Dear Carmen

Dear Carmen,

Exactly four years ago you were lost– just trying to find your away. You weren’t sure of who you were, where you’d be or who you’d become.

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ULM Hawkline performing at convocation in August 2013

It wasn’t the sudden change of scenery from south to northeast Louisiana. It wasn’t even the slight rhythm change of the transition from high school to college. What it was, was the culture shock that you let defeat you.

Yes, you’ve faced challenges that you were able to overcome but don’t forget the tough lessons learned that allowed you to develop into the woman you are today.

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Royal Bum Clothing photo shoot for fall fashion line in October 2014

If only i’d been with you at your lows– the things I would’ve done to either put you at ease or work with you through your hardships.

At times you felt alone, or even worse, trapped. For two years you allowed your identity to bring down your confidence to the point where you weren’t sure who you were anymore.

You steered away from your faith and didn’t focus your eyes on the goals you’d always worked toward to make possible.

You let negativity bring you down. You followed behind falsified friends who drug down to deep, dark places. And you lost sight of your purpose– an education.

If only you’d centered your attention around your future instead of your present– the long road wouldn’t have been so difficult.

Making memories with great people ( March 2016.)

You’ve been burned. You’ve been mistreated. You’ve been judged and even overlooked. Allowing individuals who you thought were “friends” and romantic interests you believed to be “lovers” to shape your personality built you up into a completely different person and spat back the backlash to you in return.

Your social life became more important that your academics. You friends became more important than family. And your passions became more than THE passion– Christ, himself.

Parents at the Blackwell-Barton wedding festivities (December 2015.)

It wasn’t until you allowed your defeat to finally catch up with you– hitting rock bottom–you then realized your changing was vital.

The good thing about the one life we live is that although our days are numbered, everyday is a new beginning.

Two years ago you were reborn. Facing all of your fears head-on, you dedicated yourself to optimism and the change you knew best fit you. You, Carmen Blackwell, commits to the life you knew you deserved.

My advice to the future you is far from what I would’ve prescribed for you in the past.

Receiving the KNOE intern scholarship award funded by the Louisiana Broadcasters Association ( January 2016.)

I see the fire flame behind the passion in your eyes, you’re a woman. You now realize your life has long surpassed child’s play and you’ve only scratched the surface.

Four years have come and gone and here you are. Stand tall my love, you are phenomenal.

Take everything that you’ve absorbed from your experiences. Those that both hurt you and those that only made you stronger. These are the lessons that will only make you greater than you imagined.

Never forget your past. It gave you passion and it gave you drive. But burry it. It is no longer relevant.

My friends and colleagues sharing a kodak moment in the heart of New York City ( March 2016.)

To the future you, realize that you are young with a lot of life left to live. Often times I feel like you’re much too impatient and although you’re willing to do whatever it takes to complete something, always remember quality supersedes quantity.

Honesty and integrity will get you exactly where you want to be in life. You’ve proven to yourself and all those around you what you are capable of.

Boyfriend and I (began dating in October 2014) at his Rays’spring training game (March 2016.)

Create a set of goals for yourself and set out to achieve them with no exceptions. The real world isn’t as cold and frightful as it may seem– keep in mind, “mind over matter.”

As an aspiring multimedia journalist, life will somehow “get in the way” of everything you will dream to come true. Place your faith in Him and keep your head high and your standards even higher.

Christmas 2015 in Wyoming 

No path is an easy one, but if you continue to work hard and strap on all of the life lessons and experiences you’ve gained thus far, the road to achieving your ultimate dream will be much smoother than you’ll expect.

Work hard. Dream big. Love more. Remember to balance your selflessness with your selfishness and remain humble along the way.

You’ve come such a long way, yet you have a long journey ahead. Keep your head up and ALWAYS continue to push forward– you were destined for greatness.

Had to take a selfie! Post-graduation pictures (April 2016.)


And one more thing… Congratulations! You’ve finally done it. Another milestone reached and plenty more in your future to come.


