For the second time, I have returned to Harding as an employee. My first stint began one month after graduation as director of news services in what was formerly known as the Public Relations Office. I was very green, but my boss and mentor, David Crouch (1969-1970 Bison editor), patiently helped me grow into my role that I served for nine years.
This fall, after 10 years away, I begin again — as adviser of Student Publications, which includes The Bison, Petit Jean yearbook and Digital Production Team. In that interim, I had three kids and carved out a freelance career in public relations that allowed me the flexibility I needed as a mother and wife.
In some ways, this new role is very familiar. But in others, it feels quite foreign. I served as editor of The Bison during the 1998-1999 school year, just over 20 years ago. (That statement alone is enough to send me into a tailspin, because in my head, I’m still in my 20s.) My staff included a business manager, cartoonist, copy editor, photographer, photo opinions editor and sports editor. We printed nine times a semester — only once in color, and we still had to physically paste pages and use the sizing wheel to scale photos. The University was celebrating its 75th anniversary — which was commemorated with ASI Distinguished Lecture Series speaker Mikhail Gorbachev, so it felt like an important time.
Now, The Bison has a staff of 14, a wall full of awards from distinguished peers, and a lovely suite of offices in its proper home — the Reynolds Center, and shares its content online with audiences around the globe.
What has not changed are the students. As generations before them, the staff members with whom I am now privileged to work remain committed to seeking and telling the truth while treating students, faculty, staff, administration and the greater community of Searcy with respect.
Many people, myself included, are attracted to journalism because they love to hear and share people’s stories. Media outlets such as Humans of New York — which has 9.3 million followers on Instagram — thrive because we as readers feel that God-given need for connection. I have already witnessed my students wrestling with how to best capture stories so that their subjects believe they are an important part of the Harding community.
The career paths of the students who pass through this laboratory experience provided by Student Publications will vary greatly. But no matter what route they take, I pray they remember the kind of empathy that allows us to share in one another’s joys and sorrows while on this earth.