How my journalism degree helped me start my own business

How my journalism degree helped me start my own business

For many of us stepping foot on Samford’s campus for the first time, we weren’t sure what we wanted to major in, but we had a good grasp on things we were and weren’t passionate about. All I had to go off of was that I absolutely loved being on my high school’s award-winning yearbook staff—the deadlines, the photographs, the design, the finished product—I loved it all! With those little facts, I decided to meet with Bernie on one of my first campus visits. As they say, the rest is history…

The next four years, I couldn’t get enough of my JMC classes. As I reflect back on my time at Samford, I am amazed at how well-rounded the program was for its size. Not only did we research and write, but we photographed, videotaped and packaged stories. That JMC 300 class was like drinking from a fire hydrant, but I honestly cannot imagine learning any other way. Bernie, Dr. Jones, Dr. C. and Dr. Williams challenged us to be multi-skilled and fully capable. Even if we chose the print route (raising my hand), it was imperative to know how to work your way around a camera, both still and video. 

It was that well-rounded mentality that helped me get certain jobs when I graduated. I left Samford prepared to establish an online presence for a company who wasn’t quite sure they were ready to go “online,” juggle phone calls from media outlets and design eye-catching documents (daily) for a corporate organization and their clients. 

Designing things with colors and words has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember—from yearbook to Exodus magazine and everything in between. With a tool belt full of skills and a head full of knowledge gleaned from the “Mac Lab” and the rest of the University Center Annex, I created 521 Designs about a month after graduation. 521 Designs was founded as an alternative to “big box” retailers, average designs and subpar service from smaller online retailers. 

Nearly six years later, I have been able to apply those JMC skills as I interact with my clients and provide a full-service, design to print, custom design experience that is uniquely tailored to each and every occasion and celebration in my clients’ lives. Oh, what a joy it is when someone welcomes you into their lives and lets you play a small role in their celebrations. It is really just storytelling through a different lens. 

I would not be where I am today without the encouragement, toughness, and detailed education from Bernie, Dr. Jones, Dr. C. and Dr. Williams. For that, I am forever thankful.  

Originally written as an alumni spotlight feature for the Samford University Journalism Department.