A Publication

I wrote my first “big” philosophy paper this semester and decided that I wanted to publish it. I used ResearchGate in the hopes that I might get some feedback or peer review. If you would like to read it, it is right here.

This is an academic paper, so the writing is dense and meant to educate, not necessarily entertain. If you’re coming from my blog, you will find that it is nothing like what I write there.


Developing Your Portfolio

Well, the semester sure started with a BANG for me. A kidney infection and ten days of recuperation in Charleston have left me feeling stronger and ready to tackle the work I have ahead of me. Just in time for the midterm season too.

A few weeks ago, I received a golden opportunity to have my resume analyzed and torn down by someone who I – and many, many others – consider to be an expert in this field. I immediately jumped on it and just made it into the pool of candidates. A week later, I got a video response in my inbox. I knew my ego would take a major hit, so I didn’t open it for three days.

Fortunately, I was wrong and the person was very honest but also very kind about it. I appreciated the unexpected bits of praise that were thrown around in the response. Before they looked into my resume though, they asked me what job I was aiming for and if I had a portfolio to accompany it.

I have my portfolio on this website, which is a fantastic representation of what I have been able to get done in roughly 2 – 3 years. As great as that portfolio is, it doesn’t zero in on what I want to sell myself as – a marketer. My first question was “is the portfolio I have on my website something I could sell as a ‘marketing portfolio’?” The answer is no, it is not.

When applying for marketing positions, I usually take quite a bit of time to develop a project specifically for the company I am applying for that relates to a hole in their marketing or audience, one of their current goals, or a potential client. The projects vary by company, but that’s the gist of it. So far, it’s been great for me. Even though I didn’t get every position I applied for, I was still building my portfolio. I just didn’t know it.

So, I pulled together what I could into a makeshift file and called it my portfolio. It’s not my strongest work, but the realization that I needed to start compiling my past samples in such a way was perhaps a better achievement. It helped me to understand a few key elements of applications that can be used for almost any position:

  1. Your portfolio should be easy and efficient for the reviewer to look through. Use your best 5 – 10 works depending on how long you’ve been in your career.
  2. Focus on what they are looking for. Really narrow the details of the job posting or description. A custom or even semi-custom portfolio for each application could help tip the scale in your favor.
  3. Building a portfolio takes time. If you’re 18, like me, your portfolio might be small and that’s ok. The best thing you can do is continue to apply for jobs, continue to learn new programs and skills that you can put into use in those applications, and save every last bit of work you do.

Resumes are great, but portfolios are even better. Put yourself in the reviewer’s shoes, figure out how you want to present your abilities, and make it happen. Understanding what control you do have over your applications will help you refine them and make better impressions.



Looking for Perspective

I pushed myself really hard this week both physically and mentally. On my hike today, I was the strongest and weakest I had been since coming home. My legs are strong, my lungs are building back up, and my stamina has never been better. However, I’m sore, it was cold, and I felt the early signs of burnout. I’ve had a similar feeling in regards to my work – more capable than before but in need of rest.

A couple of days ago, I wrote about an awesome supervisor I have. I worked really hard today to try and understand a newsletter platform and build an effective template for their brand. I was struggling with a few of the comments he had made and glossed over some really simple changes that could have saved a lot of time. I felt as though I had wasted his time, so I sent him an email and thanked him for his patience.

It’s not that hard to be non-threatening and non-defensive but still advocate for yourself. He was appreciative of my willingness to continue to tweak little things and reminded me that it was the weekend and I should probably relax. I’ve always found that hours, days, weeks, and months blur while working from home. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if it’s the weekend, because my “office” never closes.

However, rest is necessary. As much as I want to become stronger and get through my hikes faster, as much as I want to become more capable in my work, burnout is real and it can wreak havoc on your productivity. A day off is worth avoiding a week of procrastination. Your future self will thank you. Setting start and end times, taking breaks, and recognizing when you’re running out of steam are necessary practices for a healthy work life.


How to Write a Blog

This website has not been up for very long, but I did (and continue to do) a lot of research on how to make a blog an effective marketing platform. My goal for this website is to build up its audience and content enough that it can generate some revenue for me. To be able to do this, I first needed to nail down the specifics of how to write a blog.

Setting up your site is the easiest and, arguably, most fun part of this whole process. Existing hosts like WordPress, Squarespace, or Blogger have made it cheap and simple for a person with little to no coding experience to create a decent website. They have pre-made themes, navigable customization, and fairly good customer service in case you get hung up. Getting your website out is easy. Making a website that people want to visit is hard.

Now you have to write and you have to learn to write well. Writing well will be different for everyone. It all depends on who you’re writing for. What I consider good writing today is not what my English teacher would give me an A for. It’s all about gauging your audience and tweaking your content as you go along. I have not been the most consistent in the topics or quality of my blogs, but that wasn’t my goal for this month. My goal was to blog every day so I could build up my site before I tried to sell it as anything specific.

