Each summer at our First Draft event, we celebrate the winner of the Kelly-Shah Alumni Award! We are excited to announce that Teyonna Ridgeway is the 2017 recipient. She is pictured above with fellow VOX teens Deontez Wimbley, Veronica Coates, and Tracy Jackson. Read on as Teyonna talks about her time at VOX and why the organization is so important.
When and why did you join VOX?
I joined VOX the second semester of my junior year of high school. One of my classmates at Miller Grove High School was involved with VOX and she encouraged me to join the Girls Group. That summer, I did Raise Your Voice (the predecessor to VOX Media Cafe). I knew I wanted to do something in communications, but didn’t know what, and I loved to write – I was really confident in my writing. VOX exposed me to different things within the communications field – I thought you could only do broadcast or print journalism but VOX helped me find something that was a better fit for me. My senior year, I was a program intern and a Girls Group facilitator.
What’s your favorite VOX memory?
Chernail Arnold and I planned an off-site team-building day for all the teens at a local park in Atlanta. That was the first big event that I was responsible for planning and I was really proud of it!
What are you up to now?
I do social media and community management at Newell Brands for their fishing and outdoor recreation brands. I didn’t go a traditional journalism route, but VOX gave me a foundation to pursue public relations. I majored in journalism at Howard, with a concentration in public relations. Because of my experience at VOX, I was already really familiar with what we were talking about in class. I already done reporting, writing and editing.
I am also one of the voices behind Becoming Brilliance, a lifestyle blog for millennial women that seeks to help them live their best lives – we focus on topics like first jobs out of college, travel, relationships, and networking.
Why is VOX important for teens?
VOX gives you a voice and makes you feel like your voices and thoughts matter. VOX is really for anybody and is an opportunity for people to step up and voice their opinions. Our VOX ground rule “Step Up Step Back” reminds everyone that their opinions matter. If you’re shy and reserved, VOX provides a venue for you to share. VOX is an important creative space and I don’t want that to be lost, especially because some schools have to take out art and music. VOX helps you to stay abreast of what’s going on in the world and your city and how it impacts you as a teen. For example, during my senior year at VOX, we were talking about transportation and that’s the first time I heard about the Atlanta BeltLine.
What three words would you use to describe VOX?
Creative, collaborative and a family. It takes a village to make the VOX newspaper and produce all the things we create. I still keep in touch with some of the people from VOX and I never feel like an outsider when I go back.