I found out today that I have been selected for the John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford. I am beyond thrilled. This fellowship will allow me to work with the outstanding journalists from around the world who make up the rest of the fellowship class. My goal is to work on a program to provide coding skills to journalists, so I intend to build upon my programming knowledge by taking additional computer science and design courses. At Stanford. I know. Unbelievable. It’s the place where Yahoo and Google were founded. In the heart of Silicon Valley, it’s in close proximity to the companies that have forever changed media, including Facebook, Twitter and, of course, Apple.
I have many people to thank for getting me here. I am forever indebted to the respected professionals who supported my applying for this program, including Aron Pilhofer of The New York Times, Evan Smith of Texas Tribune and Zach Ryall of the Austin American-Statesman. I am deeply grateful for the support of my program, particularly that of my director Judy Oskam. I received invaluable advice from Rosental Alves who leads the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at The University of Texas, as well as past Knight Fellows Burt Herman of Storify, Djordje Padejski, Nuno Vargas and Justin Ferrell. And, I received strong moral support from countless students, friends and family, as I relayed the process to them throughout the semester. I appreciate all the good vibes and pep talks from everyone!
I should describe the path that took me to this fellowship, because I think it is a good exercise in connecting the dots. I first became interested in applying for the Stanford Knight Fellowship when I met Dawn Garcia, the deputy director of the program, at the International Symposium in Online Journalism here in Austin in April 2012. Dawn introduced herself to me and said she followed me on Twitter. I was flattered that she had been paying attention to my work at Texas State and that kicked off our dialogue. I spoke to Dawn about the fellowship then and at the Online News Association conference last fall. Those discussions led me to submit my application earlier this year, which ultimately led to an interview visit to Stanford in March and today’s news! So for anyone who thinks that Twitter doesn’t have value or that conferences are a waste of time, let this be an example. The ISOJ event has been particularly beneficial in terms of fostering many of my most productive and enriching professional and personal relationships, and for that, I am additionally grateful to Rosental Alves and his team who put on the symposium each year.
I am very proud of my own accomplishments. But let’s face it, no one achieves anything on their own. We are all the result of the people who support, inspire, influence and motivate us. I am grateful to have so many wonderful people who have taken notice and expressed an interest in my work and goals.
I am appreciative beyond words to the people who run the Stanford Knight Fellowship, including Dawn Garcia, director Jim Bettinger, innovation director Pam Maples and all who were involved in the interview process. I am so excited for this opportunity to collaborate with other professionals in helping move the skill sets of journalists and journalism students forward to reflect the evolving needs of the field. I will miss my beloved Austin for the ten months that I will be away, but there will be visits throughout the year and constant online connection. And, I know I will return reinvigorated from all the new experiences.
I am so looking forward to beginning this adventure.