That’s the next step for your website: set goals. It’s important to make sure the goals you set benefit your site where it stands right now. If you just made your website, it would be unwise to set a goal of getting $100 in ad revenue in the first month. It’s definitely possible, but it may not be helpful for the longevity of your site. In my opinion, most people feel slightly uncomfortable when looking at an empty website, so I set a goal that would make sure that wouldn’t happen. Although I wasn’t consistent in what I wrote about, I was consistent in that I wrote every day and that made my site look full and active.

Pick something every month that you want to be consistent in. This month, I just wanted to get into the habit of writing every day. Now that I have that habit, I can begin to narrow down what I want to write about. Once that’s narrowed down, I might start thinking about how long I want my blogs to be. When generating content, there will always be new things to work on. In the beginning, there will be a lot of areas that need help, and that can be overwhelming. Focusing on one objective will make the whole process of improving a lot smoother.

Today is the last day of my July goal and I’m very happy to say I was able to achieve it. Writing has easily become one of the best parts of my day and I am glad to be taking such a good habit with me to Montreal. For August, I want to take a good look at what I’m writing and try to be more consistent in the times that I write my blogs. If I leave them to the last second, I’ll just write about the first thing that pops into my head and publish it, usually unedited. This was fine for my July goal, but won’t work for my August goal. The process of transitioning from one aim to another is tricky, but it will get easier with practice. Happy writing.




There is this idea that has been sitting in the back of my mind since I was in 11th grade. I have pondered it, doubted it, tried to reach for it, took too much time to grab it, and got a second chance to achieve it. I love public speaking. No, I don’t love the fear of standing in front of a bunch of strangers and talking for ten minutes, but I love the challenge.

When I was sixteen and trying to decide what to do for my senior project, I considered the idea of applying for TEDx events and giving a speech about my experience in public education. I did do that (you can watch it here), just not at a TED event. It was a fantastic event, so many community members and friends showed up to support me, but it just made me want to achieve my goal of the TED stage that much more.

A few weeks before I graduated, I received a notification from a Facebook page I followed called “TEDx McGill.” I had come across this page while searching for a TED event to submit an application to and decided to follow it because it was relevant to me in two ways – TED and McGill. However, after doing some digging, I couldn’t find any evidence that this event would be returning for a 2018 session, so I gave up hope of participating in it. Low and behold, this independent TED stage was coming back and wanted applications for student speakers.

Long story short, I jumped at the opportunity. I took a month to write my application, edit it, edit it again, have other people edit it, worry if I should even apply, edit it some more, and then finally submit it today. I was nervous as I hit the final button, I wondered who I was up against and if I had said anything worth reading. I’ve never applied for anything like this before, so I couldn’t help but think that my words and justification for wanting to be a part of the event may not be relevant.

The people who run this event know who they’re looking for and that may not be me. I don’t know how many people applied or what they put on their application, but I do know that I am proud of myself for even submitting the damn thing. It has brought me so much anxiety and concern in the past weeks, I just wanted it out of my drive. I’m hopeful, maybe naively so, but I know that 98% of success is just “showing up” or in this case applying for what you want. So many people throw away opportunities because they doubt their abilities. Maybe I still doubt myself from time to time, but I don’t let those thoughts keep me from acting.


Cool People Magnet

The man in the featured photo for this blog is Rosey. He is a “cool people magnet,” as my teacher Beth described him. I attended professional development with him, Dr. Yonty Friesem, and several teachers from all around Northern New Mexico yesterday. It was a privilege to get to see Yonty again, I have a lot of respect for him and his dedication to student-driven media education. During the first two hours, the teachers were working on the curriculum, while I was helping Rosey with some side projects.

A man named Ferdi Serim attended the PD to promote his project Levers, which reminded me a lot of Praxis, an apprenticeship program I am very much interested in. Anyway, Ferdi showed up and started talking about how he had played with Dizzy Gillespie when he was younger. He tried to show us this technique Dizzy taught him called the “human metronome” but we couldn’t find a single video demonstrating it. Ferdi just ended up showing us the method himself, but then Rosey proposed that we shoot a video and see if we can’t get it aired somewhere.

So, for the next hour or so, I was in a separate room helping them film the “human metronome” that Ferdi so desperately wanted to document. It was interesting, I felt like I was on a real film set. Any area with a camera rolling is a real film set, but this felt different. The cameras were placed with care and intent, the background was adjusted until it was perfect, and we shot from two different angles to give a clear view of his hands.

This may sound like a simple set up, and it was, but there was something about how much thought was put into every detail of this two-minute video that made it special to me. Watching all of these cool people create something that seemed so professional in such an informal space was exciting and insightful. So many people shun their passion for jobs such as media production because they don’t have “professional equipment.” Working with Rosey and the UNM Taos Digital Media Arts Lab has taught me that a good producer will work with what they have and still make a phenomenal product.

On my way home, I was wondering if a magnet was the right word to describe Rosey. The word magnet made it seem as though he couldn’t help that those amazing people and opportunities gravitated towards him, they just did. It undermines the incredible amount of work and pride he puts into what he does.

