Grad School 2015: My First Letter
Below you will find the admissions letter I wrote for American University in D.C., I don’t know if I will be ultimately accepted, but I do feel the writing was worth sharing as it provides a certain insight into my mindset that I have towards my career going forth.
When it comes to the School of Communication at American University, there are many reasons one could list for deciding to study at the institution. For some, it’s a desire to hone and sharpen their talents that drives them to the school, for others, its family connections or a desire to be in a thriving metropolis that is bustling with important newsmakers and stories around each corner.
In my case, I decided to seek an MA in Journalism and Public Affairs with an International focus largely due to a book I read as a child. When I was 10 years old, I purchased a non-fiction novel by a British writer named David Loyn. In this captivating non-fiction story, Mr. Loyn told the story of Frontline Television. A consortium of freelance war journalists responsible for some of the most important television footage shown on CNN, ABC, NBC and other outlets in the 90’s and 00’s.
Peter Jouvenal, Vaughan Smith, Rory Peck. To my young self, these men were true heroes. Covering places like Afghanistan and Chechnya before anyone in North America could even find them on a map; they were out there making a difference. Helping those who needed it and exposing the misdeeds of terrible people that would go otherwise uncovered.
Though the organization eventually folded, the story of the wildly important work that they did stuck with me. By operating on their own and not embedding with a military or organization on the ground, Frontline was able to find the truth behind the polarizing issues of their day. All too often in our present, media outlets cloak reality in a murkiness that is designed to serve the interests of the corporations that have investments or control of them. After finishing the book, I decided that no matter how long it took, I was going to go forth in a similar field. With my resolve now shaped, I applied and went to W.S.U for 4 years in 2011. While there, I was lucky enough to participate in a variety of thing that honed my media skills.
In 2013, I journeyed to Nairobi, Kenya and spent a month directing a documentary short on a not-for-profit that conducts its business in the slums of the city. Being there with the best of humanity taught me that the stories of those who don’t often get attention on network or cable news are worth telling and also sharpened my skills in production and portraying ones narrative. Documenting the story of Sonko and seeing her view of life made me want to spend more time among people who are not from the West in order to see what they have to offer mankind.
After that adventure, I moved into writing for the school paper and hosting a popular radio talk show on the student ran network. Some days, I was writing about the U.S. Government and its shameful feet dragging on bringing Afghan contractors over to America. At other times, I would be interviewing former Scientologists and remnants of the Heaven’s Gate cult. In these moments, my writing skills and ability to find worthwhile stories on the fringes of our society were honed.
Though I did get a solid and well-rounded education at my first university, I never felt that the program focused enough on reporting. Towards the end, the primary emphasis was on television production and the difficulties associated with that. Though I did secure a job in the field after completing my Bachelor’s I find that I’ve grown restless since and spent more and more of my spare time writing for various websites and blogs all across the internet. It was that restless combined with my earlier mentioned childhood experience that made me want to go deeper into this field and seek an MA at AU.
Ultimately, if accepted I feel that I would bring a nicely well rounded skillset that would lend itself nicely to working with my fellow students in the program. If admitted, I really want to sharpen my writing and reporting skills and ideally use my degree to make a difference in the lives of marginalized people in marginalized places all across the world, ideally something akin to the brave men I mentioned earlier or the late great and tough as nails Marie Colvin. In my mind, the first priority of a reporter is to help people. Bringing truth to power and all else is secondary. Thank you for your consideration.