College Graduation SeriesInterview by Alyzia McAlmon
Mr. Dante Evans is one of the first 50 students from the summer of 2007 and is graduating this spring. He is one of the many success stories that make up the diverse family of Student U students and staff. As he prepares to graduate from The University of Maryland in May, Dante made sure to shed light and place emphasis on how consistent Student U has been throughout his journey in his interview. It is the consistency of our presence within the lives of our students, the over 7,500 hours our students directly engage with our organization from sixth grade through college and the countless hours outside of this time that these students walk through life knowing that Student U is a part of them, our values a part of their spirit, our belief in them a part of their own belief in themselves. In honor of the first class of students accomplishing yet another goal, college graduation, we have started a College Graduation Series to share their stories and honor their commitment to their goals and the program for the past 11 years.
Dante, what is the most exciting part about pursuing your dream in becoming a sports broadcast journalist? How have your goals and initiatives changed from freshman year to now? What career-related opportunities have you had during your journey?
The most exciting part about pursuing my dream was being able to have my hands on many different aspects of the sports journalism world. During college I was able to work in various sports fields, from working the high school sports desk at the Washington Post, to becoming a broadcast network intern for the Washington Redskins, and many things in between. I was able to work at these amazing, nationally recognized organizations while attending school and was able to work and produce content with professionals on a weekly basis. Many people don't get to say they accomplished those things during the school year. My goals have changed completely from freshman year to now. When I entered college, my goals were to be a play-by-play broadcaster for a sports team or network. As I progressed through the journalism program, I realized that I was a great storyteller, but the best way that I could tell stories was behind the camera and not in front of a mic. My aspirations are to now be a videographer or documentarian for a company or television station somewhere in the country. I never knew about this occupation until I went to college and realized that it was something that I could do and never get tired of. Freelancing with the Big Ten Network, working for the Washington Post, and interning with the Washington Redskins and C-SPAN has given me a great viewpoint of multiple aspects of the journalism world and have solidified my feelings that I choose the right major and the right career path for myself.
What school are you graduating from? What will you be earning a degree in?
I am graduating from the University of Maryland. I will be earning a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism.
What extra-curricular activities did you participate in?
I was a campus tour guide all four years of college. I was a member of the Maryland Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press Sports Editors – Maryland Chapter, and I was the social chair of the Maryland chapter of the National Press Photographers Association.
What was the toughest obstacle you had to overcome as a college student?
Time management for sure was my toughest obstacle to overcome while in school. Being that the journalism major requires many hours outside of the classroom, you can get caught up in gathering stories and doing research for your journalism classes and completely ignoring the other classes you are enrolled in. It took almost the first two years of college for me to really master putting in the amount of work needed to create successful stories for my journalism classes and managing my other classes enough to still be active in my extra-curricular activities.
What are your goals and aspirations after graduation? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
My goals and aspirations after graduation are to be employed working in videography or video production for a company or organization. In 5 years, I'll hopefully be at a higher level at that same company or working at a different company with a more important video production job.
How have you grown as a person over the last 4 years?
I've grown in multiple ways during my four years in college. Working in multiple professional organizations has taught me how to work in a professional environment with all types of people from different walks of life. Being a tour guide on campus has taught me many things. It forced me to craft my public speaking abilities, because I'm giving 90-minute tours to families and school groups from all over the world, some who have a family history of attending college and some who have never stepped foot on a college campus before. Being a tour guide crafted my critical thinking skills, because there are countless questions and situations that you will find yourself in during a tour and you must be able to think on your feet and answer the question in a professional manner, because all eyes are on you. I know I can go into any room, any environment, and can have a great conversation with any person I encounter, and I owe some of that to the tour guide organization. Those skills also play into my ability to network. Attending conventions and workshops through the journalism school has allowed me to get my name and my brand out to people from across the nation, and that's where being comfortable speaking to people comes into play.
How has Student U had an impact on helping you set and achieve goals throughout your time in college?
