Phylicia Barner-Lewis

Phylicia “Philly” Barner-Lewis is a journalism major emphasizing on strategic communication. While formerly a Mizzou fan, she fell in love with KU as soon as she took her first steps in Lawrence.

When I came to KU I wish I knew that my time here would be affected by a global pandemic. If I would’ve known, I definitely would not have laid in bed so much, maybe I could’ve gotten involved on campus more and I would have really taken the time to appreciate my surroundings.

Receiving a NSPA Pacemaker Award is my proudest achievement to date. My high school had never won the award of our newspaper before and within the two years of being on staff, we were finalists and then finally got it. I think about the award way more than I should and for quite some time a picture of the plaque was my lock screen.

My favorite memory at KU is almost breaking my foot out of excitement in Allen Fieldhouse. The year was 2018, we were playing Stanford, and were down by three points with almost seven seconds left in the game. Lagerald Vick hit a three-pointer to send us into overtime, and I jumped so hard that I came down onto my ankle weird. Luckily, we won the game and there was no injury on my end.

My most memorable J-School professor is without a doubt Kerry Benson. I was a senior in high school at a journalism convention in San Fransisco when I first met Benson. She terrified the life out of me but also made me laugh so hard that I was shaking in anticipation when I finally got the chance to sit in her J101 class.

My favorite J-School class has been J300: Visual Storytelling. I had prior knowledge of a lot of what was covered in the class, but Eric Thomas taught me more fundamental skills and what makes a good uniform design.

If I could give my freshman year self advice I would say “Please go to the rec and stop doing your homework in bed.” I spent so much in my twin bed that I probably broke some sort of world record. If it wasn’t time to eat, go to class or a game day, everyone knew where to find me.

I was in Newspaper for two years in high school and my advisor became my absolute favorite person ever. Alison Long really knows how to push someone to be their best self. I didn’t want to be on staff at first because it seemed like way too much work but all that hard work earned me a MSPA photo of the month and a Pacemaker Award.

I was raised by my grandparents and have become almost an exact copy of my grandmother. She became my legal guardian after the death of my mother in 2003 due to stomach cancer and my father was also ill with cancer. I couldn’t be more grateful for the life and the opportunities she has provided for me.

Almost every conversation my grandma and I have that is school related ends with her saying, “Do good, sweetie. I’m proud of you.” Hearing those words always makes me want to work harder and do better. I want her to know that she is putting her time, effort and money into a good investment.

Journalism professors are the best people you will ever get the chance to meet. They know everything, they empathize, and they will work with you. Every step of the way, the J-School is capable of provided the materials and information you need.


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