I love you,

Carmen (the new me)



Legends Set Bar Future of Journalism

“In the English language, it all comes down to this: Twenty-six letters, when combined correctly, can create magic. Twenty -six letters form the foundation of a free, informed society.” -John Grogan

All the President’s Men is truer to the craft of journalism than to the art of storytelling, and that’s its problem.

The book and even the movie is an accurate depiction of the journey these  investigative reporters took. As we could expect, and yet the process overwhelms the narrative.

In All the President’s Men, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are forced to make several ethical decisions because of just how much bigger this story was– people’s lives were at risk, people were facing jail time and the story could’ve put a president down from his nation in the blink of an eye.

These men were not only ambitious in seeing this story to its’ rightful end, but they were rookies in the news room. However, the two journalists made history not for their work but how they conducted their work– a rather rare quality found in solid journalism today.

There was something unique about these journalists that I feel is a lost quality found in what defines a journalist as a “journalist.”Through their research, Woodward and Bernstein used the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.

“What the heck is that?”, you ask. Well, it’s the current guide for journalists to use when making judgment calls on their reporting and there are four main concepts journalists usually swear a sort of oath by.

Those codes being; seek the truth and report it, minimize harm (reputational), act independently and take accountability.


“Journalists should: ….— Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing….”

Woodward and Bernstein were a dynamic duo in journalism. The two were adrift in a research– knee deep in evidence, given but an inch of information each step closer that they took. Yet miles left ahead until they covered enough ground to reach the  finish line.

Both Woodward and Bernstein appeared to have no issues with seeking the truth. The code says to be “honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.”

Woodward showed a desire to be honest and fair in his gathering of information but the courageous aspect is exemplified best by Bernstein. Bernstein is extremely persistent with sources, even and perhaps especially when those sources are being difficult or not willing to cooperate.

They gathered a sea of names, dates, telephone numbers, coincidences, lucky breaks, false leads, dogged footwork, denials, evasions, and sometimes even the truth.

I feel this “new generation” of journalism lacks thoroughness. Gaps and loopholes that would’ve better made the story hole are often overlooked because of the laziness in reporting today.

Impatience in meeting deadline, not getting enough (accurate) sources or even twisting a story to one’s own bias are key factors to what has left many with a sour taste for what journalism truly is.


Uncovering thousands of details led up to Watergate and the Nixon resignation, many sources wished to be kept anonymous. Both Woodward and Bernstein built a trusting relationship with their sources which aided them in allowing to get more information.

Good reporting is respecting your sources no matter what. Woodward and Bernstein both used creative tactics to help their sources feel comfortable in allowing their names to be used– now that’s good journalism!

This is an important code of ethics in journalism that really set the bar for the future of journalism. When reporting a story of this magnitude, building trust between you and is imperative.

Reporters have yet to accomplish what Woodward and Bernstien have since the Watergate Scandal was uncovered– they are, in my opinion, the icons of authentic journalism– journalism at its finest.


“Journalists should: …. — Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.”

The stories being published were about a government scandal. While at the beginning neither Woodward nor Bernstein knew the impact their reports would eventually have, each made decisions that would impact lives of people involved.

Both movies and books made after newspaper stories, play up the excitement and ignore the boredom and the waiting.

“— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.”

The journalists were both vigilant and courageous about this point. Those involved were accountable. Those involved in the scandal also happened to be public officials and therefor very powerful men and women.

Once we’ve seen one cycle of investigative reporting, Woodward and Bernstein cracked the first wall separating the break-in from the White House, we understand their method.

“Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.”

Woodward and Bernstein were continually checking each other’s work. They would cross-check sources and information with one another before printing anything. Had either of them made a mistake, both seemed as though they would take the blame for the article.


I feel as though this step is often mistaken in modern-day reporting. Misquoting and not double-checking facts and sources is popular and common.

Although we are able to fix our mistakes through digital journalism, this almost lost quality in journalism is beginning to fade away.

