Her PROFspective: Thank You

Features Editor Jennifer McGraw says farewell to fellow graduating colleagues and two organizations that felt like home in her final edition of "Her PROFspective." - Photo via Pixabay.com

I’ve been putting off writing this over the last few weeks, but I know it has to get written eventually.

In about two short weeks, I will be graduating from Rowan University with my bachelor’s in public relations with a double minor in journalism and sports communication and media. 

Four years ago, I would’ve never thought this would be my degree. Even two years ago, I had a completely different plan for how my life would turn out.

I ended up choosing a degree in public relations because it felt like the second-best thing I’d be interested in. I loved to write and utilize social media in any aspect of my life, either work or personal. Once I started taking a few public relations courses, it emphasized my love for writing. A few months go by and I became more involved with The Whit, one of the only organizations I could fully be a part of since schooling was still fully virtual.

From there, my love of writing shifted to a particular focus on writing about sports. For the first article I wrote, I remember being so excited that it was going to be published in the pages. It was the first time I felt validated for something that I loved to do.

To put things in context, I’d been writing like a journalist for a few weeks and already felt valid. But when I was a part of musical theater for 10 years, I never felt that same feeling.

But what was really fun about that first article is the preparation that went into the article. I had to look up statistics and other facts about players so I could form a well-thought-out opinion.

It was at this moment that I wanted to be a sports journalist. My problem was that I spent three years of my college career and did not once have a clue as to what I wanted to do with my life. In the spring of my junior year, I felt so far behind. 

I think it’s also fair to say that the pandemic took away my junior year since I wasn’t able to be on campus. I’d happily stay longer, and I wish I would have chosen to stay longer, but I don’t think I can afford that.

Fast forward to the end of my training with Rowan Radio, I felt like I was getting somewhere and I knew I was heading in the right direction. I just wasn’t sure of myself yet. I worked all summer doing double shifts on Fridays from 11-3 at WGLS. I figured that would give me enough experience to try and “catch up” with some of the other students at the station.

Coming into the fall, I was able to be more involved since the school and community started to open up. It was so great to see Rowan technically for the first time. 

I kept my head down and got to work right away. I was coming off of a summer internship with the NFL Alumni Association where I learned that I wanted to work in social media, journalism or both. I became the features editor for The Whit. I was all around in a position that I knew I wanted to be in and I would make the most of my senior year.

However, life had some bumps in the road.

In early October, my mother got COVID-19. Because she was a high-risk patient, the virus hit her twice as hard. She was hospitalized for three or four weeks and the nurses barely provided my dad and me with updates.

I wish I could say all the horror stories and sad pictures would prepare you for a moment like this just in case, but it doesn’t.

I was in a constant state of anxiety, anger and confusion for those few weeks. Looking back, they feel like a blur, but the night that it was bad for my mom is something that still replays in my head.

Thankfully, I had the support of my family and close friends. I’ll always remember this, but the first group of people to reach out to me was the Rowan Radio sports department group chat. As weird as it sounds, I will never be more thankful to have the support of those we regularly banter about sports with. This just goes to show how much of a family atmosphere there is at Rowan Radio.

I never thought that The Whit or Rowan Radio would be just as supportive and that’s something I’m going to hang onto forever because that’s when you know it’s no longer just some club, it’s a family. 

Needless to say, after those weeks went by, my mom got better and came home and we were back on track. After that, I don’t know what motivated me to take my sports journalism goals to the next level, but I felt the need to just go for it.

Out of the two jobs and one internship I applied for, I only didn’t get the other job. The job and internship that I did get helped me solidify my skills and helped me branch out and actually work in the field.

It didn’t click that I actually felt like a sports journalist until late November when I found out I’d be interviewing former Philadelphia Eagles safety, Rodney McLeod, for the work he and his wife were doing for the Philadelphia community. I was given this opportunity just three weeks after I started working for my one job. 

That ended up being one of the best articles I’ve ever written, too.

The most important thing I want to bring up is the great friends I made in these two short years (who probably read the draft before it was published.) These people shaped me in some way or helped me when I needed it most. 

Whether we met over a shared liking of disowning a former Philadelphia 76ers point guard or a debate about whether or not ketchup belongs on home fries – which it does – I’m really thankful for the lifelong friendships I’ve made at Rowan.

If I were to leave any current or future Rowan student with any parting words, it would be that in all of my life, never have I ever felt more loved, validated and appreciated than I did when I was a part of The Whit and Rowan Radio. 

Even if you’re not a communications major, being a part of these organizations is worth more than gold.

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