VOX Roles: 2004 – 13, Spelling Bee Judge, Volunteer, Board member, Board Chair, Advisory Board Chair
Today: Atlanta; Cox Chair in Journalism at Emory, Writer
I joined VOX because: As managing editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the time, my encounters with students interested in inquisitive, critical thinking, in writing and in creative expression was magnetic and drew me closer and closer to the organization, its mission and, most importantly, its people.
My favorite VOX memory is: In 2008, when The Atlanta Women’s Foundation named 17-year-old VOX writer Octavia Fugerson winner of the Sue Wieland Embracing Possibility Award. This was the first time the award had gone to someone other than an adult. This was an extraordinary moment, but for reasons greater than the $10,000 that went to VOX and the laptop that went to college-bound Octavia. It represented the emergence of a young woman who, by writing poetry and a personal feature story in VOX about her loving foster mother, had found not only a sense of pride, but also her courage and her voice. Octavia explained to the foundation that when a judge was preparing to order that she return to her birth mother, a move Octavia knew would eclipse her hard-earned trajectory, she relied on the research and writing skills she learned at VOX to persuade the judge to leave her with her foster mother. Editor’s Note: Octavia is now pursuing her PhD at the University of Georgia.
VOX’s impact on me: VOX has impacted my life by engaging me not just with the greater Atlanta community, but with a specific segment of the community, teens, who remain terribly misunderstood, under-appreciated and underestimated. I am grateful beyond words (not usual for me) for the mentoring I have received from VOX teens. And I never leave my encounters with VOX teens without feeling greater hope for the future than I had.