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HBCU Graduations

It’s hard to believe how much I’ve grown on my journey at Clark Atlanta

I’ll miss Fried Fish Fridays and working at ‘The CAU Panther,’ all preparing me for my tomorrows

Moving to Atlanta from Tallahassee, Florida, and going to Clark Atlanta University molded me into the man I am today. I had no idea how my college experience would go, but I always knew that I wanted it to be four years I would never forget. Being the first person in my immediate family to attend a historically Black college and university (HBCU) and the first one to become a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. are the things I am forever proud of. My influence of going to an HBCU translated to my little sister choosing to go to North Carolina A&T University to study kinesiology and exercise science starting this fall.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned in my college matriculation that I am going to take with me moving forward. One of the biggest lessons is to maintain relationships and keep the people around that bring out the best in you. Going to school away from home and not having any family in Atlanta made me homesick a lot. But gratefully, I made friends that turned into family. Making it through college is one of the most challenging things to do, but when you have people in your corner that keep you on track, focused and grounded, you understand those are the ones to keep around.

Another great lesson: I have learned to continuously try new things and step outside of my comfort zone because that is the only way we will grow in life. Serving as president of my fraternity’s chapter my junior year was a challenge, to say the least, and really tested me in many ways. But taking on that leadership role showed what I was capable of and to never give up when things get hard.

Something I would tell my freshman self is not to put so much pressure on myself and try not to have everything figured out so quickly. Taking each day one at a time, having a planner and focusing on setting goals each day helped me toward my goals. That is something I wish I would have known early on. That is extremely important because you never want to look back and have regrets about anything. College days do indeed swiftly pass, so cherishing every moment of these four years is so important.

I am going to miss Fried Chicken Wednesdays, Fried Fish Fridays, chilling on the promenade with friends, midnight madness, covering the football games in the press box and the annual Atlanta University Center rivalry games, Clark Atlanta versus Morehouse. Those are some of the best moments of my college career that I’ll never forget.

Outside of all the great memories on campus, landing internships could have been the best thing for my life. I ended my freshman year of college with one article published in the school’s newspaper, The CAU Panther, and the very next year, as a sophomore, I became the sports editor with multiple articles published. The summer right after my sophomore year, I landed my first internship with Turner Sports as a sports production intern and things started to align perfectly. I landed another summer internship after my junior year with SLAM magazine as a marketing intern and then immediately after that, I started the Rhoden Fellowship with ESPN’s The Undefeated to cap off my senior year.

Navigating through different internships and my fellowship, I have learned so much not only from professionals but my peers that I have worked with. One of the biggest lessons I learned is to stay authentic and be myself in whatever environment I’m in.

I never expected my senior year of college to be fully virtual, but after a while, I adjusted and made the most out of my situation. Working with The Undefeated helped me in every facet of my journalism journey, from learning how to write stories outside of sports, knowing the right questions to ask during an interview, editing, producing and hosting a podcast to creating a video piece to be published. I am immensely grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in this fellowship before entering the media industry. I now feel prepared for what is to come.

After graduation, I am looking forward to traveling the world, getting my master’s degree from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, landing my first full-time job, building upon my journalism skills and paying it forward to the next generation of leaders that are coming behind me.

Ashton Edmunds, a senior mass media arts major from Tallahassee, Florida, is the sports editor for The CAU Panther newspaper, an intern for The Atlanta Voice News Network and also an inaugural Turner Diversity Fellow at WarnerMedia.