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Ali Sumner
Western Kentucky University
Kentucky Press Association

It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind.

As a freshman journalism student at Western Kentucky University, the sky was the limit. I knew journalism was it for me. I wanted to be the reporter, the writer, the photographer – I wanted it all.

And then that changed last summer.

After a summer of promoting, pushing and Facebook profile-making at a public relations internship with the Kentucky State Fair, all I wanted to be was a PR practitioner. Sure, I got to write and take pictures – but it was fun and a lot less stressful. And I got to eat corn dogs and fried snickers. 

And then that changed last fall.

After mentoring a group of freshmen in a University Experience class, and then teaching the class completely, when the pregnant teacher went into labor early – I knew all I wanted to be was a teacher.

As a senior, one semester away from graduating with a journalism degree – I wanted to change my mind, but didn’t know how. I knew I could go to graduate school and get a teaching certificate, but I wouldn’t find out if I’d been accepted until late spring.

So me, being the girl who always packs too much on vacation and actually enjoys the headache-inducing course registration process, wanted to have a plan before my graduation date.

So I applied to grad school and in the same day applied for the KPA summer internships. I wasn’t sure what my future was going to look like at that point, but I knew I wanted to have a plan.

After spending almost 10 weeks in Frankfort at the KPA’s central office – I’m so glad I wanted to have a plan.

I started up social networking sites for KPA and helped our in-house technology guru set up KPA’s brand new website – which was no easy feat.

I know words and writing, but the garbled code lingo was completely foreign to me. But after a summer of taking a crack at html, php and css, I feel so much more comfortable with website creation – although I don’t claim to be a whiz.

This experience has been eye opening. My colleagues are from vast backgrounds: former publishers, editors and reporters. Some are journalists, others are sales people and others keep track of funds and all the newspapers across the state. It’s impressive to see an office with just 11 people cater to so many Kentucky newspapers and newspaper-related businesses.

After attending a KPA board meeting near the end of my internship, I learned that a press association is a vital part of the newspaper field and the staff at KPA has provided me with a great experience.

But, I haven’t changed my mind this time. As much as this opportunity has taught me so much about the newspaper and technology worlds – I’m ready to do some teaching of my own. Although I’m not continuing on in the journalism field per se, I’m holding on to as much of it as possible. When I become an English teacher, I hope to teach journalism classes, such as yearbook and newspaper. And of course, my students will have to participate in KPA’s high school contest and convention through the Kentucky High School Journalism Association.

I certainly haven’t shied away from the world of journalism – but instead, my passion has narrowed. I want to share with the next generation why journalism is such a vital part of our society.