The dynamic due followed the story through until it led closer and closer to an end we already knew.

All of these elements in “All the President’s Men” are to be praised.


Though journalism has evolved in so many ways, the power and place journalism holds in our society is shaped by the future of news– both Woodward and Bernstein set the bar high for what it means to be not a “good journalist”, but a legendary journalist.

Seniors Salute: Goodbye College Life, Hello Real World

Pre-graduation gitters?  So relax, it’s very common. There’s something about earning that diploma that makes things so surreal– it’s life changing, and quite frankly, your career and future especially depend on it.

Graduation for millions of college seniors across the country will begin next week. Thinking about the real world becoming quite the reality mom and dad have threatened us with is nothing shy of scary; however, the most exciting moment of your life yet.

As the days of my collegiate career draw closer to its’ end each day, I can’t help but to reminisce on lessons learned, memories cherished and horrid hardships surpassed.

I thought it’d b neat to give back to those who will be in my very position one day– a graduating senior, on the verge of finally breaching the real world. Though my experiences or my advise may not be expertise, I myself wish I would’ve known what all to expect or had someone tell me what to stipend pay close attention to or what to put behind me and move forward while looking at the bigger picture.

I want to help.

What better way to do that than of that from the tongues of college seniors themselves.

Learning has many dimensions. Understanding how a new environment functions in terms of its expectations and culture sometimes requires more imagination, flexibility, maturity and judgment than working through a course syllabus. This is true particularly but not exclusively in employment situations.


1.) Keep an eye on the future 

Senior year goes by incredibly fast. One minute you’re crunching around in the fall leaves, mystified by the fact that you are the oldest group of students on campus, and the next you’re donning your cap and gown and staring the Real World in the face like a deer in headlights.

It’s important to think about what you see yourself doing after G-day. Research jobs or other opportunities — you have the entire Internet at your fingertips. Search through job descriptions and requirements to get a feel for the kind of opportunity you are qualified for.

Reach out to your school’s alumni asking for advice. Reach out to your professors, talk to your counselors, talk to your friends’ older siblings. Go for informational interviews (but first research how to properly and professionally ask for one!), ask a ton of questions.

Network. Spend time having someone critique your resume and cover letter. Revise your resume and cover letter. Figure out what makes you stand out. Try to connect with someone who has a job you might eventually want, and be a little sponge soaking up information from them.

Senior Mariah Mitchell said she’s anticipating earning her degree in May, but still isn’t sure of her post-graduation plans.

Mariah Mitchell

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Pictured above: Mitchell posing for graduation photos on campus.


Although she too doesn’t have a set plan after graduation, senior Caitlin Jones has her sights set on moving back home to Texas where the job opportunities are abundant.

Jones is focused on pursuing her career and is confident that her degree will guide her where she belongs– no stress needed.

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Pictured above: Jones posing during a photo shoot for her senior pictures.

Jones also said in other words of advise, “don’t stress about GPA but always try to do your best.”

3.) Be a crazy college student first, reflect on how far you’ve come later 

In just a few months, most of the things you do in your spare time/nights out will not be considered socially acceptable. If you don’t care about society’s expectations, there is still the reality that it’s difficult to keep up your college habits while still holding down a job.

So, drink on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or even Sunday if you so desire. Make memories with your friends. Go on a road trip at 2am just because. (But DO NOT do that if you’re drinking). Make ridiculous music videos with your roommates. Smoke weed (if you wanna).

Do all those things that were on your college bucket list but you still hadn’t accomplished. Whether it’s as innocent as biking from one end of campus to another or experiencing some old school tradition you had yet to cross off your list.

Senior Traneshia Stromer said staying focused is important but so is gaining the college experience to the fullest.

“My advise would be to work hard and stay focused, but have fun. College flies by. Meet new people, experience new things, break out of your comfort zone and live life,” said Stormer. Remembering to make time for fun and relaxation should also be a priority.

