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Lily Donaldson

Interview by Heather Staggs.

Audio Transcription

Heather Staggs  0:03

Hi, my name is Heather Staggs and I'm recording this for advanced multimedia reporting for a podcast interview. Is that okay? 

 

Lily Donaldson  0:10  

Yes. 

 

Heather Staggs  0:11  

Hey, can you introduce yourself a little bit and just tell us who you are?

 

Lily Donaldson  0:14  

Yeah. I'm Lily Donaldson. I am a graduate of Bolton High School in Shelby County. I-Since graduating there, I did my bachelor's in computer science at a school in DC called American University. And I'm currently a grad student in New York at a college called Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

 

Heather Staggs  0:34  

And what year did you graduate from Bolton?

 

Lily Donaldson  0:37  

I graduated Bolton in 2017.

 

Heather Staggs  0:40  

And what was your role at the Teen appeal while you were there?

 

Lily Donaldson  0:44  

I was a staff writer at the Teen appeal for I want to say it was maybe a year and a half the program got cut short about halfway through my second year.

 

Heather Staggs  0:56  

And so you worked there for about a year and a half you. Okay. Um.  And can you tell me a little bit about your time before working at the Teen appeal and kind of what got you interested and even in pursuing that option in high school?

 

Lily Donaldson  1:11  

Yeah. I was always interested in writing and journalism even throughout middle school. And so when I got into high school, I really wanted to get into student journalism. And my high school did have a newspaper for a little while, but got defunded while I was attending Bolton. Like a lot of different schools across Memphis city and Shelby County, they just didn't have funding for the newspaper. And that's one of the programs that usually gets cut if they want to cut a class. So the Teen Appeal was sort of attractive to me, because I wanted to write for paper, and it was kind of my only option. But it was a really awesome experience when I started there, because it brought in students from all over the city. And so I got to make a lot of new friends from across the city and other high schools and have the opportunity to just write that I didn't have otherwise.

 

Heather Staggs  2:10  

Can you tell me about the application process or what the process was for applying for the Teen Appeal and getting chosen?

 

Lily Donaldson  2:16  

It was so many years ago, I believe that it was a writing sample that you had to submit, I don't think it was a resume or anything. My English teacher I think, is the one that told the class about it. They tended to like send out flyers or like info sessions out to the different high schools. And then you know that usually, if there wasn't a newspaper class, which most Shelby County Schools didn't have, at that point, they would send it to the English teacher and the English teacher would distribute it. So I believe that my English teacher just showed it to me and I was already interested in, she knew I was interested in writing and journalism. So it's kind of was a no brainer for me to apply. And I think I just submitted some kind of writing sample and then they had like, a, you were accepted the year before you started. And then there was like a summer camp where they gathered everybody, and we did like a little journalism camp where we learned about like, proper journalism, etiquette and writing and interviewing. And they brought in speakers, Otis Sanford, is that his name? Department, he, I remember, he was part of the program. And he came and spoke. And like taught a little less than on journalism. And they also brought in like some community members that we could practice interviewing for different stories. And then that set us up for the rest of the year to just basically write and publish pieces.

 

Heather Staggs  3:49  

Do you remember how you were selected to or how you were notified that you were selected to be on staff?

 

Lily Donaldson  3:56  

It was definitely an email. I remember because I- Are you from Tennessee by any chance?

 

Heather Staggs  4:02  

I am. I actually went to Bolton high school. I graduated in 2007. 

 

Lily Donaldson  4:05  

Oh, you did? Okay. Do you remember, um, Governor's School? 

 

Heather Staggs  4:09  

Yes. 

 

Lily Donaldson  4:10  

I remember the acceptance of the Teen Appeal because I got accepted to Governor's School, I want to say the same day. And so I remember like having screenshots of both of the emails and sending them to my parents. They might have sent a letter too but I think the first thing was was the email that you received. Yeah. 

 

Heather Staggs  4:32  

And how did you feel when you found out you've been accepted? I mean, I know you had the governor school too. So that was a that's a big accomplishment in of itself, but......

