VOX was my foundation.
An introduction to all of my passions, many of which I never realized I had until I became active at VOX. VOX has helped me bring the things that always existed within me out for the public to see. I learned the basics of all things related to journalism and communications at VOX and now I am pursuing the communications field as a Public Relations major at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Being active in VOX is one of the proudest moments of my upbringing and it opened my eyes to the importance of supporting nonprofits that seek to encourage and uplift the youth. That paved the way for my interest in corporate social responsibility, public affairs and community outreach/development which is only being brought to fruition now.
I am who I am because of VOX.
VOX helped me get the Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship, a scholarship that only selects 1,000 out of the 24,000+ bright applicants. Cara, a former adult staff, wrote me an amazing recommendation and my leadership activities at VOX strengthened my application.
I always thought that earning the scholarship helped me realize my life’s purpose but my life’s purpose was instilled in me even before I got the scholarship. Being an advocate for the Gates Scholarship and helping high school students apply only enhanced my passions that VOX originally showcased. My goal is to work in corporate social responsibility to empower people and support nonprofits — and that foundation was built from VOX.
So many things that I am just now learning about myself has built off of the principles that VOX instilled in me a few years ago. VOX was so rewarding because all of the positive energy that I put in to my time there –like getting involved with Epiphany Girl’s Group, Raise Your Voice Summer Camp, the VOX program internship, Graduation Countdown and a bunch of other activities. My involvement caused me to get so much more out of my VOX experience compared to a student who wasn’t as involved as I was. If you put a lot into VOX, you definitely get a lot out of it.
Take Tracy Jackson, from my class, the class of 2010. Tracy was the go to person for anything related to technology and design software. He knew everything about Photoshop, InDesign, layout, editing and so much more that VOX had to offer. He invested so much time in making the best of his VOX experience and in return VOX nominated him for the POSSE scholarship program which gave him full tuition to The College of Wooster in Ohio.
Then there is Stanley Stewart, class of 2013, who I liked to think of is another Tracy. Stanley knew everything about everything! He could easily host a workshop and help you understand the basics of Illustrator in a second. Because of his commitment to VOX, he had plenty of communications experience that lead to other accomplishments such as going to Brown University as a Bill Gates Millennium Scholar and interning at Turner Broadcasting.
What you give to VOX is what you get.
If you wanted to learn about Georgia’s juvenile justice and social service systems you could easily participate in JustGA. If you wanted to learn more about software programs such as InDesign, Illustrator, iMovie and Photoshop, you could attend a student ran workshop. And if you just wanted to share your opinion about the way the media impacts body image and if you wanted to express yourself through writing and poetry, you could join Epiphany Girls Group. VOX supplied me with resources and exposed me to things that I wouldn’t have learned about otherwise.
And above that, VOX exposed me to so much, even aside from communications and media related things. I learned more about what it takes to be successful and live life with a purpose. Cara Saleska, Erica Faulkner, Eve Chen- Williams, Isha Lee, and Rachel Alterman Wallack all gave me a dose of what it’s like to follow one of your passions and make it a career. Before I met them, everyone around me worked regular day jobs. Typical 9-5s. Every direction I turned, all I saw was people living mundane lives. I’m a first generation college student so I never had examples of what I could be like and what I could amount to if I went to college and strived to be successful. The women at VOX taught me that I could aspire for a life that I’m not used to seeing people have – true enjoyment and passion for work – instead of simply working to make a living.
I owe so much to VOX.
At first I felt that as a college student with little income, I couldn’t afford to give back to VOX just yet. But now I see that there is no better time than the present. While I am recognizing how much my involvement has impacted me life. And especially after this change agent is celebrating its 20thAnniversary!
I am so proud of all that VOX has accomplished in the last 20 years and I hope that the organization is around for 20 more years to come. All the student success stories. All of the social, economic and political issues the young journalists tackled in the newspaper. All of the bonding moments that students had with their peers and the adult staff. These are just of the few things that VOX offer that are much more valuable than one may ever realize.
Thank you for raising me VOX.
Teyonna Ridgeway is a rising senior at Howard University who misses Big Wind Blows, the chalk board, free MARTA, Honey I Love You, Saturday staff meetings, staff retreats, layout week, Girls Group sleepovers, the comfy couches and the feeling she got when her article was finally published. She knows that only true VOXERS will understand her byline.
Raise Your Voice Summer Program 2009
What I created during my first Photoshop workshop. DONT laugh!
Open Mic Night/Poetry Jams — sharing my favorite pastime
Program Intern | August 2009 – May 2010
Staff retreat that I co- planned as a Programming Intern in October 2009
Oh the love for the webcam during monthly Intern Dinners!