“I don’t know.”

Florence Owens Thompson, 32, in a photograph known as "Migrant Mother." This was taken in 1936 to capture the Great Depression in Nipomo, Calif.

Photo by Dorothea Lange

Back in October of 2008, high school seniors filled out college applications praying to get into their dream college to reach the ultimate goal of having their dream job. I, however, was not one of those soon-to-be diploma holders.

I was passionate about many things and had a plethora of dream jobs. I couldn’t wrap my head around picking a school to focus around one specific field of study. Then it hit me.

I sat back and remembered a trip I took to Barnes and Noble. I had spent nearly three hours in the photography section captivated by the beauty of the endless possibilities photographers have to capture a moment. That’s when I wanted to be the photographers that got to witness the stories, capture them and share them with the world. I wanted to be Ansel Adams, Mathew Brady, and Dorothea Lange. I yearned to be a photographer and was told I was a good writer so I went with photojournalism on a whim. In the spring of 2009 I received my acceptance letter and that was that – I was going to major in photojournalism at San Francisco State.

When I first began my studies as a photojournalism major I was apprehensive. I was told the major was cut throat, going through changes and not for the faint of heart. Many of my peers switched majors but something told me I chose studying journalism for a reason. I can now say I found my reason and I will never regret staying.

Studying journalism makes a person find their courage, hunger for knowledge, and explore worlds some people will only ever read about. I am studying journalism because it is a challenge that keeps giving back. I’ve grown to appreciate knowing I don’t know everything and, in all reality, appreciate I know very little about everything the world is composed of and has to offer. The world of journalism and everything I have encountered through it has shed light on how it isn’t just a good thing to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out,” but a valued quality to have.

Being a photojournalism major makes me excited about the future. All the skills I am learning and will continue to learn will be irreplaceable when it comes to doing anything in life – be it with a job in journalism or not.

I am studying journalism so I can go out in the world and say, “I don’t know. I don’t know, but I’ll find out and learn and grow as a person.” Maybe one day I’ll shoot for National Geographic and get to travel to new and exciting places or maybe I’ll end up being a school teacher wherever the wind may take me. Either way, I know I will always explore and seek answers. I will always remember the valuable lessons only being a journalist can teach you, and I will succeed in what I choose to do.

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About Virginia Tieman

Virginia Tieman was born in Böblingen, Germany and from there moved to Okinawa, Japan at the age of three. Having roots in cultural and colorful countries, artwork of all types draws Virginia in with its immense beauty - from its message to its texture. After leaving Japan, she relocated to Los Banos, California and spent her years there until graduating from Los Banos High School in the spring of 2009. During her years in Los Banos, she explored many creative outlets and found her passion in photography, playing the trombone and baritone, and writing. She was also very involved in community organizations and volunteered her time to those in need. In the fall of 2009, she enrolled at San Francisco State University as a photojournalism major and has stuck with it since. Her career goals beyond college include being a photographer for the National Geographic and starting up her own news media outlet, be it online, a magazine, or trying to revive the newspaper industry.

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