Name: Alissa Smith
College newspaper: Central Florida Future (Orlando, Florida)
Where I am now: News Associate at the Associated Press
On March 30, 2015, the student newspaper at the University of Central Florida changed my life. It’s a day I still celebrate as the anniversary of my first published piece.
The Central Florida Future gave me so much of what I have today: my support system, my career, my hobbies. The Future ignited a passion in me that even I find tiring. I had the chance to ask questions of anyone and the ability to write about; it was a turning point. I majored in business management and entrepreneurship. I realized too late in my college career that my real passion lied in journalism, and I couldn’t afford to change my major. Without the Future, I wouldn’t have had the clips or experience to become a reporter.
On Nov. 29, 2015, I became the Future’s news editor and walked into our small office, decorated with decades of inside jokes and pictures of people I’d never meet but who understood me to my core.
Over the next nine months, I’d cover everything from Pulse and local politics to human trafficking and human interest pieces. I met amazing people inside and outside of the newsroom that made me a better person and writer.
The Future ceased publication after nearly 50 years on Aug. 4, 2016. It broke my heart. The staff poured so much of themselves into that paper. We hated it for the low pay, late nights, breaking news in the middle of classes — but we loved it for all the same reasons.
I owe the Future — and my editors Marina Guerges, Caroline Glenn and Bernard Wilchusky — for where I am today.
I owe the entire life I’ve built to my student paper, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.