Our Opinion: Bits and Pieces

Chart Staff Editorial

Change is in the air.

From students going back to school, to the start of fall activities, life is changing.

For me, this season of life has some changes, as I start a new venture.

Last week, I stepped into the world of academia to become the adviser of The Chart at Missouri Southern State University.

The Chart, the student newspaper at Missouri Southern, is near and dear to my heart.

Twenty-eight (gasp) years ago last week, I walked onto the campus of Missouri Southern as a freshman.

At that time, I was given two pieces of advice from a wise and trusted friend, Sid Robbins.

Robbins directed me to a) go meet Roger Nichols and check out the Wesley Foundation, because it would give me a “church home” on campus, and b) go meet Chad Stebbins, the adviser of The Chart, since I wanted to be a journalist.

I took his advice. I met both men during the first two weeks of school. Both would go on to make a profound impact on my life which continues even to this day.

Nichols would build on the foundation of my youth, and encourage me to pursue a degree at Asbury Theological Seminary. Because of his nudge, I nurtured and developed a desire to write for the church.

It was his encouragement, which led me to pursue a graduate degree. Going to Asbury not only gave me an educational foundation, but it also gave me a large “tribe” of friends around the world.

It also helped me to discover my passion for working with children and youth, and allowed me to write for numerous faith-based publications.

Stebbins eventually became both my professor and adviser.

His mentorship not only nurtured my love of writing, it also gave me the tools I would use as a journalist – at The Chart, at various community newspapers, and even today, as I edit The Grove Sun and Delaware County Journal.

From the moment I walked in the door of Hearns Hall (the office used to be in two rooms on the bottom floor of that building), and then later Webster Hall, I found a place I would call home.

I began my career there as a staff writer. By Christmas of 1990, I was a page editor, and by the time I graduated in 1994, editor-in-chief.

Working at The Chart nurtured within me a passion for community journalism.

I’ve often said “everyone has a story, you just have to ask the right question to find it.”

To me, that’s the basis of this form of journalism. Telling the stories of people who make up the basic fiber of the community.

It’s that love of storytelling – along with much prodding by Stebbins and Ward Bryant, a former professor turned department head – which led to me to accept the role as Chart adviser.

It sounds crazy, to add another responsibility to my already full plate, but I did so after much prayer and consideration.

I have a peace about the decision. A peace which only comes when one steps out in faith.

My goal in this position is to help nurture a love of storytelling and photography within the next generation of journalists.

I hope to encourage my students and give them the tools – much like Stebbins and Bryant gave me – to launch them into a future career.

Oh, they may not choose to become a full-time journalist; but anything they learn about writing and deadlines can – and will – be a foundation for their future career.

So once a week, I’ll venture to Joplin, to work with the students, and let’s face it, get my Starbucks and Chick-fil-a fix.

Don’t worry, I’ll still be around. I’m not giving up my “day job.” I’ll still be the editor of both papers.

Who knows, you may soon see some of my students writing within the pages of this paper. There’s already several “cross over” opportunities to explore.

Life has a way of changing, even for those of us who hate change.

But sometimes, we’re led to say yes – which ultimately leads to amazing things.