When I arrived on the Harding campus in the fall of 1980, I was one of those eager but misdirected freshmen who believed there was time on my schedule for every conceivable organization and activity. Sleep and, unfortunately, academics were not high on my priority list.
My chosen field was journalism; my dream was to travel the world, covering the great athletic events for Sports Illustrated. So I immediately sought out the Petit Jean and the Bison offices and quickly signed on the yearbook and newspaper staffs. I was fortunate to spend two years as sports editor of the PJ staff and three years on the Bison staff, the last two as sports editor.
It took me a couple semesters to realize that studying was more important than club softball and the library was a preferred productivity venue over the Harbin ping pong room. But for three years, the second floor of the Hammon Student Center played a major role in my Harding experience as I spent countless hours working alongside some extremely talented individuals on both publication staffs. I’m not surprised that several have gone on to highly successful careers.
I never made it to Sports Illustrated but enjoyed a great career in university sports information and later corporate public relations with companies in the high technology industry, including 14 years with Dell Inc. Today I’m fulfilling my dream of being back at Harding, working in the University Advancement office.
Why do I share this trip down memory lane? Back when we pounded the typewriters or developed film in the PJ and Bison offices, we had no idea where our lives would lead us. But I’m convinced our experience on the student publications staffs helped sharpen our skills and challenged our work ethic, eventually shaping our career paths. I’m certain that each person could share a unique and funny story about their time on the staffs that they remember 30 years later, and they would agree that their work on the publications was among the highlights of their Harding experience.
I hope this serves as an encouragement to the current Bison and Petit Jean staffers who may wonder if their time is spent in vain, or if they are making a difference through their writing, photography or layout design. I know that you are, for your fellow students today and for your future careers. Who knows where it might lead you as you chase your dreams and climb the ladder of success in the years to come. Destination aside, your long hours and hard work on the student center second floor are making memories that you will always fondly recall.
By Ken Bissell,Senior Advancement Officer, BA Journalism ‘84