 

Lily Donaldson  4:39  

 well, I wasn't-Governor school was such an amazing experience. But I my parents didn't want me to go out of town. So I ended up going to the International Studies  Governor's school, but I wasn't interested. I really at that point in my life, I really wanted to be a journalist. And so I was and I thought I want to be political journalist. So that international relations kind of tied in but I was very excited about the acceptance of the Teen Appeal, because I didn't think I was gonna have another opportunity to write to do student journalism while I was in high school. So it was even at that time, I knew it was like a really amazing opportunity that I was very grateful for.

 

Heather Staggs  5:18  

What were you most excited about through the Teen Appeal? Like, what aspect of the process were you excited about?

 

Lily Donaldson  5:27  

I really wanted to, like my goal was, so I'm a first generation college student. So my goal for all of high school middle school was I wanted to be prepared to apply to colleges. And I thought at the time, I was gonna apply the journalism major. And I did end up applying as a journalism major to college and ended up changing later. But that's another story. So I just like to have the resume experienced and like the college application, like builder to be able to write and do the thing that you want to major in at college was what I was most excited about. And then once we started doing the camp, just getting to meet, you know, other journalism students, was really awesome actually did the program. In 2015, my friend to me, I was part of it that went to Bolton. And so that was fun, but a lot of it was a lot of the people were not from my school, most of them weren't. So getting to meet people from all over the city was really cool.

 

Heather Staggs  6:27  

Did y'all have a good working relationship among the staff members? Have you stayed friends beyond the program?

 

Lily Donaldson  6:33  

Yeah, I have a couple people I've stayed friends with beyond the program. The main one where we got to see each other was the camp. And the summer camp. It was like a week long at the University of Memphis. It was just like a, like a day camp. We didn't stay overnight. But the the rest of the year, we would have, I think it was, it might have been monthly staff meetings. But it was optional, if you wanted to go in person, the University of Memphis or not. They were like pitch sessions where you pitch what articles you're gonna write for the month. And so some sometimes you wouldn't see people the same month or the next month that they decided to come because you could do the pitch session, virtually. But yeah, I mean, I definitely still have a couple friends from that program. And the camp was definitely like, a good memory of mine of like having the social experience of that was actually before one of my gun personal experience. So that was the first time I was like, on a college campus. And like, interacting on a college campus, which as a high schoolers is really awesome. And yeah, definitely, like inspiring for, like the aspiration going college.

 

Heather Staggs  7:48  

And how did how did the summer camp work? Like, what was the setup of a day to day through that experience?

 

Lily Donaldson  7:55  

Yeah, it was, it was mainly blocked out by like, lectures. And so they had all these speakers that came to give different lectures about some journalism skills. And then we usually would have like a, like a breakout session where we would get in groups and do some kind of assignment that corresponded to the lecture. Like maybe someone would come and speak about interviewing skills, and then we would practice interviewing each other. And then the, at the end of the camp, like the culmination of it was they brought in a nonprofit that promotes literacy in Memphis. And they brought in a couple of people from the nonprofit and they, the main person, like told the story of the nonprofit, and they also had someone who was previously literate that learned to read through the nonprofits program, and they then we kind of split into groups, and we got to do interviews with them separate interviews. And then like the combination of the camp was B wrote articles about the literacy program. So yeah, it was definitely like a very skills based camp.

 

Heather Staggs  9:04  

Let's see. So you were there for a year and a half. Did you ever have the chance to mentor other students who came in behind you? And how did that kind of work?

 

Lily Donaldson  9:15  

Yeah, I don't think so. Like we did the camps and it was Yeah, I think I was still pretty green the second time, so I didn't really do any mentoring. I did definitely tell other people bout it. And like my one friend that was at Bolton signed up, because I told her about it the next year. But then of course, it was really kind of abruptly cut, cut short. So anyway,

 

Heather Staggs  9:45  

So can you like How How did y'all find out that the program was going to be like cut short? Did y'all get a lot of notice? Or like what was the process of that? Being told that?

