When I heard that I had been accepted into the Chips Quinn Scholars program for the summer of 2008, I was ecstatic and nervous. I was a young buck, a new graduate with an uncertain future, a soul still looking for his identity. It didn’t take me long to enjoy myself at the Freedom Forum.
I had never been to Washington, D.C., or the famous Newseum. I remember being awestruck as I took in the surroundings. Then I began to meet people who would become lifelong friends.
The training sessions were thorough and eye-opening. Learning how to work with video was amazing and something I had always wanted to do. Learning these and other skills helped me to understand my journalistic ability better and furthered my success.
A few training sessions and about 15 water bottles later, I headed to The Tennessean in Nashville to begin my internship as a reporter. I also became a photographer. The funniest story assigned to me was that of an elderly man making a citizen’s arrest of someone who parked in a handicapped spot. However, all the sources had disappeared by the time I arrived.
I enjoyed Nashville and learning more about the country music side of the nation. Aside from the muffler falling from my car and having my radio stolen at a hotel, I had fun in the home of the NHL’s Predators.
I’m not currently working in the newspaper industry — the allure of having my own photography business was hard to ignore – but the Chips Quinn experience was one I loved and would do again in a heartbeat.
It helped to shape me into a responsible adult and to learn that every story has two sides. I’m proud of the program for growing bigger and better. Thank you, Chips Quinn, for making me a better man.
Darryl D. Smith is a commercial photographer based in Monroe, La.