an end goal, be it a future spouse or a full-time job. Stories and deadlines pile up, and sure, it will get easier soon, but what about "her?"

I have taken the patience approach over the last couple months on the topic. The last time I addressed "The One" was back in May. Of course, I would be lying if I said I do not think about a future spouse often, whether it's praying for a chance encounter or whatever pre-conceived notion comes out of the romantic Hollywood movies I have watched over the years. 

And, I think she is close. I can just sense it. Last year at this time, I worried about a summer internship before having to turn down offers later on. 

I think I will meet her soon. And I think I will have multiple job offers (I already have one) when I graduate, despite what the industry perception might be. 

But how do I know? I don't, but I have faith.

As I continue to work hard in both respects, in what I call 'Dog Days,' I think a breakthrough is coming. Just wait. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Curtains Up

If I could sum up my summer in one moment, it would be seeing my favorite artist a couple weeks ago in concert. A video played overhead as my heart pulsed with excitement. Then the curtains went up - and the same excitement resonated, only with a greater intensity.

That is what I feel every time I research a fact, call a source or write a lede within the craft of journalism.

Beyond News21 and the continued success there, I already have a job offer and fellowships to Haiti and Atlanta planned this year. And that does not even include potential freelance gigs and/or other enterprise assignments.

It has just been one thing after another - and I am ever so grateful. My productivity has skyrocketed, but I still find leisure time, which includes sleeping late (a shocker, I know) and watching movies with friends.

My desire to land new internships is still there too, but it is not to pad my resume, I just love what I do. I wake up early with a smile on my face knowing what I will report on today will be different than the last.

And I approach it much like the curtains, reinforced intensity; the main act waiting behind it, ready to put on a show.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Golden

At a social gathering last week, a News21 colleague mentioned that last year's work was the most publicized by any college media group. Ever.

This point quickly glossed over the group as the conversation slid into another area, but it stuck with me. Wow.

Last year at this time, I was grinding away back in South Florida, covering everything from the Miami Heat championship parade to assisting in Hurricane Andrew 20th anniversary coverage.

Now, the exposure factor is, well, golden.

It seems like every journalism success I encounter is met with a subsequent opportunity or connection that further strengthens my foothold in this industry. And I am grateful.

There is no secret formula;
it is simply faith, hard work and connections, in that particular order.

But, sometimes, where I am today does not really sink in until much later.

Last summer, I had an engaging conversation with Jill Abramson of The New York Times on Times-Picayune circulation coverage. I knew talking to her was huge at the time, but it seems even more grandiose now.

And it will probably be the same way with the picture to the right of this blog post. That picture is from my rotating fellow display on the News21 website (you may have to refresh it a couple times), another humbling honor.

While I often talk about working hard, stopping to reflect in the moment is quite fulfilling too.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Home Stretch

Forgive me for another cliche, but it is time to put my best foot forward.


Since December, I have planned, organized and reported on post-9/11 veterans - traveling across the country on planes, buses and even down a California highway.

Now, like my editor said this week, the home stretch is upon me.

I have meticulously stared at a computer screen for upward of six weeks, double-, triple- and quadruple-checking each source and statistic. 

And, I love every minute of it.

The end result will be more than a byline or photo credit, but my largest completed work to date. I always said Year Three would be my breakout year and that goal has morphed into a reality. Just three years ago, I spent three weeks doing a semester's work of journalism that ultimately shaped my career path. 

I have not stopped since. 

After News21, I have less than a week of rest before starting another internship in the Phoenix/Tempe area. The Arizona weather has slowly gotten bearable, while my journalism skills have improved with each edit and story critique. 

I am doing more than hitting the ground running, but rather speeding to a full-time job within the year. The finish line is a reachable goal, but I am ready for another home stretch - and I have not even finished this one yet! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

'Do More'

As I weaved my way into a window seat aboard a 47-minute flight from Memphis to Knoxville, I started a conversation with Charles; a 75-year-old retired schoolteacher from Prescott, Ariz.

I explained my summer fellowship and the reasons for my trip to Knoxville, to report on post-9/11 veterans. He grew more curious, telling me about his work with veterans as a rehab counselor.

