Better to burn out than to fade away
UB student Ashley Inkumsah finds her voice and identity four years later
It was the second semester of my freshman year.
I was lazily ensconced in bed with my ex jamming to Ray LaMontagne when he asked me where I saw myself in 10 years.
“I’ve wanted to be a journalist since I was 14 years old,” I said.
“Why aren’t you writing for The Spectrum?” he said.
All of my friends constantly told me to write for The Spectrum all along but I always brushed it off saying “maybe one day,” but that night something clicked.
When I went back to my dorm the next day, I sent our then-editor in chief an email with a writing sample asking to join the paperand the rest was history as they say.
I had a rough start. I got 50’s and 60’s on my first couple of articles as a staff writer and questioned if I should pursue a career in journalism after all. I wanted to change my major, lock myself in a room, rock to-and-fro and listen to Radiohead on repeat. I thought I had no future in writing.
My freshman year, these were my priorities: who I was dating, where the best frat party was and where the best selfie lighting was.
And now four years later I’m the senior news editor for The Spectrum. I’ve interviewed a former U.S. Attorney General. I’ve raised awareness about causes I care about like LGBT issues and race relations.
Things started to come full circle for me when I went to the Apple Store last week and an employee recognized my name from the paper and said she reads all of my articles. When people recognize my name and say they’ve felt something from my articles I feel proud and I feel humbled.
But I couldn’t have done it alone.
Jody Biehl: you are an inspiration. It’s difficult to convey in words how much I appreciate and respect you pushing me to be a better journalist. You have a family, a husband, children and a mortgage and yet you devote so much time and energy to push us to be the best student journalists that we can be.
Once upon a time, my heart raced every time I stepped foot in 132 Student Union because I was terrified you would shred my articles to pieces. And now in my senior year, I’ve yearned for your advice, guidance and wisdom. Every time I write I an article I make sure to steer clear of word choices like “is currently.” I make my sentences short. Dramatic. And impactful. I try not to sound like a press release and I ask myself “What would Jody say?” over and over again.
Working alongside you has been an honor. I couldn’t have grown to be the journalist I am today without you. I’m excited to see how the remaining and incoming Spectrum staff will be utterly terrified of you then eventually learn that Jody knows best.
Hannah: my right hand woman. The Woodward to my Bernstein. My fellow vegetarian sparkly princess. The girl who can’t tell the difference between Jared Leto and Jay Leno. I love you. For all our long night and heated debates about bananas, you’re the best partner a girl could ask for.
Gabi: My #girlboss. You showed the world that girls like us with tan skin can be bossy and beautiful.
To the other the fabulous people I’ve worked with this year on the news desk like Sarah, my Irish ginger unicorn, Maddy, my feminist warrior and Pierce mygraphic guru. I’m excited to see you guys continue the legacy of The Spectrum’s best desk.
I’ve come a long way for a (faux) blonde girl from New York and I’m not nearly finished yet. I can’t say I’ll miss Buffalo’s deplorable temperatures but I’ll always miss the memories I made here.
Ashley Inkumsah is the co-senior news editor and can be reached at email@example.com.