Jesuit Educated

Here I am, 12 days until graduation and 1 final exam between me and a B.A. When I flip my tassel from one side to the other, I’ll be closing the most formative chapter of my life thus far. It still hasn’t hit me. But honestly, maybe it’s because I am ready. I’m ready for the next chapter. I’m so unbelievably ready to pursue the passions that Creighton helped me discover.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sad to leave; but so prepared to set the world on fire after what my Creighton education has given me. These last couple of weeks have put me in a reflective mood, especially after reading Marina Keegan’s essay, The Opposite of Loneliness. I figured I’d share a few of the things Creighton has taught me over the last 4 years.

Life is not a competition.

As a freshman coming to Creighton, it’s easy to compare yourself to everyone else around you. You’re so used to being a big fish in a small pond, but you quickly find yourself surrounded with people just as driven, accomplished, and impressive as you are. You’re suddenly just another fish. Creighton taught me early on that part of being a Bluejay means setting the bar high and re10401981_976174852404007_6079158204688880020_naching it. It means surrounding yourself with people who urge you to do more. Being a Bluejay means being a part of a community that is personally invested in your success.

Creighton taught me that life is not a competition, that the world is small, and that as a senior, sitting back and watching the newest generation of Bluejays achieve their dreams is so fulfilling.

Family stretches far beyond blood.

Choosing to go to school 1,500 miles away from my family is seemingly easier than it sounds. This move across the country allowed me to gain a sense of incredible independence. I’ve been able to reflect on who I am, who I want to be, and what I believe, away from the community that built me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and I am grateful for the 18 years spent in Walla Walla, WA. But, the person I am proud to be today would not have been possible without leaving; and that is the best decision I have ever made for myself.

18010085_1462632870424867_4220833160126311402_nIt’s the biggest cliché in the book, but there is just something special about this community. They say it to you a million times during Summer Preview and Welcome Week, but by the end of 4 years I could scream it from the Old Gym roof. The people here are truly my family. Creighton provided me with mentors, with best friends, with sisters, with brothers, with confidants, with colleagues, and teammates. The people I choose to surround myself with on a daily basis push me to be my best self. They pick me up when I’m down, stand alongside me when I’m successful, and will be the people my kids someday call ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle.’

Everyone is someone. 

It wasn’t until I became the president of my sorority that I learned the true meaning of standing up for what I believe in, the true meaning of pursuing the best interests of the whole regardless of my own personal desires, and the true meaning of grace, support, and love of all human beings.

Growing up in my hometown, I didn’t have much experience with people different than me. I didn’t understand other perspectives and I didn’t necessarily think I needed to. Boy, was I wrong. Creighton taught me that everyone has a story, that everyone is someone, that everyone is worthy and beautiful and loved. No matter your race, national origin, religion, disability, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, or economic status, people are people. 

Creighton taught me to appreciate cultural differences and commonalities, and gave me the ability to interact with sensitivity and alertness as a citizen of the world.

Great leaders know when to ask for help.

I will never be able to repay this university for providing me with countless leadership opportunities to expand my horizons. The opportunity to engage in demanding roles a13002534_1121410214547136_6287376906555440924_ollowed me to create lasting connections on a campus where no one is a stranger, supplement my learning with practical experience and work to cultivate a positive student experience for every Bluejay.

These opportunities challenged me to my wits end, but allowed me to grow in ways I never thought possible. I’ve learned that great leaders influence, motivate, inspire, and help others realize their potential. One compliment or positive remark can have the biggest impact on other people. Creighton taught me to empower others, but also how to empower myself. Creighton taught me how to stand back up after continuously getting knocked down. But most importantly, Creighton taught me to ask for help when I need it. Good leaders are self-aware and know their limitations. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of strength and humility. 

God is present in the little moments. 

The way in which the Jesuit values have integrated themselves into every aspect of my life is incredible.