 

Lily Donaldson  9:55  

I don't think we got a letter again. This was years ago, but I don't I don't think it was a lot of notice. I Do you remember it was maybe like a few days before Christmas, in 2015. So I mean, we were out on Christmas break, or holiday break. And so I remember it was sudden in that like, like we were on winter break. And we usually didn't do any Teen Appeal stuff like on school breaks. And it was just like maybe a couple days before Christmas, Elle Perry, who was the I believe her title was like the coordinator. She was the coordinator at the time. And she sent us an email that was like, like, I'm so sorry that to have to tell you this. But the Scripps Howard foundation cut funding to the program. So this is like the end of the Teen Appeal that the program was so to my understanding the Scripps Howard Foundation provided a salary for Elle Perry, who was there a salary for the coordinator, and Elle was the coordinator while I was there. And then they let us use their printing presses for like the printing presses that are used to print the Commercial Appeal, which Scripps Howard owned. They let us use the printing press to print our newspaper. And then when the Commercial Appeal was sold to another company, I believe to my memory, I think they were sold to another company. And then the new company didn't like have any funding for doing it. And Scripps Howard was I can continue providing that because they weren't associated with the Commercial Appeal anymore. But yeah, I think it was the funding was basically just printing and Elle and so l really was like the entirety of the program. She was full time. Over the program. She coordinated all she coordinate the camp, she coordinate all the meetings, she did all the editing, she managed all the printing, it was really like a one person show. So yeah, when she, when they lost funding for her job, that was basically it.

 

Heather Staggs  11:59  

Yeah. So I know we've talked a little bit about like the camp experience. But like, aside from that, once it got into the school year, what was your training? Like and what was like a day - a week by week, what was a normal week for you guys?

 

Lily Donaldson  12:15  

Yeah, we we had monthly pitch sessions, where once a month, we would go usually I went in person at the University of Memphis, you could also just do it by email. But basically you you pitch to Elle, what articles you wanted to write for the month. And the great thing about going in person was you got to bounce ideas off of the other students that were there. And even like do collaboration, there was a couple articles I did like as a co writer. So that was a really cool experience. But you did the pitch session, you would come with an idea. Or if you didn't have an idea, which was sometimes l would come up with something for you, or another student would come up with something and I think what we would do is we would do this in a room that had like a blackboard and Elle would take pitch suggestions, and she'd write them all on the blackboard. And then you would pick which one you wanted to write. So you could pitch something that you wanted to write or you could pitch something that you just something maybe that was going on in the community or sometimes like events coming up, like if anyone wants to write about that. And then people would pick which ones they wanted to do. And then it was about one to three articles a month, usually that you could choose to choose to do. And then l offered like editing support. So you'd write your article and maybe do interviews, kind of just that was kind of up to you. But you get the first draft and you send it to Elle and she'd send back edits. And then usually just like one more draft, and she might do another edits and it got published to the website and also in the paper edition. And then the next month you would start over.

 

Heather Staggs  13:58  

Do you remember any memorable stories that you wrote for the Teen Appeal or anything that like experience that stands out in your mind?

 

Lily Donaldson  14:05  

I think that I got chosen. So the the literacy event at the camp where we all wrote the articles, I don't think everyone's articles were chosen. And I co wrote one with another student and I think that was one of the ones that got chosen to be published. So I kind of remember like being excited that that ours got picked. i there was like one pretty big article that I wrote with my English teacher at Bolton because we you probably know that since you went to Bolton. But there were a couple years that Bolton like really had a bad news cycle. And there was some very negative events that went on. This was when I was at Bolton in 2013 to 2017. And there were some, you know, very negative press events that were going on at the school and it was kind of frustrating to a lot of students at Bolton, you know, we were doing all these like really cool stuff like, links of love was a huge, like fundraising thing and all the, you know different extracurricular activities and like the theater put on really great shows and people would get like scholarships, and like the news, local news, like never read anything like that at all about the school, but they constantly ran these negative news stories. And so my English teacher and I decided that we were going to write like a letter, an open letter to the local news media, about all the great accomplishments that Bolton had, and how we thought it was unfair that they were really only publishing like, sensational stories that and you know, publishing them over and over again. And it's very, like discouraging to the students there that are just trying to learn and like contributing stuff back to the community and contributing stuff back to the school. And so that got published in the Teen Appeal, I remember. And it also was sent out because it was a letter was sent out to all the local stations, channel three, Channel Five, and channel three ended up coming and doing like a little story on an academic program at Bolton IB program. 

 

Heather Staggs  14:05  

Oh, yeah. 