Lastly, there are many reasons to think about the journey and progression you made in college. Remember to always reflect. College memories are many yet temporary, as I like to say– savor them responsibly!


Other links you may like:

Out with old, in with the new? Print v. Digital

Don’t panic.

As a young journalist myself, i’m willing to bet print isn’t going to undergo any form of “extinction” anytime soon.

However, the drastic decline of sales in print newspapers both domestic and international has proved otherwise in even some of the most successful print publications.

The New Day, fairly new British print publication, is beginning a new trend.  I can sympathize and moreover relate to what this paper is trying to accomplish.

My colleagues and I and aim to achieve a  similar goal in mind  Hawkeye (ULM Campus newspaper.)  The New Day’s platform is simple yet difficult to cultivate– evolving print in competition with the digital new-age.

I can only compare what I know based on my own experiences. I know the Hawkeye, front to back and every blood, sweat and tear that’s poured into designing a weekly tabloid paper– it’s far from easy.

The New Day (like the Hawkeye) is a compilation of local, regional and national top news. It also provides a wide combination of human-interest features, coverage of pop culture, sports, entertainment, health and travel– even advice columns.

Yet the “British Upstart” has taken a chance on something most publications wouldn’t dare. They are strictly print, meaning no website and no app. They do not sell subscriptions and only circulate form newsstands for 70 cents each.

http://www.ulmhawkeyeonline.comIMG_1402 (1)

The Hawkeye, though like the New Day, varies in the digital aspect. ULM’s campus newspaper updates it’s Facebook page as well as the Twitter account weekly and even daily for breaking news.

The Hawkeye staff, much like the New Day, believe in the tradition of print. I’m not sure that it will ever die but I know that I’m not concerned for its’ future.

Dr. Smith, Director of the ULM College of Humanities, said “I believe print became a difficult read for this generation. People began to dismiss traditional papers as the ‘old generation’ and opted out. Instead the switch to ‘digital-only’ has become apart of this society’s culture.”

Sure the convenience of free content online using our mobile phones and other devices is a bonus– some of us couldn’t manage life without it. But what drove people away from the preference of print versus digital?

According to the New York Times, Alison Phillips editor of The New Day, said ” there is still a significant number of people who have the habit in their blood of paying for content.”

Could Philips be referring to the pre-digital generation? Meaning, senior citizens and anyone else opposed to using technology, etc.?

The individuals who are loyal customers to paying for print content are those who prefer the experience of reading offline– hands-on readers, as I like to call it.

As Dr. Smith stated, could it be that print became unappealing and too difficult to follow so society is making the digital switch?

Or blame it on society and deem ourselves “too lazy” to flip through and read a traditional newspaper– “why buy the bulk when I can scroll for free?”

Mark Reedy, Junior Construction Management major said,”I enjoy the Hawkeye because it’s college-friendly. It’s topics  I can read in the headlines but I really enjoy it because the content circles back to me as a student.”

Although Reedy is a fan of picking up a print copy of the campus publication, he also said he likes the digital aspect because he can follow up with campus events and other news through social media.

“I love getting the news to my phone because it’s easier. I’m always on my phone so print switching over to digital makes sense… it’s the world we live in now,” said Reedy.

But even a low-cost newspaper like The New Day needs loyal readers. It’s survival of the fittest. If most people are consuming news on mobile devices this will change news for everyone– print, digital and its’ readers.

But if print is “dying out” as the tabloids claim they are than how has the New Day proved to be substantially successful as a print-only publication?

Perhaps the New Day has survived as long as it has because of it’s well seasoned leadership. Phillips was the former editor of two other major weeklies under Trinity Mirror Publications.

Although the Hawkeye is mainly funded through student fees, the campus paper circulates more traffic than it’s website. But how if the digital age is allegedly taking over?


Not to promote, but the Hawkeye (a lot like the new Day) works towards Philip’s philosophy, “evolving print into more of a visual, photo-driven publication by toying with color, design and typography is what I believe print needs in order to survive in this digital era.”