  • Magis: Literally translated “more.” This is the challenge to strive for excellence.
  • Women & Men for and with Others: Sharing gifts, pursuing justice, and having concern for the poor and marginalized.
  • Cura Personalis: “Care for the individual person.” Respecting each person as a child of God and all of God’s creations.
  • Unity of Heart, Mind, & Soul: Developing the whole person. Integrating all aspects of our lives.
  • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (AMDG): “For the Greater Glory of God.”
  • Forming & Educating Agents of Change: Teaching behaviors that reflect critical thought and responsible action on moral and ethical issues.
  • Finding God in all Things: To search for and find God in every circumstance in life, not just in explicitly religious situations.
  • Reflection and Discernment: To reflect on our own lived experience of the world. To discern the movements of our heart and reason.

Not only have these values transformed my life, but so has the very core of a liberal arts education. Creighton taught me the importance of being a lifelong learner, of asking critical questions, and of pursuing your curiosity. Creighton taught me to live in the moment, to be thankful for your experiences, and to see the good in everything.

Believe in yourself, listen to your gut, and do what you love.

Creighton showed me that you don’t have to be a doctor or a lawyer to be successful. You don’t have to have a 4.0 GPA to impact the lives of others. If you spend your time pursuing what you’re passionate about, you’re spending your time well. I found my passion when I least expected it, when I wasn’t looking for it. 

My passion fell into my lap when I realized that the work I was doing in student life could correlate to a job someday. It was when Creighton pushed me to become that over-committed student leader juggling academics, leadership positions, jobs, a social life, and internships that I realized my creativity and innovative way of thinking could serve me in an entirely new area that I had never considered: student affairs, which I will pursue an M.A. in after my time at Creighton.

Listen to your gut when it tells you to change your plans. Believe in yourself that you have what it takes. Passionately pursue what gets you out of bed every morning.

____________

Throughout my time in college, I have grown into someone who is mature and level headed, encouraging and motivated, fearless, confident, and selfless. Being able to stand tall in the face of adversity, speak publicly without faze, keep a smile on my face, and maintain a high level of energy when I’m spread too thin are all things Creighton pushed me to do.

But more importantly, Creighton has lit a fire in my soul for social justice, to be of service to others, to find God in the small things, to use my privilege for good, and to always strive for more. 4 years ago I had no idea what a Jesuit even was, but they have absolutely “ruined” me and I could not be more thankful.

Because to me, Creighton has been both my greatest struggle and quickest source of comfort. It a place – a memory, an experience, a story – that I will forever call home.

Cheers to the Class of 2017!

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JRMourning the End

It’s been quite the semester. Scratch that. It’s been quite the 4 years in the Journalism, Media & Computing Department.

“We’ve explored — really just touched the tip — of entrepreneurial media and some of the ins and outs of being an entrepreneur. We heard from entrepreneur Bryant Ott. You survived the elevator pitch. You developed your own ideas for a new product/company.”

-Dr. Carol Zuegner

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#JMCAwesome Seniors

My biggest blessing from this Entrepreneurial Media class, and honestly the last 4 years in this department, is the connections. The wonderful people pictured to the left are going places. I feel so lucky to have studied, succeeded, failed, laughed and struggled with them throughout this crazy thing they call college. The people that make up the this department have become family.

Not only have I built lasting connections with the students and faculty, but this class taught me how to make connections with strangers. The ability to break the ice and start a conversation with a random person is something I’ve always prided myself on. However, when our class took a trip to the Bailey Lauerman networking event, I got to put that skill into practice. I met a several professionals who I eventually connected with on LinkedIn, which will serve me well if I ever decide to enter the field. (Currently I plan on pursuing a degree and career in Student Affairs).  

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SocialAbroad Executive Team

Another huge takeaway from this class revolves around an anticipation for the future. I’m grateful that Creighton provides it’s students with an ever-changing curriculum that meets the needs of today’s journalistic society. The future of journalism and mass media is unknown. Therefore, taking a class that quite literally teaches you how to start from the ground up is so important. Stretching my creative capacity and coming up with an idea to pursue further as a business is something that will serve me well; many journalists will have to do this in the future to stay relevant.