 

Lily Donaldson  14:43  

Yeah, so it was like a fun, like way to see something that you write actually, like, make a difference. But I was able to write that and like have that published because of the Teen Appeal. 

 

Heather Staggs  16:37  

That is so cool. Do you remember any? So like, that's definitely a memorable experience. Do you remember any challenges you had while working at the Teen Appeal, or anything you would have wanted to see have done differently while you were there?

 

Lily Donaldson  16:49  

Yeah, I mean, I think just, this just goes back to the way that the funding was structured is that it was difficult to have Elle be the one person in charge. And I don't know if I don't like as a someone who's an adult now -I don't see like, maybe even having two full time people would be feasible for a program like that. But even if it was just like a main full time coordinator and two part time University of Memphis students helping out, I think that could have helped it go smoother, because sometimes like, not very often. But like if l would get sick, the meeting would be canceled, because no one else was going to come and help. Because there just was no one else working there. Otis was was sort of associated with it. And he came around from time to time, but it was really all falling on the coordinator. So I would love to see the program restarted. There's still like a dearth of there's, there's a lack of student newspapers in Memphis still. If it were to be, maybe, and again, this goes back to just having more funding, it would be nice to have some more staff involved on it. 

 

Heather Staggs  18:04  

Yeah. So how do you think that your experience with the Teen Appeal has affected your life and your career going forward? Any skills that you've taken into your current career path? Or just how it's influenced you in general?

 

Lily Donaldson  18:19  

Yeah, I mean, I think it definitely influenced me a lot. It was just like, the first I've worked I had written for my school's paper, when it was it existed for a little bit, but the program was run better than my school's paper was at the time that I was there. And so like, gaining the skills of like writing and interviewing, and just like, even just practicing journalism, even if sometimes it wasn't very good, because you know, high schoolers sometimes that aren't their best writers, but just like having the experience of practicing and trying different things out, and having even just like the resume builder of when you're applying to journalist, journalism schools like that you have some experience working in journalism, which a lot of students in Memphis don't have that opportunity. So like having that was really important. And then, so if this goes back to the how did I ended up as a computer science major, and I'm now a PhD student studying in the STEM field. So I applied to schools as a journalism major, I thought that I was going to be a journalist, and because I loved writing, love communication. And I ended up getting accepted with a full scholarship to American University as a journalism major. And before I even started, I changed to film and media, which was still in the Communication School. Because I was interested in like theater, lighting, technical theater and lighting design at the time. But I got to college and I was the Communication School major, and I didn't really care for the classes that much just like I think that I, like had the opportunity to explore further into journalism and just figured that it wasn't really something that I wanted to do for four years in college. At the same time, I was taking a computer science class like an intro one, which is something I had never done before, anything to do with coding. And I really loved it. And so I just changed my major to computer science like that same semester. Part of that was because I figured so when the Teen Appeal ended in December 2015, I was still looking for other journalism opportunities that was that was only halfway through my high school career. And I did a program called the Baldwin fellowship at University of South Carolina, I think it was where it was a - the Baldwin Fellows Program was basically a scholarship to attend the Southern Press Interscholastic Journalism Conference, don't quote me on what the acronym stands for. It's something like that, like this interscholastic Journalism Conference or something. But um, while I was there, I met a guy who owned a newspaper in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He was an alumna, and he was teaching a course. But he was really a web designer, because that's where most of so if you were a journalist in like, the early 2000's, late 90s, those were some of the people at the forefront of the web, because newspapers were the first ones, or media in general was the first to like, make websites. And so if you were a journalist at that time, a lot of them ended up becoming web design professionals. And that was his case, his name is Chris - Chris Muldrow. And by the time that I met him into this fellowship, he was he owned a newspaper, but he was also a web designer, and a web design company. And he really kind of introduced me to the idea of like blending, journalism and tech, which is why I tried to take the computer science class when I started college. So I, from him, I kind of like figured if I got the computer science degree, like I could always go be a journalist after work in journalism in some way, with a computer science degree. But if I changed my mind about journalism, I couldn't do something else with a journalism degree or like, it'd be more difficult. So that was kind of my logic. But I mean, definitely, like the skills from the Teen Appeal of like writing and communicating and interviewing are helpful in any field. And so and also, like, maybe like world awareness too, I don't want to say it's in depth as a political awareness. But when you're working in journalism, even as like a high schooler, you do have a more like a deeper awareness of news and world news. Because often, your mentors, your teachers will say, like, you know, you need to watch, you know, the local news or the national news. So you can gain that like, glean experiences off them that have journalism in it and so, like, living in DC in college, definitely. You know, having that kind of world awareness and political awareness that came from being a journalism student in high school was was very helpful. And then just being able to write has been really helpful in grad school. That was definitely something to feel helped out with was practicing writing skills outside of English class. And yeah, that's, that's been helpful in grad school, even as a I'm a architectural sciences, PhD student, which is kind of a another view, but lots of writing. 

