The usual traffic through Florida A&M University’s school of journalism’s colloquium class was limited and students were all ears Thursday when guest speaker Laura Sullivan shared her life-changing story to encourage students.
“It’s an amazing power,” Sullivan said. “Journalists have a voice and it’s waiting to be heard.”
During Sullivan’s last semester at Northwestern University, she completed an investigative assignment that lead to the freedom of four inmates, two were on Death Row, who were wrongfully convicted of murdering two college students from Chicago.
Although Sullivan is now employed with National Public Radio and worked as a Washington correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, she still renders her post-undergraduate experiences as priceless.
“My college experience has helped shape every aspect of my life,” Sullivan said. “I appreciate it more now that I’m older and wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Sullivan said she wanted journalism students to take heed and continue the trend of being storytellers.
“I really want journalism students to know it will be a great profession, (and) not to be dismayed by the industry,” she said. “There are not only professional opportunities in journalism – but a chance to actually make a difference.”
Journalism students appreciated the message.
“She has been one of the more interesting guest speakers since I’ve been here,” said Cha-Ryl Johnson, a junior public relations student from Miami. “She had my attention the entire time and I took what she said into consideration.”
Joseph Ritchie, a professor in the school of journalism and graphic communication, said he brought Sullivan to FAMU because of the work she did as a student reporter.
“I feel like journalism students need to see evidence of why journalism matters,” he said. “Laura is at [Florida A&M] to give students an example of how they can make a difference as student journalists.”
Sullivan said her experience started in college and will forever be her foundation.
“You may be students, but you are journalist,” she said. “And that means you can change the world.”