The final takeaway from JRM599 and quite possibly my favorite aspect of the class is an ability to present an idea creatively and professionally. Above is a picture of my team after our final business plan presentation for our app, SocialAbroad. While I didn’t enjoy it at the time, doing an elevator pitch taught me how to consolidate information in an engaging way and speak from my brain instead of a notecard. Preparing the final plan allowed me to think of creative ways to engage the audience. The skills I learned that relate to public speaking will be absolutely invaluable in my future career.

I can’t believe I am done with all required classes for my journalism major. Not walking into Hitchcock 204 or 205 everyday will be an adjustment. I absolutely cannot imagine my Creighton experience if I had chosen something different. Thank you Carol and the rest of the JMC faculty for teaching me marketable skills across so many fields. Your guidance and leadership over the last 4 years has been so inspiring. 

(Elevator) Pitch Perfect

The concept of an “elevator pitch” is really intriguing to me. I’m definitely that annoying girl on the elevator who strikes up a conversation with everyone instead of staring blankly at the floor. I like breaking social norms and practicing small talk with strangers with a limited amount of time is always beneficial.

When we were assigned the elevator pitch assignment for my senior capstone in journalism, I was entirely too excited. My unpopular opinion and energy for the assignment was opposite of the general reaction in the room. I don’t mind public speaking. In fact, I like to be in the front of the room taking charge of the scenario.

In order to prepare for my elevator pitch for SocialAbroad, I spent a great deal of time looking over the market analysis that my group and I put together a few weeks prior. In researching other industry participants, I was able to put together a pitch that drew on strengths that set SocialAbroad apart from apps like Trip Advisor, Air Bnb, Hostel World, and Tinder.

Developing the pitch didn’t take me long, and after practicing the pitch for an hour in my parked car (because I couldn’t find another place on campus that was private), I was feeling confident. I knew which words to emphasize more with my tone, which words to use a hand motion on, and so forth. However, when it came time to actually deliver the pitch my mind went blank.

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JRM599 after surviving Elevator Pitch Day

After practicing for hours and not feeling any nerves prior to 4pm on Wednesday, all of a sudden I froze and started speaking on a tangent. I didn’t say half of the things I wanted to and I was not as dynamic in my delivery as I had hoped. But I got through it. I survived. Here is the photo evidence that the entire class survived.

I really enjoyed listening to other people’s pitches. The ones that stood out the most were the ones with enthusiasm. It’s hard to sell a product that you’re not excited about yourself. The content in all of the pitches was great; almost everyone used statistics and data.

The pitches that came off in a more casual, conversational tone also resonated with me the most. The concept of an elevator pitch is that you are just telling someone in a short period of time who you are and what you’re all about. It shouldn’t be just a grandiose thing.

I learned a lot from the experience. Thinking on your feet is probably the most important. When I blanked on my pitch, it was important for me to be able to actually think about what I was trying to say, instead of just rambling from memory. It is also important to get excited about your product and really take charge of the room. In demanding that attention, you are demanding investment in your product.

Passion: Plan, Project, Profit

I love talking about passions. I could talk about passions all day with people. The twinkle in their eye, the beams illuminating from their face, the energy in their voice gives me life. When someone is passionate, they light up a room and I love seeing that quality in people.

Last week, Bryant Ott from the White and Blue Review came to talk to our entrepreneurial media class about his passion project.

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Homepage of the White and Blue Review

Ott immediately started the conversation stating, “I’m a total Creighton nerd.” He grew up going to all of the basketball games with his dad and spent much of his time in college with his buddies at different games and matches. Creighton sports encompasses Ott’s passion, I could tell by the way his face lit up when speaking about it.

When Ott graduated from Creighton he began writing a blog with creative content and reviews of the basketball games. He sent it out to his friends that left Omaha to pursue other jobs. What started as a way to stay connected and stay busy during his job hunt, turned into something much bigger.