 

Heather Staggs  23:58  

Yeah. So I mean, you gotta answer this question, but I guess I'll just end our interview on- Do you think that this program should be restarted? Or do you think that it had enough of an impact and legacy to warrant coming back and maybe being relevant again?

 

Lily Donaldson  24:14  

Yeah, I definitely think it does. Like I said, it's there's just so many high schools in Memphis and Shelby County that don't have journalism programs, and a lot of it has to do with funding. Memphis City Schools are just historically underfunded. And the first things that tend to go when funding gets cut, or even just to begin with is, you know, the arts and extracurriculars like Newspaper Club. And so, in my experience, the Teen Appeal was just something that the city really needed and that the city's high schoolers really needed to be able to have that opportunity of, of being student journalists, that people in other cities and other states get. And when you're not on the same playing ground like applying to colleges or even just in your career, or not having the opportunity to explore journalism as a career, because journalism is not offered at your high school. You ended up having people that never really reached their full potential because they never get to discover their natural talents and matter their natural interest in it. So I would really love to see the program come back. I have really great memories, not just writing for it, but we got the papers printed, and like print journalism in 2014/2015 was kind of like, foreign to people in high school, you know, it was on the way out, it's kind of like your grandparents read newspapers, but they would print the Teen Appeal papers out, and we would get them at lunch. Or, like, when I was on the staff, they would send them to the office, and I would pick them up from the office and hand them out at lunch during lunch period. And like being able to, like touch and feel like and pass around the newspapers was, I think, a really good experience, not just for the people that were writing for it but also just like the high schools in general that were just getting to read articles that their peers wrote for them. 

 

Heather Staggs  26:25  

Did y'all write more, like fun stories? Or did you write political stories? What kind of stories did y'all write in the Teen Appeal?

 

Lily Donaldson  26:32  

It was, it was mixed the when you came to pitch sessions, it was Elle was very liberal handed about like, what she would allow. I mean, not that, like, you know, you can't do anything inappropriate. But if someone wanted to write something maybe more like world news related. Or if you wanted to write an article about I think I wrote an article about like prom dress, prom dresses, like picking out prom dresses. It was kind of all up for grabs. There were sections to the newspaper, I believe. And there was like an entertainment section and like a news like proper news section, technology sports. So you could just really pick what you were interested in and write about that.

 

Heather Staggs  27:22  

Interesting. Well, thank you for talking to me about this. It's of course very interesting. Like I never I mean, I don't I don't remember it being in existence or hearing about it when I was in high school.

 

Lily Donaldson  27:32  

 I don't remember. Do you know when it started the program?

 

Heather Staggs  27:35  

I don't even know when it started. I know. I knew when the funding had gotten cut, but I never heard about it in high school. And I was at Bolton from 2003 to 2007.  I wasn't as interested in journalism.

 

Lily Donaldson  27:50  

Okay. 

 

Heather Staggs  27:50  

I did theatre.

 

Lily Donaldson  27:52  

Oh, did you? Did you have Karen Dean was your teacher at the time? 

 

Heather Staggs  27:56  

No. She came in after I graduated. 

 

Lily Donaldson  27:59  

Was - was her name Debbie? 

 

Heather Staggs  28:01  

Debbie Nelson.

 

Lily Donaldson  28:02  

Yeah. I had I had Mrs. Dean. But I was all I did technical theater out there. But yeah. You must be on the wall somewhere then. 

