by Mohammad Samra / Chicago Editor
Hey, Prof. Fountain,
Hope all is well.
I haven’t really had the chance to properly thank you for everything you’ve done for me in the last three years I’ve known you.
Your Media Writing class introduced me to a side of journalism I never paid close attention to. I wanted to be a sports journalist until I got to your class — you introduced me to a form of journalism that truly changes lives.
Before meeting you, I severely lacked confidence in myself and my ability to write. When I opened your email containing my very first article and saw a red “97” at the top, I felt a joy and enthusiasm I hadn’t yet experienced while at Roosevelt. Someone in the industry thought my piece was “A” material.
I already liked journalism when I started college, but you made me love it.
Hearing your journalistic sermons made it less daunting to stay up all night and work on your assignments — putting forth the effort is much easier when someone is so passionate about what they teach.
You went the extra mile and decided your students needed real-world experience. So, you took a group of us on a 12-hour bus ride to Washington D.C. to report on the National Rally to End Gun Violence. I stood with my camera in hand and relentlessly recorded everything around me. That day taught me the importance of social justice, but it also reassured me that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Working as your intern during the initial stages of the “Unforgotten” project taught me the importance of storytelling. We weren’t telling stories of death, but portraits of life. It inspired me to write my “By the numbers” piece, which you featured in your column space at the Chicago Sun-Times.
That same piece was the first time I’ve seen my work so heavily edited. It was a difficult sight to see, but it was a necessary one. Watching it go from a first draft on my SurfacePro to a completed piece resting on page 31 of The Sun-Times helped me to fully embrace the editing process — no matter how tedious it can be.
Without your guidance, I wouldn’t be as successful as I’ve been at Roosevelt. You’re responsible for most of the content on my resume. With each award I’ve been presented came a heartfelt letter of recommendation from you explaining why I was the best fit for whatever I was receiving.
You played a role in Roosevelt choosing me as one of this year’s commencement speakers. I’ll represent many who are close to me on May 7, but I’ll stand at the podium representing every quality you’ve instilled into me throughout my college experience. You convinced me that my story was worth telling.
As I prepare to graduate, I find myself reminiscing about the various conversations we had in AUD 362 or in your office on the third floor of the Auditorium Building. Whether I was asking you if I had what it took to make it in journalism, or pitching you a unique article idea, you gave me your undivided attention every single time.
Part of me will miss seeing you stride into class in a full tuxedo at 11 a.m. while I chug my first Starbucks iced coffee of the day. However, the other half of me is grateful I’ll be able to begin my professional career with such an amazing ally at my side.
This isn’t the end, it’s just the end of the first chapter.