OKAY, so who gave me a magazine? I laugh everytime I think about that question. It does not matter who gave it to me. The fact that I have one is a miracle and blessing within itself.
How did I get here? Journalism has been apart of my life for as long as my memory serves. I have always enjoyed watching the news and talking, but writing was always my passion. Before I was able to write, speaking became natural to me. I never met a stranger. Even as a child, I did exactly the opposite of what my parents taught me; NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS. However, it made me fearless around others from different backgrounds. My key to that success is simple: smile, be approachable, and have an open mind. In my life, I have met some great people because I have followed my own set of rules. You can't call yourself a journalist if you have a fear of people. That's call anthropophobia. I looked it up. The best example I had growing up was my grandfather, Reese Jones. I swear everybody knows that man. I never understood why my grandfather spoke to so many people, but that comes from his lack of fearlessness and his willingness to speak to people.
I realized that I enjoyed writing when I was in grade school. One day, my class was given a persuasive writing assignment. I don't remember my original topic, but I found out upon submission that every student in the third grade was being entered into a contest. Of about ninety students, I finished first in the entire third grade, but it was in just my school. Now, that same essay was competing with five other kids. I was so confident. I looked good. I felt great. Then, I found out I took SECOND place. Kelli Marshall took first. Boy, I cried like someone killed my entire family! Yet, my mother took me aside and said, "you'll be back and you're gonna win!" It took three tries, but I eventually won, GODDAMMIT!
Let's fast-forward to 2013. I was at a crossroads in my life. I was married and living in St. Louis. I was a housekeeper at a hospital. I even had my own office there, kind of. It was more like a closet. There was a step ladder, which served as my thinking bench. I knew that I needed to do something else with my life. A magazine was something that I had dreamed about since I was sixteen. My father was a janitor. He didn't want that life for his kids, and here I am, pushing a mop and cleaning bathrooms. Something had to change. One of my best friends, Kellen Weaver, called me late one evening, and said "you need to do your magazine." I listened. I got the ball rolling, and then it stopped. Problems arose and bills needed to be paid. I quit. I thought about this magazine for months on end until I finally did it. Well, I'm not married any more. I'm highly motivated, and above all things, I lost my loser mentality.
Here it is 2015, and the dream is now a reality. From the time I saw my first newcast to my days in that janitor closet, I never lost my dream. Being around so many positive people made me realize that I am fully capable of giving YOU, the reader, a great product because this is a real dream come true. This is not about pictures and being apart of certain crowd. This is about helping others and giving chances to deserving people. UCM is finally here.
To my friends: Thank you all for supporting me. Thank you for giving me the confidence that I needed to push forward. This magazine is just as much yours as it is mine. I love you all. (This is for my friends old and new.)
To my old high school (Hillcrest High School in Country Club Hills, IL): Thank you giving my first opportunity to spread my wings as a writer. I would like especially thank my former literature teacher, Ms. Poston. She made me a better writer by failing me and forcing me to work on my craft.
To my assistant (Carly Johnson): Thank you for exposing me to a brand new world that I was afraid of meeting. Also, thanks for taking a chance on me and believing in the dream.
To my mother: Thank you for not allowing me to give up at nine years old. Thank you for being at every speech and writing competition. I know they were boring, but you always came. This magazine is here because of you.
To my father (1937-2010): Thank you for giving me something to strive for. I work hard because you did. I appreciate your sacrifice. I promise to always work hard because I know you will somehow send a message to remind me of what you've done. I promise to make you proud.
To my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: Thank you, Lord. You gave me the many gifts that I share with the world. I just want to honor you by never letting those gifts go to waste. Of all of your creations, you gave these gifts to certain people such as my self. Thank you, Lord!