By: Lauren Kennedy, Photography Director
If there is one thing I have figured out while navigating the American school system, it’s that having an exemplary teacher makes all the difference in the world. From a young age, I seemed to remain under the radar while making my way through every grade. I was average- I didn’t have any major struggles, though, I wasn’t noteworthy in any specific subject either. In my experience, the attention seemed to be focused on those two types of students. That being said, when I did have a strong connection with a teacher, it made it that much more special.
My time at the University of Southern Maine has been wonderful. I have made so many connections, both professional and personal. Two teachers in particular have made such a strong impact on me, that they deserve much more praise than I could ever possibly give them. Their knowledge of storytelling has impacted me greatly. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from them.
After transferring from Southern Maine Community College to USM, I was thoroughly confused with exactly what classes I needed to take in order to complete my degree. In a moment of sheer frustration, I asked my advisor to just “sign me up for whatever counted!” I ended up taking a radio production class with Jessica Lockhart. I had absolutely no interest in radio, yet I believe it was one of the best decisions I have made within my college career.
Jessica Lockhart is not only an audio production professor for the media studies
department, but in addition, she is the WMPG program director. Her extensive background has earned her a great amount of recognition. As stated on the WMPG website, “Jessica is an award winning radio producer including a 2015 Finalist for Audie Awards – Original Programming category. Transparent Behind the Scenes Audible National Endowment Arts Fellowship. Other productions include radio features that have aired on Maine Public Radio, Prime Time Radio, The Weather Notebook and Sound Health. She has also been an audio producer and editor from 2007-2016 of a weekly podcast for Audible.com and daily podcast audiobook reviews for AudioFile Magazine. Jessica is the national producer for the annual Homelessness Marathon.” She shares this knowledge with her students, often preparing them for real life situations within the audio world.
Jessica has taught my peers and I many useful technical skills; in class we recorded a full 45 minute radio show, combining various methods of recording live audio tracks. We learned the ins and outs of Hindenburg and Adobe Audition- two primary versions of software used in the production world and so much more. Although, what I am the most appreciative of, is how Jessica taught me to use my voice to tell stories. As a photojournalist, my primary method of communicating my thoughts is through photographs I take. I now have a new appreciation of spoken text as a way of journalism. Both her class and her guidance gave me the confidence to approach a brand new and potentially intimidating subject and thrive while learning it.
During my second semester, I was finally able to take photojournalism taught by Professor Fred Field. Little did I know, this class would lead to a meaningful mentorship which was a real defining moment within my life. Fred Field, also has a very impressive background. In 1980, he graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and has been a photojournalist ever since. He has shot thousands of assignments all across America. Locally, his work can be seen in newspapers such as the Boston Globe and the Portland Press Herald. Fred has also had his work published internationally, as he states, “My work has appeared in numerous magazines including: Time, People, Parade, Sports Illustrated, CFO, Golf Digest, US News & World Report, Newsweek Japan, Time for Kids, and dozens of newspapers throughout the world.”
As a professor, Fred is very informative, yet humble. He is thorough with his critiquing of your work and goes the extra mile in order to see his students succeed. This past semester, I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to do a one on one independent study with Fred as my mentor. The goals he set for me, pushed me out of my comfort zone, and forced me to think as a photojournalist. Once a month, Fred would take the time to sit down with me and critique every single one of my photos. Thus, creating a cohesive portfolio by the end of the semester. I am very appreciative for his constant support and advice he has given me.
I am thankful for the wisdom both Jessica and Fred have given me. I am thankful they both use the art of storytelling to inspire the minds of the people they come in contact with everyday, and I am thankful to have been their student. As someone who often times felt inadequate, it is so rewarding to have a teacher who believes in your ability and wants nothing more than to see you succeed.