Each fall at VOX’s Homecoming event, we honor the latest inductees into the VOX Hall of Fame. This year we are excited to celebrate Pete Corson (pictured above with VOX alum Tru Spann). Pete is an Audience Specialist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s RE:Race team. He has been with the AJC since 1998 and has worked for the paper’s websites since 2008. He lives with his wife and six-year-old daughter in Druid Hills. Read on to learn more about Pete’s time at VOX.
When did you start volunteering at VOX?
During the summer of 1999, a colleague of mine was rounding up journalists in the AJC newsroom to be mentors for VOX’s summer program. I did that for two years before I became a regular volunteer on the weekends. I thought this would be a good way to nurture the next generation of journalists, but I quickly figured out that was only part of the mission. I actually spent more time listening to the teens and getting to know the teens, and it wasn’t just a journalism effort. As a teenager and during the early days of my career, I didn’t have any professional mentors. I didn’t really have anyone who had my back and who I could emulate. So I wanted to share anything I knew that could help a VOX teen.
What’s your favorite memory from VOX during your time as a volunteer?
I have fond memories of the old VOX locations. I remember when VOX was in one tiny room and then when it moved to the back of the Tabernacle. I started working VOX into my Saturday routine so I was there on a lot of weekends, that was my routine for a long time. My favorite memories are of seeing the teens gain skills as they stayed with the program and the way they transformed over the years.
What’s a memorable article you supported as a story coach?
The one that I am most often associated with is the article that Ayan Hussein wrote during the 2005 summer program at VOX about her experience with female genital mutilation. It ran in the AJC that summer. It was a life-changing event for her to publish that article in the AJC. (Ayan is pictured here in the old VOX office after becoming a Gates Scholar).
The articles where teens are talking about the obstacles they have to get over, or life-changing revelations they’ve had, or the confidence they’ve found – those have left a mark on me.
Why is VOX important for teens?
VOX is unique in that it provides a forum for teens to raise their voices. There have been similar programs out there that haven’t lasted the test of time. VOX is special because teens get to express what they want to say and learn how to get their ideas out there and how to structure their thoughts in such a way that they can share them with the community.
At this age, teens often have an idea of where they want to go but not always how to get there and what steps come in between. VOX helps bridge that gap and supports teens in developing a portfolio and getting their name out there.
Why is VOX important for the entire community to support, especially adult media professionals?
Because we’ve been there. Giving back and paying it forward is always important. But more importantly, every community needs to hear what’s on teens’ minds. There should be more platforms doing this. A lot of times, when media outlets are writing an article focused on teens, they just come in and get some quotes and it’s never really a partnership. VOX provides a platform that every community needs. It’s rare to actually hear from teens themselves through a forum that they control, where they get to share what’s on their minds and how they see the world.
What three words would you use to describe VOX?
Loud, brave, nutritious
Why is VOX necessary?
VOX nurtures teens and introduces us to the next generation of leaders and community voices. It’s one of the most forward looking community groups that Atlanta has. In a broader sense it’s necessary because this is a group that by its very nature is thinking about the future and we should all be asking ourselves what we want the future to look like. By looking at the VOX teens, we can see where our community is going.
Join us on Saturday, October 21 as we celebrate Pete at our 2017 Homecoming event! Details and tickets available here.