Melanie Hawkins graduated from Harding Academy in 2010 and holds a B.A. in English language and literature from Christian Brothers University. She is currently working on a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Memphis.
What did you like most about being a student at Harding?
What I liked the most were the small classes. It was pretty much impossible to fall through the cracks. The teachers knew all of our names, and if you missed a couple of homework assignments, you would have a sit-down with your teacher. Harding faculty did an excellent job of making students feel as if they were a part of a community and not just a school.
How do you think Harding prepared you for being an undergraduate at CBU and now a grad student at the University of Memphis?
One huge way Harding prepared me for college and grad school was the workload. I’m pretty sure I had more homework in high school than I had in college and grad school combined. Being a student at Harding also instilled in me the importance of turning in work on time. Throughout my entire academic career, I’ve rarely missed a deadline. In fact, I try to turn in things ahead of time. In college and grad school, you are expected to know what’s on the syllabus and turn it in at the expected date.
What made you decide to pursue grad school for journalism?
I wanted to get my master’s in journalism because I wanted to have diverse writing skills under my belt. Writing an English paper on a novel is totally different than writing a news story. During my first semester in grad school, I had to train myself to stop writing like an English major and start writing like a journalist. I’ve always been interested in writing and literature. In high school, I went to a writing institute at Rhodes College. The news cycle is now 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Do you enjoy the fast pace of the news business? What is the biggest challenge for journalists today?
I do enjoy the fast pace of journalism. I thrive under pressure. But journalists can’t forego accuracy to get a story out first. One of the biggest challenges for journalists today is keeping up with social media. The first thing people do is when they wake up is check their social media accounts, and that is the first place where they get breaking news. Journalists can’t allow themselves to be influenced by the pace of social media because now more than ever we need information that is accurate. Another challenge journalists are facing today is their profession being undermined. Despite tremendous obstacles in recent months, journalists must continue to be messengers of truth.
What are some of your favorite publications or books? Favorite authors or writers? What news sites do you check regularly?
I have so many favorite books: “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, “Just Kids” by Patti Smith, “Parable of The Sower” by Octavia Butler, and “This Side of Paradise” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’ve read everything by F. Scott Fitzgerald. A friend of mine, who also happens to be a graduate of New Hope Christian Academy and Harding, and I are starting a book club to force our favorites on everyone else. Ha! For news, I mostly rely on NPR, BBC, Huff Post, and CNN. I do watch “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt,” mostly because I have a nerdy crush on him.
What do you hope to do after you finish grad school?
I hope to get a job in either teaching or journalism. Maybe in a few years, I’ll get a Ph.D. because I’ve always loved learning.