Student U has had an impact on me setting and achieving my goals by being there for me. Sometimes, it's not about the things you do financially, but just being there when someone needs you to listen. The amount of people from Student U that have listened to me when I needed them to when I had a question, concern or a problem. These were not just current Student U staff members, we're talking about Student U teachers from my early days as a middle schooler in 2007. One of my teachers, Ms. Megan, lives in Washington, D.C. and we constantly see each other, and she has guided me through some tough situations and decisions I needed to make in college. There are also many people I can text, call, or email about a problem and I know they will give me their honest opinion and tell me what the best choice is to them.
How have you made an impact on your community? (Student U, Durham, School Campus)
I've made an impact on my community by being an example to younger students in my major. There are many students that I help in the journalism school who are trying to craft their video skills in the classes that I took during my early years of college. The journalism community is such a small one on a campus of over 36,000 students, so we've built a family within the university. The same help that I received when I was an underclassmen taking these intense journalism courses, I intend to give it to these younger students who were in the same position that I was. Showing them how to create dynamic stories is something that I enjoy doing, but I also see it as a responsibility of mine as an upperclassmen in the journalism school. Being a tour guide is probably the most visible way I'm giving back to my community. Being able to impact the lives of children from all over the country, to show them that not just the University of Maryland, but any college is enjoyable and attainable for all types of people. Being able to have an impact on one of the most important decisions in a person's life is an amazing feeling to have, and I am lucky that I was able to do it for four years at the University of Maryland.
Which of Student U’s core values has been most meaningful in your journey to graduating?
Dream Fearlessly is the Student U core value that has been the most meaningful to me. My school has a motto called Fearless Ideas, which goes hand in hand with Student U's core values. There were always times, especially during those first two years, where I would be timid in applying to internships, during class assignments, in almost anything important. As I started to believe in myself and realize that I could do amazing things, I started to reach for the stars. I was never scared to apply for a position of apply myself in class or during an assignment, because the dreams began to flow in my mind. Seeing the success of my peers at school and in Student U gave me even more of a reason to dream fearlessly, because I was seeing people live out their dreams with my own eyes.
How has your perspective on the world changed since graduating from high school? Life? Student U?
The world is much bigger to me now than it was in high school. I've been exposed to so many different cultures and backgrounds since attending college. It gave me a look into what else is happening in our country that I was never introduced to in high school. I've been able to educate myself and becoming a more diverse and well-rounded citizen. My views on life have become much more realistic now that graduation is steadily approaching and the real world is right around the corner. My perspective on Student U has strengthen in a way. I wasn't too sure if Student U would be as important in my life since I wouldn't physically be in Durham, or even in North Carolina. I honestly thought I would get lost and forgotten in the program being that I went so far away for college, but luckily that was not the case at all. Student U has showed me that there are people in this world who will always have your back no matter how near or far you are. I've always claimed Student U as my family, and they have proven to me time and time again that they are indeed my family.
If you could give a student in the Class of 2022 one piece of advice as they prepare to attend college in the fall, what would it be?
My advice for the Class of 2022 is to be active at your school, join organizations, meet people, talk to people. No matter how large or small your school is, you can always find a community there that fits you. You will never find that community if you don't try. Try something different, join an organization your friends aren't in. You may never know where your closest friendships will be made if you stick with the same people and same things you were doing in high school. Life is about being adventurous, making mistakes, meeting people, and enjoying life. Don't allow your past to dictate your future. The people you hung out with in high school may be doing different things in college and that's okay. Live life for yourself and not anybody else. Do things that you want to do, not what others are doing because it may seem cool or not because someone necessarily tells you that you should. Make those mistakes on your own, through your own decisions, the best lessons are taught from personal trial and error.
Want to get in touch with Mr. Dante? Or learn more about his work? Here is how:
Learn more or conact at LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/dante-e
View his work: https://vimeo.com/danteevans.
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