He created a non-profit education initiative called True Kids 1 that helps students develop skills in media and then shows them how they can build a career out of it. He is dedicated to teaching young people that their passions and interests are theirs to conquer. Rosey continues to advocate for young people’s voice to be heard and considered on topics that affect the state, the country, and the world. He believes in empowering the people that will make up the future, not destroying their free thinking.

TK1 is the reason I did my radio shows, worked with Yonty, and moderated panel discussions on a classic film series. I cannot even begin to explain how much Rosey has done for me or how much my confidence has grown since working with him. He trusted me with so many projects and tasks that I never thought I was capable of. He always wanted my help and my participation in events because he knew that I would show up and I would do the work he asked.

Rosey is not a “cool people magnet,” he’s a hard worker, a forward thinker, and a fantastic delegator. I aim to be as ambitious and creative as he is in his work and I am so grateful that I got to work under him as my mentor.

As I write this blog, I am on a flight to Montreal. Rosey has made it clear that my departure from the mountains is not going to be easy on him. It is nice to know I will be missed, but in some ways, I am drawn to the growing group of innovators located in my little valley. McGill seems so far away from the people I worked so hard to connect with. I have promised to always be available for remote work, but I know that can only go so far in a media environment.

Yesterday was not the last time I will see Rosey. I’ll be coming back to the Rockies in August to work with him and TK1 as an organizational manager. That month, however, will be my last hurrah with my team. I’ll miss them, maybe enough to come back. The future is uncertain, but I know it is rich with opportunity.



How to be a DJ

I was 17 when I was offered my first job as a DJ. I had done my senior project on education and how I had made my way through the broken system. The final product prompted one of my mentors to ask me to host a radio show about ed reform. I was an amateur media enthusiast at the time. My only experience with media work was the documentary I had made the previous year. Although that documentary won its category, I couldn’t deny it’s mediocrity. I went into the studio, doubting my ability to act as a mediator and draw ideas out of my peers, but I left feeling elated. Not only was I capable of my job, I was fantastic. Our show was a success and it was the first time I had ever heard young people around me sharing their stories and criticizing the system they were forced into.

My next show was about gun violence and reform. In the wake of the Parkland shooting, we wanted to bring the student voice to light again. We had a lot of contrasting views in the studio, but regardless of the difference in opinion, everyone agreed that the Stoneman Douglass students represented a new wave of young adults who were not only willing to have their voice heard, but demanded it. The recognition that I had experienced with my first radio show began to feed my confidence. I knew I was capable in the technical side of the studio, now I wanted to challenge myself as a leader.

I did my third show today. It was more of a marketing program, but it still meant a lot to me. I am currently working with Dr. Yonty Freisem to promote his Media Production Hive curriculum. True Kids 1 and Dr. Freisem’s curricula fit together perfectly, with both sides focusing on media education, student voice, literacy, and empathy. Our show was truly just an advertisement and informational piece on this effort, but we were still able to converse in a Socratic form. As we finished our discussion on what it meant to be conscious on social media and the importance of teaching students to be digital citizens, I felt more comfortable in the studio than ever before.

So that was it, three shows in and I felt like a real DJ. I would be lying if I said the content of my broadcasts were consistent, but the quality of them are. At the beginning of the show, I talked a little about how important it was for me to be given an opportunity to act professional and operate in a professional setting. My mentor jumped in and told me how he wanted everyone involved in the program (True Kids 1)  to excel as much as I did. Although I appreciate his comments, I can’t say that the quality of excellence I was able to achieve is unique to me.

Why are my achievements seen as rare or uncommon? They’re not. The only difference between myself and every other student in school today is that I was granted the chance to act as a professional in a setting I was interested in. Doing a radio show sounded exciting and new, so I naturally wanted to appear prepared and poised. By just allowing me the opportunity, my mentor had already given me a reason to reach for a higher level of quality. I wanted to prove that nothing stood in my way of doing the best job possible. I wasn’t going to allow my age or my education dictate what kind of professional environment I did well in. I was going to let my passion, my drive, and my happiness tell me where I should place my efforts.

From what I’ve seen, a lot of students don’t feel as though they deserve a chance similar to the one I was given. Public education has a funny way of crushing a young person’s self-esteem and making them disassociate from the “adult” world. However, when given the opportunity to integrate themselves into a world of skill and experience, they are so grateful and excited that they will strive to be their best without any outside force.

How to be a DJ is the same thing as how to have a job you enjoy. Every student, every person who is willing to show how hard they can work is deserving of an opportunity to act on that will.

However, being deserving of an opportunity doesn’t mean it will come along by chance. Being young is difficult, people will automatically assume you are less capable, but that just means they will be even more pleasantly surprised when you prove your worth. Get yourself that opportunity, network, make friends, ask for a chance, do your research, always work harder than you did yesterday, and show them the value they don’t expect. We can make excuses about things we cannot control, but achieving excellence is not about focusing on the obstacles, it’s about looking for the solutions.