In this course, we explored the many facets of multimedia storytelling: podcasts, documentaries, broadcasts, photojournalism, written journalism, and scriptwriting for audio. Throughout this class, I had the unique opportunity to interview people around Memphis and strengthen my skills in editing, writing, and talking to people. Please see my work below!
Shaking Up Education; Cottage School Style Homeschooling
Written by Oakley Weddle
Anchor Academy, a cottage school tutorial, is solving a worried parent’s problem amidst a global pandemic and cultural frenzy.
Kristina Warren, an experienced educational instructor specializing in mental disabilities and special needs, said that the cottage school style of schooling is the way of the future.
“A cottage school is a small informal school or tutorial that generally meets in a home, one to two days a week – sometimes more – and covers most or all of the basics needed each week,” Warren said. “…sending home assignments to be completed by the students the other days.”
In Anchor Academy’s case, they are an established program that began in 2017 with a mission in mind to provide a unique, invaluable, and community-based option for parents looking to homeschool their children.
Students participate in unorthodox extracurriculars ranging from cooking, theatre, speech, leadership, entrepreneurship, Spanish, and brain games. Warren commented that the program’s goal is to offer a holistic curriculum to shape the mind and hearts of its students.
While Anchor Academy offers two days a week to its families, parents are still hesitant to sign on the dotted line.
“It’s a big commitment,” Warren said regarding the decision to homeschool or not. “However, it really brings families closer together and gives students who need more individual attention the safe space to explore.”
Warren commented that being a parent of a homeschooler is a hard job. Her friend and fellow instructor, Kristen Horlings, advocate for the homeschooling/cottage school style and continually display their benefits.
“One of the main reasons is getting to be there with my kids. I think back to when they were little, and they were taking their first steps and saying their first words and doing things for the first time; I was able to be there for that.” Horlings said. “…to be able to see your kid learn something or do something for the first time and see the joy and pride on their faces is something incredible.”
According to both Warren and Horlings, another significant benefit of homeschooling is the freedom of picking what is best for your child. Horlings recounted when she felt she could push her children, pull back, or put down the books for a nature walk. She states that homeschoolers can find learning in many different ways compared to the traditional way of learning in schools.
Warren said that many families are choosing this option amidst the pandemic and as schools become increasingly unsafe.
“More importantly, many families are opting into homeschooling because they don’t want to miss the moments with their kids,” Warren said.
“The days are long, but the years are short,” Horlings said. “That is so so true. The years that I’ve had with my kids have flown by so quickly and I don’t know how it has happened. But what I do know is that I will ever regret spending this time with my children.”
tenacious: Heroic Stories from cancer survivors
Written by Oakley Weddle
Take a Risk for Reward
Written by Oakley Weddle
Claudia and David Hurst-Vasquez are taking professional risks to succeed amidst a rollercoaster of financial ups and downs. But a strong work ethic from their dining room table has kept this Memphis couple afloat. However, the Hurst-Vasquez’s are no strangers to remote work.
Claudia, an in-class and online Spanish instructor for elementary-aged kids, has adapted swimmingly amidst this global pandemic. After all, she has been doing this for eleven years.
While David, entrepreneur, and manager of his staffing agency, doesn’t have as many years under his belt as his wife, his fierce drive and ambition are bar none.
The trials, tribulations, and triumphs of being your boss are rich and complex in nature; however, this couple has navigated the choppy waters with strides.
“So definitely, there’s a risk. COVID showed us that, you know. But I think we’ve both been very good with our finances, and we’re very good at saving. We have our little backup plan.” Claudia said. “So, I guess we know we both know it can affect us, but we’re not too stressed because we’re kind of prepared for it just in case.”
Both entrepreneurs did this all on their own. They didn’t rely on bank loans or investors, and they risked it all to be able to do what they love.
“We self-funded our business, financially speaking,” David said. “We didn’t get any loans, anything like that, so we were able to turn around the money.”
Claudia wishes to tell up-and-coming entrepreneurs to go for it, while David has another piece of advice to offer.
My advice would be that…[you should] follow something they feel they love, and you have passion for it.” David said. “Not doing something that will make you money, cause eventually we’ll catch you, and you’re not going to be happy.”
The Anti-Difference Maker: Chris Yancy, Cybersecurity Specialist
Written by Oakley Weddle
Cybersecurity specialist Chris Yancy is educating businesses across Memphis, TN., through proactive awareness and protective anti-difference in the areas of phishing emails, ransomware, and hackers.
Yancy has been in education for nearly twenty years. Working at the Shelby County school system as a technical advisor, he garnered a love for teaching. He commented that even though he loved working there, he desires to help local businesses stay safe amidst this tumultuous time.