 

Being an entrepreneur involves agile development. This is basically continuous development and the ability to shift focus and attack a new opportunity. The White and Blue Review started as a blog about Creighton basketball and has since expanded to all Creighton sports. Ott saw the opportunity and took a chance. 

Every start-up is different but what I like about this one is that the sole purpose is not to make tons and tons of money. Ott never expected this to be something that was profitable. All of the founding members have other jobs and just do this on the side because they enjoy it.

I was also intrigued by the wide variety of people in involved in the start-up from writers, to lawyers, to accountants, etc. If you’re passionate about something and you have an idea, there’s a spot for you.

Plan B, C, D, and E.

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

-John Lennon

I always thought I had a plan coming into college. I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, recent high school graduate with the world as her oyster.  Big dreams, big hair, and big plans defined my life and I was busy planning every aspect of what the future would hold. Confident52003212_cdaed75ca3_m in my plan, I had a very clear direction for my life and nothing or no one would stand in the way.

I would have never guessed in a million years that I would be where I am today. I didn’t plan for this. I didn’t plan to fall in love with the profession I did. I didn’t plan to become who I am so proud to be today.

Things ebb and flow in business plans just as they do in life. Involving yourself in the entrepreneurial world is just asking for a series of changed plans, and that’s not a bad thing.

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

-Mike Tyson

In a May 2013 article from the Harvard Business Review, Steve Blank discusses three things he learned after watching decades of start-ups follow a typical business model.

  1. Business plans rarely survive first contact with customers.
  2. Dreaming up five year plans is almost always a waste of time.
  3. Start-ups that ultimately succeed go quickly from failure to failure, all the while adapting, iterating on, and improving their initial ideas.

This absolutely resonates with me. It is a waste of time dreaming up detailed plans for the future before receiving feedback from customers. Like I said, plans change and it is absolutely imperative that an entrepreneur is okay with that or else the business will not survive.

The lean method Blank discusses makes sense. A business model canvas seems much more intuitive and beneficial for today’s changing media landscape and that to me, is exciting.

Niche News

Niche news outlets are becoming the latest trendy thing. Sites like the Seattle Transit Blog create an channel of local news on niche topics that readers are interested in. Blogs like this are designed to “fill a void in the community.” There is an entire list of them here from Michele McClellan of the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

The thing about localized news is that if it’s not relevant to you, that’s that. I looked through Michele’s list for a long time trying to find a site that peaked my interest but I’m not a Brooklyn parent, a New Jersey foodie, or a Texas wine lover. So, I immediately began filtering through sites that could be relevant to my life. As a native of Washington, the Seattle Transit Blog was calling my name.

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The content of the blog hits nearly 50,000 people each month. With a “well-educated, engaged audience consisting of well-informed Seattle-area citizens, transit riders & enthusiasts, as well as many government officials and local media,” this blog delivers new content daily. Even on the weekends.

“It is a must-read for anyone who cares about living, working, and getting around in the Puget Sound.” -STB

Seattle Transit Blog even has a community page called “Page 2” open to anyone who has something to say about transit or urban issues. Members of the community generally post once a week. This creates a public forum where comments are encouraged.

The design of the blog is professional. All writing, photography, and video is presented in a way that is pleasing to the eye. STB is a non-profit organization with a very small paid staff. Most contributors are volunteers from all walks of life, occupations, and perspectives. It is evident that the people writing and reading this site are incredibly passionate.

The site generates revenue from donations as well as advertising and sponsorships. They
offer advertising for $200/week or $40/day. Clearly-labeled sponsored posts run in their feed however limited to once screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-10-34-47-pmper week for $300. Since STB prides itself on serving the greater community, discounts are given to advertisers of political campaigns and local activism issues. Perfect for the average Seattleite, if you ask me. 

The founders of STB found a pain-point in the community and created a local solution. This is the future of modern news.