I stand with Phillips. I too believe with the right strategy and a heck of an experienced staff, there is still room for success in print publishing.

Is the New Day and other print publications like it standing for the rebirth of a “new pint-beginning”  or is this a fated attempt to save what many believe to be a dying tradition?

Out with the old? In with the new?

Print or digital. Journalism will never die.




Interracial relationships still flare up ‘#HateNation’

Scrolling through my Twitter feed about or a day or so ago I was taken back by what I read. A mere cry out to the “Twitter public” on what one of my close friends considered so unfair.

Maddie McCammon, a 22 year old from Canada clearly posted this tweet out of her own anger and frustration of what she sees to be a problem in our society. Being her friend, I reached out to her to confide in her.

Maddie’s culture and upbringing was far different from mine. Being from the south and growing up biracial was far from easy. Maddie on the other hand, came from a nation where race, skin color or any other means of ethnic background are simply irrelevant.

She prefers dating the “tall , dark and handsome” type, where as I’ve always seemed to date white men– dark hair, athletic build and tall (enough so I can wear heels!) Maybe I went off on a bit of a tangent there, but my point being that we all– male and female– regardless of race, have a preference in who we chose to date.

So why should we allow society to dictate who it is that we chose to date? My solution is that we shouldn’t.


American history has always exercised a great hatred for interracial unions. Dated back to the beginning of when this country was founded, some things in our “evolving” society has ironically never changed.

We seem to slowly warm up to change, but new generations shouldn’t have to suffer from the old ways this country doesn’t want to rid of.


After talking with Maddie I felt her frustration– I, too, have gone through the emotional roller coaster of battling with society’s opinion of who I should and shouldn’t be dating.

Just because she is a young, white female doesn’t mean that she can only date white men. She should be able to date black, asian,hispanic or even yellow, green or purple men if she wants to.

Our society has done a fine job of manipulating what is and isn’t accepted, but when it comes to interpersonal relationships and love– the judging has gone too far!


Maddie shouldn’t be profiled by her dating preference and neither should anybody else. Who we chose to be with is a freedom of choice. And freedom, from what I’ve always understood, was supposed to be what this great nation was founded upon.

Sadly, young men and women still receive scrutiny from the public about their dating preference. Before I came to an a point in my life where I accepted my race and grew confident in my dating preference, I was suffered from society’s torment just like Maddie.

As if getting the heat from friends, family or even just random people in public, interracial relationship-racism is very much alive and who knows when the viral disease will ever die out.


As I explained to my friend, it shouldn’t be about the color of the person you’re dating but about how that person treats you and more importantly– if you’re happy.


Classifying young women in Louisiana by if they “f&%$ black guys or not” should be irrelevant and is rather ignorant to me. More or less, is this the way we judge people now a days? Something needs to change, and it’s going to have to start with our generation making a difference.

Kim Kardashian West Breaks the Internet Yet Again

The mother of two showed off her post-pregnancy bod on her social media channels early Monday morning.


Kim Kardashian is well on her way to breaking the Internet—again—after posting a nude selfie just 13 weeks after giving birth to her second child.

The reality star-entrepreneur captioned the pic, in which her modesty (and Instagram’s nudity policy) is preserved by two black censor bars, “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL.”


In this case, however, Internet sleuths have suggested that the full-length photograph, which appears to have been taken in a bathroom mirror, may be from last year, since Kim’s tousled hair is peroxide blonde in the snap. It wouldn’t be the first time that the most famous Kardashian was busted using some clever Photoshop work in her Instagram photos.

Of course, the picture caused controversy and a social media uproar. Some KKW fans in support of her nude picture saying, “You go Kim! Embrace your beautiful post-pregnancy bod! Not all of us can.” And a rather different wrath from the public with comments on the picture like, “All that money and you couldn’t find one item of clothing to cover yourself? You’re a mother for Christ’s sake!”