“Coronavirus has changed the way everyone works, forever,” Yancy said.
In 2020 alone, 30 billion data records were hacked and stolen by cybercriminals. That number is more than the past fifteen years combined.
“We’re talking anything from a social security number to a driver’s license, to a births certificate, and all the way to a full medical health record,” Yancy said.
Yancy stated that, especially in the business world, you’d expect COVID-19 to slow things down; however, it has ramped up in the worst way with cybercriminals.
According to Yancy, Phishing scams is the most popular form of malware for hackers.
Fortunately, Yancy now works at a technology and security company called ProTech Services Group, Inc., headquartered in Memphis, TN. There, he is the Security and Solutions Advisor. His job is to educate businesses, train employees on essential prevention software, and run Managed Phishing email campaigns.
Managed Phishing is a simulated service that Yancy executes for businesses. Through emails, it gives the executive a chance to see what employees are clicking on malicious links. Yancy commented that business owners are continually shocked that the most significant threat posed to their company are the employees themselves.
“They always think, ‘Oh, it’s not going to happen to me.’ but the thing is, it’s happened to plenty of people, right here in the Memphis area!” Yancy said. “It’s not a matter of if; it’s always a matter of when.”
Additionally, Yancy also deals with crisis response. After a company makes a misstep, Yancy is called to clean up the digital mess. Although, his entire job is to avoid such a situation.
Through proactive measures, security awareness training, and expert advice, Chris Yancy makes a difference in the Memphis community by being an anti-disruptor.
CUTLINE: Yancy, cybersecurity specialist, poses for the camera in his “signature blue” as he calls it.
CUTLINE: Memphis, TN. Company, ProTech Services Group, Inc. returns to the office for one of the first times since March 2020; the beginning of the pandemic.
CUTLINE: Yancy and his co-workers having a meeting discussing a client’s network issues.
CUTLINE: Other than Yancy, ProTech has a whole network operations center (NOC) that serves their customer’s 24/7 problems.
CUTLINE: After a hard day’s work, Yancy and his co-workers enjoy grub from a local food truck.
Ambition in a Brutal World: Mental Health for College Students
Written by Oakley Weddle
Ellie McLeod, 21, is a criminal justice student at The University of Memphis with a lot on her plate. McLeod often doesn't get the typical luxuries of self-care when dealing with two jobs, school, and active personal life.
McLeod is currently getting her major in criminal justice with minors in legal thought and philosophy. She is a second-semester Junior.
A full-time student taking six classes on top of her other responsibilities, people call it crazy; she calls it drive.
McLeod stated that her ambition is only matched by her love of The University of Memphis library. Spending copious amounts of time accomplishing tasks and reading, the iconic building has become a staple for McLeod's studying hours. She commented that Barnes and Noble is a favorite, as well.
When deciding on colleges, McLeod decided to follow the money.
"I didn't want any debt or student loans," McLeod said. "A degree is a degree."
McLeod stated that The University has a lot to offer students. In addition to her love of the library, she also mentioned the incredible professors and the college's sheer number of online classes. She believes it provides an accessible learning experience during a pandemic and beyond.
While her love of The University runs deep, some of her experiences haven't been up to par.
"I don't like the UC [University Center], and it's hard to make new friends during a pandemic."
She also states that her major is heavily male dominant. She has never had a female in-person professor.
With a hectic schedule, McLeod has difficulty finding time for herself and an even harder time preventing burnout.
When she does get free time, McLeod said that getting her nails done, participating in wine nights with her friends, and feeding her ongoing shopping addiction is the way to her heart.
"College is tough. I think a lot of folks forget that," McLeod said. "Especially Professors. One of the hardest things about being a student is time management".
McLeod stated that when professors assign an abundance of homework for their students, it's hard to find the right balance with six other classes to complete and pursue an excellent grade in each of them.
McLeod said she isn't worried about burnout. She stated that in times of stress, she turns to her family - specifically - her mom. McLeod values family deeply.
"When one of us is going through a funk, we do the little things for each other. Wash sheets, do laundry, cook, clean." McLeod said. "Those are the tasks that push us over the edge when we're under fire."
When she graduates, McLeod plans on pursuing a master's degree in Criminology or Urban Studies. She hopes to have her Ph.D. one day.
Beyond potential burnout and a lack of self-care, McLeod is pleased with her progress.
"For right now, I'm proud of what I've accomplished at a young age. However, there is always room to grow." McLeod said. "But you know, my perspective might change tomorrow. I may not have my life together Tuesday. I may be killing it Thursday. This is the way, especially at a young age."
With an optimistic spirit and an often wild-abandon, McLeod is armed and ready to tackle any challenge and obstacle that may come her way. Nonetheless, she gets by with a little help from her friends and family.