Use your voice and push past boundaries
Alanna Evans is a freshman from Fountain, Colorado. She is studying strategic communications at the University of Kansas. Evans, 19, serves as the secretary of the KU Freshman Action Team and is a member of the Journalism Student Leadership Board.
I’m in the early stages of my major, but I love it. I like the visual arts: graphic design, videography, photography — all of that. I figured I’d combine all of my interests and skills and put them into advertising. They say to find a job that you love, and I love being creative, so it was a natural fit for me.
I love photography, so I would also like to try photojournalism. In high school, I was on the yearbook committee and took multiple photography classes. That’s where I found my love for it.
At KU, I’ve been able to become my own person. It was a fresh start because I didn’t know anyone when I came to KU.
The Freshman Action Team is under the Black Student Union (BSU), but we do our own thing. I’m the secretary. So we get to learn for ourselves how to do something like run an event by finding speakers, renting a room at the Union, and finding sponsors. We are an inclusive organization, so anyone can join.
Being elected secretary of Freshman Action Team taught me that I am capable of doing anything I put my mind to. I doubted myself throughout the entire election process, so being chosen gave me just the right amount of confidence to go out and achieve anything.
BSU is a part of the Big 12 Black Student Government conference. Different organizations come together each year to talk about what everyone is accomplishing on campuses and how we can help one another. BSU held interviews in order to select who could go to this conference, and I was selected to attend. That was a big accomplishment for me. One of the workshops I attended was “How to be Black in Corporate America,” where they gave us advice on how to be a minority in white-majority areas. They had a career fair. They had six or seven black speakers, writers, and activists who came to share with us. It was extremely inspirational.
My favorite part about being in the J-School is being able to have a voice.
As a member of the Journalism Student Leadership Board, I feel like I have a say in what goes on around campus. Being a member of the diversity committee has helped me to see that the J-School does care and it does want to see what can be done to cater to people like me.
The best advice I have received is, "Always stay gracious; best revenge is your paper.” It’s a line from the song “Formation” by Beyoncé. The way I interpret it is, if you stay focused and stay true to yourself — not worried about anyone trying to stop you or put you down — good things will come to you, which is always the best revenge.
Cody Schmitz is a writer and painter from Concordia, Kansas. He is an honors student who will graduate in 2017 with degrees in journalism and Spanish. He plans to move to New York after graduation to pursue a writing career.