In defending herself, Kim later used Twitter to clear the air that the photo she’d posted was from a year ago when she went blonde, but still used it to post via Instagram because she felt as though she was in amazing post-pregnancy shape.


Back in August, while she was pregnant with Saint West, Kardashian posted a nude selfieto her social media channels to combat her rampant physique -shaming she was receiving. It was, like all things Kardashian, a shameless cry for attention, but at this point you can’t knock the hustle—Kim knows what she’s doing, and she does it well.

I am a Kardashian fan (everyone I know know that), I’m proud to admit that though I don’t always agree with their actions or morals. However, I can’t seem to wrap my mind around why celebrity women feel it necessary or socially “ethical” to post nude pictures of themselves over the internet for billions of people to view?

I believe our bodies are our sanctuaries. At what point did public nudity over social media become acceptable or the “cool thing” to do? I totally agree with the concept of our right to exercise the first amendment to our freedom of expression– but at what point does it cross the line?


Thank goodness Instagram has nudity censors which allowed for black bars to be placed over her “girly-private parts”, but c’mon Kim. I know you’re beautiful, confident and proud but let’s not forget that you’re a wife and more importantly a mother of two that you’ll have to answer to someday as to why you thought it was socially acceptable to post nude pictures of yourself on the internet and caption them “When you’re like I have nothing to wear. Lol.”

Regardless of being a huge Kardashian fan, I’m trying my best to look at this from an unbiased perspective. Nude or fully clothes, with this photo being posted around the same day as International Women’s Day, was this photo empowering women or degrading them?

Another Kardashian cry for attention or Kim’s right just like anyone else’s to express herself as she desires? What do you think?

Trump Wins Over Swamp State in GOP Primary

Donald J. Trump
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump waves has he arrives for a campaign rally Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Despite some national Republican Party leaders begging their “faithful” not to support Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner continued his hot streak Saturday (March 5) by winning the Louisiana presidential primary.

Might I say, being a native Louisianian, what does our vote say about which candidate our faith lies? Or perhaps an even greater question– what would Donald’s election as President of the United States mean for our country?

The Associated Press along with many other news outlets projected Trump to be the winner almost a half hour after the polls closed.

In my opinion, Trump appears to be more vulnerable in the Southwest and Midwest. He’s taken over Cruz’s supporters now in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa.

The real estate mogul’s meteoric and improbable rise has baffled people and set off a surge of soul-searching within the GOP race. Trump’s excessive use of vulgarity and his controversial immigration policies have incensed some party leaders enough to attempt to derail his bid for the nomination.

But Trump’s victory in Louisiana Saturday could put that goal even farther out of reach.

How many of Louisiana’s 46 delegates will be pledged to Trump or his major rivals, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, at the national convention in Cleveland this summer will depend on a state party formula. No at-large delegates will be awarded to candidates who didn’t capture at least 20 percent of the vote.

Cruz, who campaigned in Mandeville on Friday, finished second to Trump, furthering his argument that he is best positioned to overtake Trump or force a brokered convention in Cleveland.

Trump’s rally in a hangar at Lakefront Airport the night before the polls opened encapsulated the feelings of anger and frustration among mostly white, working- and middle-class voters who have flocked to the billionaire businessman. His hour-long speech was punctuated several times by protesters accusing Trump and his followers of xenophobia and racism.

At one point, an audience member was waving a Mexican flag, and Trump stopped his speech to ask whether that person was “friend or foe.”

Trump has been criticized for his promise to build a massive wall along the Rio Grande and to force Mexico to pay for it.

The next big primary contests are scheduled for March 15, when the delegate-rich, winner-take-all states of Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio will vote.

With Primaries being over, who is our country in favor of? Trump the cocky business confidant or Hilary the slithering “kill them with kindness” serpent?

So far, with Louisiana’s “okay” vote for Trump as our Republican elect, does this mean that Louisiana is in favor of being under his rule– that the swamp state is either in favor of Trump or would just rather him over Hilary Clinton and her shenanigans?