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29 Sep

I did not do this alone

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Next week, I have the honor and privilege to speak to some journalism students at Cal State University, Northridge. They’ve asked me to talk about Web journalism and my career.

NOTE: This is where the journalism stops in this post.

I have to get this out… I don’t know if it’s inappropriate… or TMI… or too whatever… but here goes.

In my life and in my career, I’ve been incredibly blessed. When I stop and think about my roots, my parents, my support network… and where I currently am… a professor… a professor at USC, such a prestigious institution… it is… amazing.

But I did not do this alone.

I get reminders of that all the time… one hit me the first time I walked into this great campus’ food court. And it hit me again realizing that I am going to speak to students at CSUN.

I’m fighting back tears as I type this.

You see… at one point, my mom worked at a pizza joint on the CSUN campus to get by. I had completely forgotten about it until I was ordering food on campus and was speaking in Spanish to the person taking my order.

In a flash I remembered visiting my mom and talking to her co-workers – Latinos also trying to scrap a living. I remember them being supportive of my education and wishing me the best, as they gave me a free slice of pepperoni.

They, like my mom, were struggling so I wouldn’t have to.

I got back to my office and let the overwhelming emotion flow over me. It was intense… my mom’s hard work put her son on the other side of that counter. Not as a student, but as a professor.

I cried like a baby, y’all.

I grew up a few blocks from CSUN. My parents are perfect examples of the American Dream… the good and the bad.

My dad has been running an auto repair shop for more than 30 years. (Y’all, give him your business because like every small business, he needs your support.)

There were times in my life where we had money… lots of it. And there were times in my life where we had none… a whole lot of nada.

But all that struggle… all their sacrifices… put me here. And put a lot of responsibility on my shoulders… one of the many reasons why I got into journalism.

Man, so many different people have done things for me… some things they could never have imagined would have such impact on me. Organizations like NAHJ, CCNMA, ASNE and others. Some institutions like CIIJ, SFSU, LA Pierce Community College.

I am soooooo blessed.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… this is cheesy. Okay, this is a damn cliché. But it’s my reality, y’all. And one I don’t take lightly… especially when I see my toddler growing. He’s going to know my parents’, mi gentes’ and my struggle to advance him.

Because he too, isn’t going to do it alone.

Um…. personal post over. Hopefully this wasn’t too awkward.

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  1. Stephanie
    October 17th, 2010 at 20:57 | #1

    This wasn’t awkward at all. I think students that grow up going to prestigious universities, like myself, forget how many generations it took to get us there. It’s nice to remember though.

  2. January 11th, 2011 at 05:54 | #2

    Hey, Robert. Thanks for the post.

    You’re making your mom and dad proud. You’re an example to those who come after you – especially your son.

    Keep up the good work.

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