Friday, January 7, 2011

About My Diploma...a repost in response to an article from the Village Voice.

(Previously titled: About that Diploma and the Media in Which It's Printed,
by Valerie Williams-Sanchez on Sunday, August 15, 2010 at 8:40pm)

Whew, thanks! I needed to read the Village Voice article: Columbia Journalism School Is Worth Time and Money Even Though It Won't Make You Rich; There, I Said It, (

Yes, classes began anew for J-school initiates yesterday, a realization that took me back some 17 years to my first days at the school.
Since that time, my so-called "journalism career" hasn't emerged into even an abstract impressionist version of what I envisioned back then, seated, raptly listening to stalwarts of the journalism industry in the World Room.
Newsroom cut-backs, lay-offs, the internet and well, life, have complicated things for me in ways I never could have dreamed or anticipated. But also over the same decade-and-a-half, there have been other lessons, key learnings, and hope.
Probably the biggest coup my degree has enabled in recent years, though, was paying-off all the debt associated with the Master of Science degree, by myself.
My parents didn't pay for it. My now ex-husband didn't pay for it — not even by way of any sort of alimony payment from my divorce. Neither was I, or am I currently, independently wealthy. I didn't have a trust fund to pick up the tab (though, had I, I would not have been adverse to using it).
Financial aid may have provided the up front money, but I have repaid that debt and its accompanying interest, in full.
The seemingly Sisyphean effort it took taught me a host of life lessons and called on many if not all of my reporter's skills. It also provided another layer of resonance to a former professor's most quotable quotes. Professor David Krajicek frequently told us during our RW1 meetings: "If you can do print, you can do anything."
Surprisingly, it is this financial lesson and accomplishment that was for me one of the program's most grueling. But in learning and mastering it, I, a print journalist, have developed a new found respect for the craft and one particular piece of printed media, my diploma.


(c) 2011 Valerie Williams-Sanchez

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