 

Heather Staggs  28:12  

Yeah. 

 

Lily Donaldson  28:14  

The cast list wall. Yeah. I think that still exists. They ended up with Mrs. Dean and Mr. White, who took over from Debbie left, right after I graduated. And they've gone through, I think two theater teachers now.

 

Heather Staggs  28:28  

Yeah, I know that. They just had one that went to Germantown, Chad Hoy. And I don't know who is even there now.

 

Lily Donaldson  28:37  

Yeah, it's kind of the arts are a struggle, I think for a lot of Memphis schools. Journalism, like we're talking about journalism. And that's a big one. But theater too. It's just everything that Debbie I believe everything Debbie did. And I know everything that Mrs. Dean did, was self funded. Not that they were paying out of pocket for it. But everything that we did, besides their salaries were funded, like we had to fundraise for them. And journalism programs kind of get like that to have like, if you can, you can if you have enough English teachers, which most Memphis City Schools don't, but if you have enough English teachers, that one can teach a newspaper class, just one newspaper class, and if doesn't work with your schedule, you're out of luck. Because yes, just they only have one section. But even even that, like nowadays in schools, Shelby County Schools, that's they don't even have an English teacher to spare for one class to teach newspaper. So

 

Heather Staggs  29:39  

Yeah. I mean, I think education in general is just kind of struggling. And then if you add in, like communication and the arts, anything of that nature, it's almost non existent now.

 

Lily Donaldson   29:50  

Yeah, yeah. I hope that the theatre program's still going on at Bolton. Last I heard when Chad left. I don't I don't know if they hired anyone. 

 

Heather Staggs  29:58  

Yeah, I haven't heard of anything else happening. I mean, I did it all four years in high school. It was a great program when I was at Bolton, yeah, Debbie, like it was amazing. 

Lily Donaldson 30:11 
It was a great program when Mrs. Dean had it, it’s just that when she left, I think that the fundraising also expertise left and that’s kind of the downfall of- yeah, 

Heather Staggs 30:21 
Yeah, but I think it was such like, a, just like I think journalism is a- um- worthwhile like thing to have for students, I think theatre is as well. So I hate to see the program fall apart or not be in existence anymore. 

Lily Donaldson 30:33 
Yeah. I did a lot of work with STEM and arts education. I like to say that like people love to really push STEM education. It’s really important and I am a computer scientist so of course I think it’s important, and I like it, but the thing about the arts is, like, um, you know know not everyone wants to be a scientist. And if you want to push everyone to be a scientist you lose out on great journalists and great artists because those people are also important to society, even though you know, we say like, No, you shouldn't get a journalism degree, you shouldn’t get an arts degree, well, then, then you'd be upset, though, if you didn't have any journalists or artists left. And not not just that, but also, like, I really think that up until you go to college, you need a well rounded education, that includes both the arts and sciences, even if you think to yourself, then you're going to be an artist, or a scientist or a business person. Because you never know, like, I changed my thought. I was dead set, I was gonna be a journalist, and then discovered that I liked coding and became a software developer. Yeah, you never know where life is gonna take you, I never know where life is gonna take you. And all the skills that I learned in the arts, and in journalism, have been helpful to computer science. Teachers like creative thinking, communication skills, writing-all that's important. And on the other hand, if you're an artist, like having coding skills, like as a journalist, like having some kind of coding or web design, or data science skills is also really important. So having the those kinds of programs available to kids, like journalism, and like science clubs, it's really important that they like, can come out of the other end and graduate and be prepared for the world. 


Heather Staggs 32:15
Yeah, and know, like, kind of what they're interested in when they go into college, because so many students now go into college, and they have no idea. I mean, I got an undergraduate degree in theater performance, which I love - theatre was my passion. But when I graduated, I was like, Oh, what am I going to do with this? So I went to law school, and now I'm in graduate school for journalism. So I mean, you just kind of have to know like, what you're interested in. 

Lily Donaldson 32:35 
Yeah, it's helpful to be able to explore those things before you have to start paying directly, before you get into the student loan debt or whatever. 

Heather Staggs 32:42
Well, thank you so much for talking to me about this and taking time out of your day.

Lily Donaldson 32:53
Yeah, sorry, we got had such a struggle to get connected.

