The Call To Be A Free Spirit

Devont'e Kurt Watson and Al Nueharth, Founder of USA Today and the Freedom Forum

Albuquerque — Imagine living the busy life of a journalist such as covering events, attending press conferences, and reporting from the heart of our nation’s capital. High school seniors from across the country have the opportunity to experience this lifestyle. For aspiring writers of the art, the Al Nueharth Free Spirit Program provides an ample opportunity to provide aspiring communicators with training that will compliment, enhance, and institute the necessary qualities of an industrialized journalist. By demonstrating communications of print, television, and/or radio broadcasting, high school seniors may apply for this national award.

Beginning in 1999, the Free Spirit Program was founded in honor of Al Nueharth, founder of USA Today, Newseum, and the Freedom Forum. Widely, this program has impacted the lives of over 1,000 and continues to inspire young communicators across the country to peruse their dreams.

As an alumnus of the Al Nueharth Free Spirit Program, I had the opportunity to join a network of students and professional communicators from across the country. In Washington D.C., 51 students, representing each state, explored the nation’s capital through the lenses of the “Fourth Estate.” This conference undoubtedly embarked a curiosity and mindset to investigate my career in communications.

In spring 2012, I was accepted as a Free Spirit Scholar and attended the Al Nueharth Free Spirit Conference in July 2011. I had the unparalleled opportunity to learn exactly what it is to be a news reporter, experientially. Through a rigorous week of learning modern journalism and preparation for a potential career, this week was equivalent to a college semester of journalism; I lived the meaning of a communicator. A template of one day would include some events such as waking up early to go to a live Meet the Press recording, driving up to Capitol Hill to meet with policy-makers and explore the back walls of the House and Senate Chambers where the press reside on the Hill; head to the White House and meet press officials, and go to Court of Appeals Circuit 13 to simulate a court case.

Included in this conference was the ability to learn about the First Amendment of the United States. As activists and communicators, it is imperative that we know just exactly what our rights are regarding our right to expression. Dr. Charles Overby, CEO of the Freedom Forum, described how expression can lead to positive consequences. He addressed the conference and said that student activism can afford communities equality; however, knowledge of the First Amendment is the only allowance afforded to the American Society regarding open democracy.

Through this exciting week of learning forms of communications and having ample exposure to becoming a better journalist, I feel sponsored to continue my work in communications. I was reminded about the gamble it is to accept a hectic and exciting lifestyle of a journalist when Al Nueharth placed the Free Spirit Award Medal my collar. Al Nueharth is a legend who has successfully committed and mastered adversity through communications as a career. He is the definition of dreaming big amid sacrificing a lot in order to invest and apply himself towards journalism. By his awarding me and crowning me with the title of a “Free Spirit,” this occasion empowered me to work for achievement and that I am competent of overcoming anything I remain cognizant of.

The Al Nueharth Free Spirit Program has implemented values of a great correspondent to society, in all forms of communication. It has afforded me with necessary training and stepping stone resources towards my education and career in communications. As a value that was repetitively inculcated in this conference of a Free Spirit, I implore this reading audience to  captivate your goals and to revitalize your priorities; and applying yourself to the utmost extent to achieve your aspirations in journalist, communicating, or whatever your mind attracts to. The creed of a Free Spirit is applicable to everyone. It I necessary to encourage democracy, become self-actualized individuals, and become bodacious members of society. 

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