 

 

 

 

Weapons of Mass Disruption

Just as earthly landscapes change with time, so does the media landscape. I recently read a blog post by Carlo De Marchis discussing “disruptions” to the media landscape.

You can read the post here.

It’s 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night and I’m surrounded by three digital signs on the walls, two small device screens sitting on the table, and one laptop screen in front of me. Marchis would say that all of these media outlets are a “disruption.”

“There are 3 disruptions that are crucial for the future of media: the disruption of media consumption, the disruption of media communication, and the disruption of media production.”

-Carlo De Marchis

2913493592_52560201ff_zUsing the word “disruption” to describe the changing landscape of media doesn’t sit well in my stomach. I would consider this an opportunity. I’ve always been more of a glass-half-full kind of girl, and this creates no exception. With changes in the way we consume, communicate, and produce media comes infinite opportunity to think creatively and entrepreneurially.

Now don’t get me wrong, Marchis doesn’t spend his entire post down in the dumps about the media landscape, he calls us to action. He calls us to “look for the next transient competitive advantage.” He calls us to think about the idea of entrepreneurial journalism. I encourage you to read this book by Mark Briggs to gain more insight into the topic.

Personally, I think journalism is already entrepreneurial. It has been that way for decades. The current landscape wouldn’t be as colorful as it is without ground-breaking ideas. Journalists in today’s society have to wear many hats in order to stay relevant. They have to communicate their story in such a way that it holds our attention. But, what works today might not 6 months from now. I mean just think about how journalism has changed just in the last 5 years!

The entire idea of a constantly changing landscape excites me. As one of those annoying people who can’t stay focused on the same thing or sit still in a chair for extended periods of time, a field of expertise that requires constant creative thinking and different challenges everyday excites me.

But will my journalism degree be worth anything 10 years from now? Will my innovative thoughts be worth any money? The future of the media landscape is so unknown and that scares me, but that’s what makes is so beautiful when it comes to fruition.

 

Good Bye Social Media, But Not Really

“It’s been quite the semester. We’ve talked personal branding, content-marketing, analytics and social media policy. We’ve had two field trips, guest speakers and pie. We have talked about the good, the bad and the ugly of social media with success stories and public shaming. We’ve tweeted, LinkedIn, Google+’ ed. We sometimes check our Klout scores. We got a chance to learn more about The Union for Contemporary Art.”

– Dr. Carol Zuegner

My biggest take away from this semester is how to be an impactful presence online. I’ve learned the importance of my personal brand and engaging in conversations. After all, social media is social right? I’ve created a habit of checking my Klout score daily and even entered into a little friendly competition with others. I have a huge anticipation for the future. There’s so much to look forward to in the years to come with journalism. There is so much room for growth, change, and new ideas. Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.19.48 PM

As a result from this class, I view social media in a completely different light. I’m guilty of thinking that anyone over the age of 40 shouldn’t be on social media. Now I understand that some of the most meaningful presences online come from older generations. The online media of today is changing the face of journalism and that’s exciting. I loved this class. I am so blessed to be studying in a field where my homework is to create an account on LinkedIn or post of Google+, or Tweet a few more times a week than usual.

Social media is a platform that constantly changes. I am changing too. The fate of journalism is unknown; the future is coming. I’m confident that the Journalism, Media, and Computing Department at Creighton will continue to prepare it’s students for what lies ahead.

Not Your Typical Elementary Map Test

In 5th grade I was given a map of the United States and told to memorize each state’s location, capital, and spelling. Two weeks later I was supposed to be able to fill in a blank one on my own. In 8th grade I was given a map of the world and told to memorize each country’s location, capital, and spelling. Two months later I was supposed to be able to fill in a blank one on my own. Moral of the story: I passed both with flying colors, but these maps are slightly different than the maps 20 year old me is dealing with now.

According to the Pew Research Center, “Like topographic maps of mountain ranges, network maps can also illustrate the points on the landscape that have the highest elevation.” Much of the social media world remains unmapped as of now. By charting conversations especially with services like Twitter, we can gin insight into the role social media plays in our society. “A more complete map and understanding of the social media landscape will help interpret the trends, topics, and implications of these new communications technologies.”

