Keith Lamar McDonald

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MY BLOG:

Beat me into aging

I learned a lot in the Voices of Utah class this semester. Basically, what I learned is that there is a lot I need to learn to become comfortable calling myself a journalist. The journey isn’t complete, and won’t be even after graduation. There are so many wrinkles to make your writing more clear, palatable and functional that I did not know before I registered for this class.

Maybe that’s why you rarely see a young editor at a prominent newspaper.

Journalism_PhotoAnother valuable lesson I gleaned is what it takes to be an excellent journalist, or what we call “taking your work up the ladder of excellence.” As a competitor for journalism jobs in the workforce I want to be the best applicant I can be. This class has prepared me for what employers will expect from me now and in the future.

What I learned relates directly to the uniqueness of the class. You are not able to choose a beat; a beat chooses you, which mirrors the professional world. For me, writing about things I am familiar with and interested in is very easy while writing about things that bore me is very difficult.

By implementing the skills taught in this class I can write about anything no matter my disposition toward the subject. This will be a valuable tool going forward in the field of communication.

I have the bad habit of wanting to perfect complex processes too soon and the aging beat taught me about patience and perseverance — not only with the lessons in class, but in the stories of the individuals I interviewed.

My plans for the future

I have learned that I still need to polish my skills before I can call myself an accomplished journalist. Anyone can slather words onto paper and say they’ve done a good job, but too few writers can entertain with informative and insightful writing. I want to be in the latter group.

I plan on taking more journalism classes and maybe interning at a newspaper so I can work on my weaknesses and enrich my strengths. Two of the things I really need to work on are focus and structure. I also want to get the Associated Press Stylebook memorized as best I can so that I can be more creative without feeling insecure about my stylistic choices.

ABOUT ME:

I was born in a small suburb south of Chicago, Illinois, called Blue Island. I arrived in Utah after being stationed at Hill Air Force Base in 2001; in fact, my first official day at work as an airman in the 649th Munitions Squadron was September 11, 2001. Although I enjoyed my time in the military, the job did not suit my peaceful sensibilities or my inclination toward helping others.

Working with kids, whether it be mentoring, coaching, or teaching, is my passion. My dream, as grandiose as it sounds, is to enact change in the urban areas of America by developing social and athletic programs, promoting education and creating community solidarity activities to counteract the influence of gangs, drugs and sedentary lifestyles.

I plan to earn a bachelor’s degree, to major in communication and ethnic studies, and then go on to earn a master’s degree in social work. Eventually, I’d like to study secondary education as well.

To this end I have been working tirelessly in my spare time. First, I started a nonprofit youth basketball program in Chicago, called Go Getter Basketball, with my cousin. It is still servicing the youth of Chicago’s Southside today.

In West Valley City, I worked as a youth counselor and control room operator at Decker Lake Youth Center for the Juvenile Justice System for about two years before my position was terminated. It was a really fun experience getting to work with troubled youth on a daily basis. I rubbed elbows with social work professionals, attended training that pertains to the social work field and met all sorts of valuable contacts while serving as a counselor and role model for young clients.

I have also coached my son’s little league team, the Mets, in the Avenues Baseball League. For two seasons I have had the pleasure of getting to know nine boys and girls ranging in age from 6 to 8 years old at Lindsey Gardens Park. I learned a lot about patience and have acquired some real world experience managing and organizing young people.

As a Salt Lake Community College Student I spearheaded the Cub Club (as in Bruin Cub), a club that partners with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake and the YMCA to tutor youth, promote education and treat the cubs to free athletic games and SLCC-themed gear. Our third open house for the youth (at the Taylorsville/Redwood Campus) was April 4, 2013.

Academically, my career started off slow but it has gained momentum, as I’ve become more comfortable in my role as a father.  Degrees in communication and ethnic studies are just a semester away. I am committed to finishing my college career strong and becoming a venerable example for my son. With a little luck and a lot of hard work I am confident that I can support him in a manner in which he deserves while doing something that I love and serving my community.