Then, without much hesitation, he said: "Do more, the work you are doing is really important."

So, I will.

I am just about at the halfway point in my in-depth reporting project, but there is much more work ahead. In addition to finalizing published material, I can curate the extra content I have into different multimedia elements or just as standalone pieces.

Either way, it will be done.

Gradually into the conversation with Charles, he mentioned some of his health complications and I shared with him my 12-year (and counting) tenure with Type 1 Diabetes.

He shot off another quick reply.

"You're really needed," he said. "Make sure you take care of your Diabetes."

Friday, May 31, 2013

The One

When will I meet her? Have I met her already?

These are questions that bounce around in my mind on a daily basis.

Admittedly, I am quite impatient, or maybe persistent. Or both.

With all my journalism and spiritual success (I try to read at least three Bible verses a night), it is easy to lose sight of this need. But, I never lose faith in the process.

"The One" is unique in the sense that it is someone I will chose, it isn't family or a budding friendship bound to happen with similar classes or hobbies. I rely on fate, being myself as I experience daily life, hoping that one day I will have "my day."

The day where I meet her for lunch. Or for a first date. Or...who knows?

I often dream about this moment, or ask God for dreams hinting at her well-being. It may sound crazy, a bit far-fetched, but I have always been a head in the clouds romantic.

As I mentioned earlier this year, I am ready to give someone "the best or nothing."

Those are bold words to live by. But, when she enters my life, I will be ready.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Ceiling

A ceiling usually imposes a limit. It sets a standard for homes, offices and even sports arenas. But, there really is no ceiling.

I may have goals, but they do not limit what I can further accomplish.

In two weeks, I will begin a 10-week journey in Phoenix reporting on post 9/11 veterans using a myriad of mediums and sources. Then, I will return to South Florida and work some more.

Reflecting on LeBron James' fourth MVP award in five seasons, Dwyane Wade said James wants to maximize what God gave him. And the same is true for me.

I will not "settle" for an entry-level reporter position at a newspaper, be it high-profile or local. I would be thankful, yes, but I will strive for a top editor position and then some.

Ceilings are deceptive. They limit creativity and belief. Everything from "Where is the money in journalism?" to "Is your job stable?"

I will answer those questions. Count on it. I do not have a ceiling.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Simply Amazing

Whether its cooking with Top Chefs or getting a 15A print contribution in The New York Times (that happened today), my success so far this year has been unprecedented.

I have reported on breaking news, cruises and even college basketball. It is truly a blessing to have my hard work recognized by top people in the journalism industry. And this is only the beginning.

Just a couple months ago, I worried about landing a summer internship and having no freelance gigs to complement my workload. Then, everything fell into place and I could not be happier. 

I feel like I can conquer any journalism task, be it video, print or radio. The tides continue to turn as I grow within journalism. 

Next month, I will head to Phoenix for 10 weeks to wrap up an in-depth reporting project I have been working on since January.

Then, I have other plans; I just do not know it yet. Waking up everyday to something new is simply amazing, and I will be there to report on it all. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March Gladness

I did it.

I landed a byline in The New York Times this week. Two actually.

This year, I have taken a new approach to journalism. I report on literally everything - local, national or international. If news breaks, I am hooked. I will call public relations numbers, retweet reporters and email sources.

But, no one assigns me to anything; I just pitch, pitch and pitch some more.

And it paid off big time.

However, it is only the tip of the iceberg. I continue to pitch stories, perhaps more than I can handle, but I thoroughly enjoy contributing to the news process; it does not matter if it is a print contribution or a lead byline.

It may sound like a broken record, but I want a full-time job, with benefits, once I graduate next year. That means doing the intangibles, which may not show up in the "box score," but will add to my journalism skill-set.

Taking a deep breath and smiling occasionally does not hurt either. Florida Gulf Coast University's Sweet 16 run netted me the two NY Times bylines - March Gladness indeed.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Little Wonders

It is crunch time. The home stretch. Time to put my best foot forward.

2013 has been filled with a multitude of journalism success, from A-level celebrity interviews to detailed news stories. But it needs to continue - and at a much higher level.