There are 6 different archetypes of network crowds that have been mapped. One of them is the polarized crowd. By definition this network consists of 2 big groups with little connection. I think the best example of this can be seen every election season between partisan groups. Twitter has become grounds for much campaigning but those who tend to vote blue over red or visa versa usually keep the ball in their respective courts when discussing national political issues. Today Hillary Clinton announced her official candidacy in the 2016 presidential race. I saw overwhelming support for her on all of my accounts however, I know that plenty of the people I follow do not support her. There is definitely a divide when it comes to political news like today’s and a polarized crowd emerges.

Polarized crowd photo courtesy of the Pew Research Center.

Polarized crowd photo courtesy of the Pew Research Center.

Another example of a mapped network is a tight crowd. Highly interconnected people constitute this archetype. The most recent Twitter thread I can remember exemplifying this is the NACA 2015 conference in Minneapolis, MN. For the 5 days I was in attendance, the conversations were off the charts in their interconnectedness. According to Pew Research, “These structures show how networked learning communities function and how sharing and mutual support can be facilitated by social media.” It was almost as if using the hashtag #naca15 unlocked the door to an entirely new community.

The broadcast network is commentary surrounding breaking news as it unfolds. I am a member in this web every Jays basketball game. There’s play by play tweets, commentary on bad calls, exciting plays, score updates, and Bluejay roll call around the country. The great thing about the Bluejay broadcast group is that everyone seems to get in conversation with one another regarding the news at hand.

The largest group of people falling into the brand cluster map are high school/college aged girls who drink Starbucks. According to Pew Research, “Well-known brands and other popular subjects can attract large fragmented Twitter populations who tweet about it but not to each other.” I’d even go farther to say that Instagram is the biggest medium of Starbucks related posts. The fact of the matter is, girls aren’t posting pictures of their coffee cups to get into conversation. They are doing it to get likes, favorites, retweets, or jealous friends who are upset they weren’t invited.

It’s so interesting to think about the complexity of these maps in retrospect to the material I was studying in middle school. The world is changing; are we able to keep up?

There’s No Right Answer

I wish there was something society could do. Public shaming is certainly an issue and one that has only been magnified in the last decade due to the birth of social media. Monica Lewinsky perfectly articulated her horrifying experience with the issue in her recent Ted talk.

Monica talks a lot about society needing to become more compassionate in terms of social media. I agree with her however, I don’t foresee that happening in the near future. Maybe this is just my inner pessimist shining through but I think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. It’s a sad reality.

Monica Lewinsky isn’t the only figure to be publicly humiliated. While her case happened in 1998 before social media was a thing, it laid the groundwork for future cases. It’s terrifying to think that something stupid myself or one of my friends does at this age can so quickly be turned against us publicly and out of context. Young adults have been doing stupid things since the beginning of time, but now for the first time those actions are being placed at the center stage.

Justine Sacco is the modern day Lewinsky in a sense. Her tweet, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white” went viral while she was flying to South Africa. While this doesn’t settle well in my stomach, and while I think Monica Lewinsky probably shouldn’t have fallen in love with her boss, I do think that we need to protect the person using their right of expression just as much as we are protecting the backlashers using theirs.

When Justine Sacco finally turned on her phone, she was bombarded by tweets from everyone who’d seen her post. Read this NY Times article for more information on how one tweet completely ruined her life. People make mistakes. It’s a shame that these instances are happening more often than not on such a public platform like social media. Literally anyone in the world can see, judge, and comment without knowing the context or the author personally. Bullying is easier than ever today because of social media, which means that more and more of it is happening.

It’s fine and dandy for me to sit here and say “social media needs to become a more compassionate place.” The fact of the matter is, this issue is not going to go away unless someone decided to step up and do something about it. In the mean time, everyone can do their part and stop clicking so frequently on these stories that have no worth.