I was a bit nervous, and had dreamed the night before that I fell asleep during my presentation.
But once I got rolling, all was good and my presentation on feature writing to a group of 120 fourth graders at Davis Elementary in Grinnell on Monday, April 17 went off without a hitch. And I made it through without falling asleep at the wheel.
The presentation came about after I wrote an article in this publication on a food drive that a group of third and fourth graders at Davis held earlier this year. The students set a goal to collect 500 food items and ended up collecting more than 1,800 food items.
That’s news worth printing!
One of the teachers at Davis, April Gosselink-Lemke, reached out to me to ask if I might be interested in talking with the students about feature writing.
Original plans were to do it by zoom, but being a people person, I offered to come to the school and share in person.
Debbie put together a power point to make my presentation go smoother. I typically talk off the cuff, so having a power point helped keep me on track during the 30-minute presentation.
A number of students asked me questions or made general comments. Some said they knew me from the Poweshiek County Fair. One young fellow asked if his 102-year-old great-grandfather would make a great feature story.
“That would be a great feature,” I told the young man.
I’ve worked with young people and 4-H’ers for years helping them improve their photography skills, but to be able to share what I know and have learned about writing features was like icing on cake. It’s also a testament to the goodness of God.
I’ve mentioned in the past in this column that I barley passed high school English. For me to return to college in my early 30s and attend and graduate from one of the top journalism programs in the world at the University of Missouri-Columbia is a miracle.
It took me three tries to pass the 100-question grammar test. I had to score 80 or better to pass. Thanks to hours of tutoring, studying and believing in myself, I passed with an 82, and on my 36th birthday.
I did not have the grades to get into journalism school. I needed at least a 3.0 GPA and I had a 2.5 GPA
So, I wrote a letter to the School of Journalism Dean, pleading my case. I shared how I was a returning non-traditional student and that I was working my way through college. At the time, I was working nights as a custodian on the MU campus.
I asked an advisor in the Ag Journalism program at MU to help me with my letter. I didn’t have a lap top, so I would walk to one of the computer labs, sign in and work on my letter. After printing out a copy, I checked out and then walked back to the ag school to talk about my letter with the advisor.
This went on several times before finalizing the letter, which I hand delivered to the School of Journalism Dean’s Office.
A few days later, I received a phone call that I had been accepted into the journalism school. What an open door of opportunity.
Prior to journalism school, I was required to take extensive writing course in the History of American Journalism, which was a challenge in itself. I was also required to complete a news writing course, which I did in the summer of 1995. I was so nervous at the start of the course, but I kept going and didn’t give up. I was required to get a “C” in the course. I believe I received a “B-.”
I was told early on that if you get a “C” in journalism school, you were doing great. I actually did a little better than that.
I’m looking forward to more opportunities to share my God-given talents to encourage and help others, both young and old.
No matter your background, your experiences, who your family is, how much money you have, what others think and a host of other roadblocks, if you believe, apply yourself, don’t give up, anything is possible.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.