I consider it to be both a gift and a curse that I am tasked with writing the final blog post for the 2017-2018 Newman’s Own Fellowship cohort. I am grateful for the opportunity to read all of your stories and absorb your insights. Being a part of this group of has been an honor and a privilege for me, and I am in awe of the excellent work being done by my fellow Fellows. The only negative side of going last – the cursed side – is having such tough acts to follow. So with that in mind, here is my best attempt at being self-reflective:
If you are currently reading this and are uncertain about taking on a new challenge, just do it. Put yourself out there. Forget about the expectations of others and focus on your expectations of yourself. Do not be afraid to fail, because failure is informative. Failure is the greatest teacher. You’ll never know if you don’t go. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t-
OK, I’ve drifted into cliché-motivational-quote-trope territory and will stick to just speaking directly to my experience:
My experience as a member of the 2017-2018 Newman’s Own Fellowship Cohort has been nothing short of awesome. Since last August, I have worked as an Education Fellow at Connecticut Public (CT Public), a media company in Hartford, CT producing diverse Internet, TV, radio, and print content for the state’s local communities. CT Public is unique in that in it is the only public media company in the country to also include a media school within its facilities. As an Education Fellow, my responsibilities have been two-pronged; as an educator, I have been tasked with providing technical support for media students attending our classes, and as a content creator I have assisted on in-house productions for CPTV properties.
When I first accepted the position, I felt an overwhelming mix of excitement and nervousness. Fittingly, those two feelings correlated directly to my two roles. I felt nothing but pure excitement to be able to go out on professional film shoots with seasoned experts in the fields, all the while getting hands-on experience creating content and operating production equipment. Filmmaking has always been my greatest passion, and working in the television industry has been a lifelong goal.
Over the course of the year, I have taken on more responsibilities with each production – eventually serving as an Associate Producer, Editor, and Director of my own short film series focusing on student-centered learning in Connecticut. I am incredibly proud of this work, and with my final two months here am still eagerly volunteering to get out and work on as many shoots as possible.
My nervousness in accepting the position stemmed solely from my responsibilities as an educator. I am more on the introverted side, so the prospect of approaching strangers and engaging in frequent social interactions proved daunting. But I am so glad that I took the plunge and forced myself to step outside of my comfort zones. The students I have worked with over the course of this year are incredible – the work they are doing is impassioned and important. I feel lucky to be able to help empower the next generation of storytellers, musicians, journalists, and broadcasters as they mold their ambitions into plans for the future.
As part of CT Public’s Thinkalong program, a media literacy initiative, I have gotten the chance to visit schools across the state and facilitate debate sessions between middle and high school students. Being able to sit in a classroom and listen to the opinions of young people about a range of social issues and current events has been remarkably eye-opening. My favorite moment of each of these visits have been the instances when you can see in the expression of a student that they truly value having their voice heard, when they realize that someone finally is listening to what they have to say. I am grateful to have had that experience, and would not trade it for anything.
As I reach the final few months of my Fellowship, I am glad that I chose to put myself out there. Not only have I been able to sharpen my skill set in my field of interest, I have been exposed to a whole new world of opportunity in the field of education. I am proud of the work being done by our students at CT Public, and happy that I was able to help facilitate their visions into reality. Personally, I am thankful to have had the help and support of my supervisors and coworkers at CT Public, and the entire crew at Newman’s Own Foundation. Their guidance has empowered me to take more risks, to push myself, and to allow myself to fail. Today, I am fine with the future being uncertain – because uncertainty no longer intimidates me.
By Rob Hunt, NOF Fellow at Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network, Hartford, CT.