Heather Staggs 32:57
No, that's okay. I mean, I know schedules are difficult. And you know, life is crazy. So, uh, but I'm glad we finally got to connect.

Lily Donaldson 33:03
Can I ask, did you find me by looking at the old website? 

Heather Staggs 33:11
And just like, yeah, on the website, In class, we ,like kind of, like, got names from some of the coordinators, and some of the, you know, staff members at the University of Memphis. And then we looked at it's still my class. Yeah, it's like it says, it says on my bio, that I want to be like a I think it says the website and looked at some old bios. 

Lily Donaldson 33:21
Which still exists. And it's still my class. Yeah, it's like it says, it says on my bio, that I want to be like a I think it says I want to major in communication. I think it might say I want to major in journalism. And then I just looked at it when you first messaged me, because I was like, trying to recall memories from this. But it said I wanted to major in journalism and get a PhD in communications so that I could go, I could be a PR agent for the United Nation. That was what I thought when I was Yeah. And now I'm in architecture school. So you know, things, things change. 

Heather Staggs 33:57
Things change so much from when you're, you know, in high school to you know, when you're an adult. Life takes you in some crazy ways. So yes, yeah. Anyway, thank you so much. 

Lily Donaldson 34:01
Of course, thank you.

Heather Staggs 34:09 
I appreciate it so much.

Lily Donaldson 34:10
And if you, I don't know, if you guys are publishing the podcast, but are you guys interviewing other other people that were in the program?

Heather Staggs 34:16
Yeah, so we've been, we've interviewed like several people, some past coordinators, I think l we interviewed Elle, someone interviewed Otis. We've got some students involved, some from various years. 

Lily Donaldson 34:29
Yeah, I'd love to hear it if you publish it or - 

Heather Staggs 34:30
Yeah, absolutely. I'll send it to you. And the episodes are dropping on April 28. So I'll send you the website and everything.

Lily Donaldson 34:37
And one more question. Sorry to keep you. Is the premise- It seems like the premise is maybe like a revival of the program. Is that coming from like Otis or anyone or is it just like in just a topic someone found? 

Heather Staggs 34:50 
No, it's not coming from anybody in power, just we're hoping to bring an awareness to the program and - and the impact that it had on the community and why it might still be relevant today. Yeah. So that possibly it could be revived. And there could be some- someone could come through with some funding to offer it again to students, because, you know, everyone's had such a positive experience with it, and has had some good things to say about about it being in Memphis, that not existing anymore seems like a shame.

Lily Donaldson 35:18
Yeah, well, it's most of the people that did the program didn't have journalism programs in their high school. So it was kind of like a- people are very positive about it, because there was no other option. And there still is no- I mean, not to say that the program wasn't like positive, but it to me, I thought it was, you know, pretty well run, but to like, know that you don't have any kind of opportunities in journalism, and you want to be a journalist. And then suddenly, someone's like, Hey, there's this program in Memphis, that you can do it. I think. That's like part of the positive leaning of it. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I won't keep you. 


Heather Staggs 36:00
Maybe something will happen. And yeah, maybe it'll be revived. And maybe one day, yeah, I think it still would be very relevant for students today to have that experience. And I think you can even take so many skills away from the experience, even if you don't go into journalism, you can take away you know, communication skills, writing skills analysis. 

Lily Donaldson 36:18 
I mean, the the friends that I kept that did the program, I don't think any of us are journalists. Yeah. Which even at the time, like, I like, we had to write bios that said, we wanted to be when we grew up, and like I was looking back at them. And my friend, Tanya, she wrote that she wanted to be a nurse. And I think she ended up going into the medical field, but like, even at the time, she didn't really want to, she didn't want to be a journalist. She wanted to be a nurse. But she just saw something that was like a good experience from the program and wanted to do it. 

Heather Staggs 36:52 
Yeah,I think I mean, it's, there's such a wide range of skills that you learn in a program like that, that you can take into, you know, pretty much any occupation or any profession going forward. So it's interesting.

Lily Donaldson 37:07
Well, I look forward to it.

Heather Staggs 37:10 
Absolutely. I'll send it your way. Thank you so much. Thank you. Bye bye.

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