Until May 20, I will be conducting interviews and overseeing the News21 education team's coverage of student veterans. That means traveling, balancing work, school and the like. Then I will spend the summer in Phoenix doing it all again, at a much faster pace.

It is a great challenge that has continued to test me journalistically, and I am thankful for it. Heck, I almost landed a print contribution in The New York Times by compiling a list of reactions to Hugo Chavez's death last week.

No one told me to do that, but I did it anyway. Those little things, or little wonders, rather, will be the difference between a paid internship and a full-time job next year.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Best or Nothing

First, a little context.

When I say 'the best or nothing,' I mean working my absolute hardest to achieve success, be it in my career or a future relationship.

But, let me make it a little more clear: I will be the best boyfriend, husband, father and journalist I can be to one lucky lady, period. Three of the four items I listed has not happened yet, but it will, sooner rather than later.

I have always used the motto to describe my journalism workload, but it will expand to the other areas of my life. How can I make myself better in the process?

Motto aside, I have started the year stronger than I ever thought possible. My News21 fellowship does not start in Phoenix (aside from the weekly seminar I am already doing) until the end of May, but I am already showered with commitments between school, freelance gigs and internships.

However, as I said earlier, I will continue to be "the best (I can be) or nothing." It is all about giving 100 percent, not 99, or 101.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Best Week Ever: Part Deux

What do you a call a week in which everything goes right? A best week ever is what.

The week of Jan. 28 is one for the record books.

It started Monday when I covered the Miami Heat's visit to The White House. I say it simply, but it was a remarkable experience. Before the Heat's visit to the East Room, I sat in on a press conference with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney amid throngs of national media.

Fast forward to Thursday. One of my editors texted me about an opportunity to exclusively interview Jason Derulo (video coming next week) at Turner Tech high school in Miami; the sit-down lasted about 10 minutes, as the room fixated on the questions I asked.

And it gets better.

Friday marked a double dose of journalism coverage. I had a 15-minute one-on-three interview with Nicholas Sparks, Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel concerning their new movie "Safe Haven." Two weeks earlier, I had picked up a Sparks novel, The Wedding, on a whim. During the interview, I thought "this is incredible," but that was the least of my responsibilities. 

I rode out the week aboard the Norwegian Sky on Sixthman's Mountain Song at Sea, a floating bluegrass music festival. I covered the cruise for CruiseCritic.com, a huge blessing in and of itself.

Oh, and ESPNU also offered to use my White House video for their late night show. AND I was offered a summer internship at a newspaper in Kentucky (even though I had to decline, it was a welcome experience, as I am usually on the application end of media gigs.)

One whirlwind of a week indeed. Just wait until the coverage is published! (Well, you'll see it on my social media outlets.)


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Overjoyed

This is exciting.

The next eight months (and potentially more) will consist of hard, in-depth journalism. It starts with News21, but expands into other commitments at CruiseCritic, USA Today College and even a potential trip to cover the presidential inauguration in Washington D.C. later this month.

Success has been more than tenfold and everyday is another chance to improve my journalism skills and/or prepare myself for a greater joy.

That means salsa lessons, talking to younger students and continuing to learn Spanish. When I meet my significant other, I want to be ready - and it is never too early to prepare myself.

The combination of journalism success, a significant other and God (two out of three is pretty good so far!) will pave the way for lifelong excitement.

"I cannot overstate it, I will be overjoyed."


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Show Me What I'm Looking For

The image to the right presents a paradox. Do I want an "amazing human being" or do I want to become one?

Maybe both. Or none at all.

2013 marks a potential breakthrough on all fronts, be it professionally or personally. I just scratched the surface in 2012, ending the year with a winter internship with Redbook Magazine of all places.

I started last year pitching a story in the wake of the Costa Concordia disaster - and I have never looked back. However, I think I have reached the age where I want something much more.

Success is relative without someone to share it with. Maybe I'm hinting at something much further down the line, but while I aspire to land a journalism job in the near future, I also want what the image to the right suggests.

2013 will be the year it all comes together. It already has to some degree. So I will continue to ask God to show me what I'm looking for, it may not come right away, but the journey is the best part.