Even back in high school in Whiteville, NC, Valerie Edwards had her eye on the news. She paid attention to newspapers, to the local news, to the news magazines that gave her a window to the wider world, to the national news that morphed into the 24/7 institution it is today.
Valerie’s curiosity has paid off, because now, after four years at ECSU, she’s headed to one of the pre-eminent schools of journalism in all the world--- The Columbia School of Journalism, in New York City. She’ll pursue a Masters of Science degree there.
Valerie credits much of this new opportunity to two professors at ECSU, her Honors advisor Dr. Velma Blackmon and Professor Kip Branch, her advisor on several school publications.
“Dr. Blackmon always pushed me---in a good way--- to think graduate school. And I guess she saw something in me, so that she encouraged me to aim high, to really take a chance. Dr. Branch taught me how to improve my basic skills of writing and journalism from features to editing others and myself. He was the one who pushed me to apply to Columbia.”
When asked about what ECSU has meant to her, Valerie was effusive.
“The thing that made ECSU so great for me was that I got a whole education, one that pushed me to learn but that did it in a way that was right for me. My professors knew me by name and really got to know me. And I was encouraged to try things outside my usual frame of concentration. In my case, I’ve always been interested in verbal things, and I sort of always knew that I’d be doing something in that direction, but I also needed to broaden my experience. I was able to do that at ECSU in ways that no other school offered. In fact, I am a double major in Mass Communications and Aviation Science and I’m licensed to fly a Cessna 150. Imagine doing that at any other school!”
“Importantly, ECSU’s relatively small size allowed me to test my limits and skills in a range of endeavors. I wrote several news flashes for the Department of Energy, was editor of the school’s paper, The Compass, anchored the news desk for the campus TV station and managed programming at the campus NPR affiliate, acted in several plays ---even a musical or two--- stepped at events like the CIAA and participated in a few social clubs, too. At a larger place, I’m not sure I’d have had all those opportunities.”
“In short, I came away from ECSU ready for the world, with lots more to take with me than I brought with me to school. And I thank ECSU for that.”
Favorite Place on Campus: WRVS 89.9 Radio Station
Professors who influenced you the most: Professor Kip Branch and Dr. Velma Blackmon
Advice for other students: Three things: 1) Be the best in everything you do and always know that someone is watching. Someone will notice and guide you in the right direction. I know this happened for me; my professors saw the greatness in me and pushed me harder than I have ever been pushed before; 2) Have a mentor; my mentors have played very important roles in my success thus far, and 3) Last, but not least, never take “No” for an answer. There comes a time in everyone’s life when they are told “no,” but that should not necessarily stop you. “Work smart, not hard.”